Walker breaks all-time three-point record as Flashes secure second conference win

Kent State’s Antonio Williams reaches for the ball during the match against Ohio University on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.

Ian Kreider

Kent State men’s basketball senior guard Jaylin Walker knocked down his 248th career three-pointer with 4:59 left in the first half of their Tuesday night matchup against Ohio University to give Kent State a 29-20 lead.

Walker has had an up-and-down season thus far after being suspended the first five games of the season due to a violation of university policy. Since returning, Walker has averaged a conference-best 21.8 points per game, with the Flashes sitting at 6-1 in games in which he scores 20 points or more. That streak continued in the Flashes (13-4, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) 66-52 win, during which he scored a game-high 21 points.

That said, Walker has struggled since conference play began, averaging 17.3 points per game on 31.8 percent shooting from the field. Tuesday’s game was the first time he has eclipsed 50 percent from three-point range since conference play started, a mark he broke six times prior to the start of conference play.

“They were coming in with a lot of confidence after beating Ball State by 18 on the road,” coach Eric Haut said.

Ohio forwards Jason Carter, Doug Taylor and guard Teyvion Kirk combined for 43 points on 44 percent shooting in the 70-52 win over a Ball State team that has defeated the likes of Loyola Chicago (10-7, 3-1 Missouri Valley Conference) and Toledo (14-3, 2-2 MAC) on the road.

The trio combined to score 28 points on 10-for-35 shooting on Tuesday for the Bobcats (9-7, 1-3 MAC), including an abysmal 4-for-22 performance from Kirk who threw up wild floaters over outstretched arms in the lane. He was limited by junior guard Antonio Williams’ suffocating defense for the majority of the game.

The Flashes finished the first half with 37 points on 15-for-29 shooting. However, they shot just 8-for-24 over the final 20 minutes, but limited the Bobcats’ offense to 26 points on 27.8 percent shooting.

Haut admitted the frustration that comes with the Flashes inconsistency.

“We know what this group is capable of,” Haut said. “In the first half we moved the ball well and scored 37 points, but the second half we played better defense when the shots weren’t falling.”

Junior forward Philip Whittington recorded his fourth double-double of the season, scoring 10 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. He was in foul trouble for much of the second half, ultimately fouling out with 2:03 left.

“We decided to wait until under (four minutes left) to put him back in,” Haut said. “(Akiean Frederick) stepped up when we needed him, taking a charge and playing well down the stretch.”

Kent State slammed the door shut on a comeback with 2:33 left after Carter sent Williams layup off the backboard, but a foul was called despite limited contact. Taylor slammed the ball in frustration and it soared about 10 feet. He received a technical foul before the ball could reach the ground, and that set up an 8-4 run to close out the waning seconds in a game where neither team could find the bottom of the net.

The Flashes will look to string together another win when they take on Northern Illinois (10-6, 3-0 MAC) Saturday at 7 p.m. inside the M.A.C. Center. The Huskies have defeated their first three conference opponents by an average of 10 points per game.

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