Late run, lack of ball movement dooms short-handed Flashes

Antonio Williams takes a shot in the first half of the Flashes matchup against Buffalo on Jan. 25. The Flashes lost, 88-79.

Ian Kreider

Kent State (15-5, 4-3 Mid-American Conference) utilized a seven-man rotation Friday because a sprained ankle kept senior guard Mitch Peterson out of the lineup.

“(Mitch’s injury) is not the reason we lost,” coach Rob Senderoff said after. “That plays a factor. You need to have everybody step in and play well.”

Senior guard Jaylin Walker played 40 minutes and was limited to six points on 1-for-7 shooting from the floor in the second half, which played a factor in the 88-79 loss. Buffalo (18-2, 6-1 MAC) stifled Walker with a variety of defensive looks. CJ Massinburg, Davonta Jordan and Dontay Caruthers each guarded him in the second half.

“I didn’t think they were going to give me different looks defensively,” Walker said. “I thought CJ would be guarding me for the most part.”

Nick Perkins helped jump start Buffalo’s offense that came out shooting 2-for-9 in the first half. He had seven of the Bulls’ first 14 points to help cut the early Kent State lead. He spread the defense out to the three-point line, while also dominating inside, which opened up opportunities for Massinburg and Caruthers in the second half.

“I didn’t think (Perkins) was going to be on fire like that from three,” junior guard Philip Whittington said. “We knew he was one of the big three for his team so we knew he was going to hit shots, but we didn’t do a good job of containing Caruthers and other guys.”

The Bulls outscored Kent State 29-6 in fast break points. Many opportunities came off poor shot selection or turnovers. Three straight turnovers by Walker in the final three minutes, allowed Buffalo to grab a 84-75 lead with two minutes remaining.

“They’re really tough in transition,” Walker said. “They’re pretty easy to guard in the half court.”

The Flashes also finished with eight assists, which is tied for a season-low. Senior guard Jaylen Avery finished with zero assists for the second time this season.

“They make you play some one-on-one,” Senderoff said. “Our team isn’t good when we do that. We have to get out in transition and to get out in transition you need stops and we didn’t get enough of them in the second half.”

Junior forward Philip Whittington finished with a career-high 18 points, while securing a game-high 13 rebounds. It was the first time this season that he secured a double-double and they lost.

“We were right there,” Senderoff said. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you we didn’t play well, but we need to do better (moving the ball).”

Kent State will take on Western Michigan (6-13, 0-6 MAC) Tuesday at 7 p.m. inside Read Fieldhouse. The Broncos have lost each conference game by an average of 12 points.

Ian Kreider is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]