Williams’ late steal helps push Flashes past Wright State

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Senior guard Jalen Avery coordinates the offense during Kent State’s 83-79 victory over Cleveland State on Nov. 10, 2018, at the Wolstein Center. Avery led the Flashes with 23 points. 

Ian Kreider

Junior guard Antonio Williams darted down the sideline, chasing a loose ball that he had seconds earlier knocked away from Wright State guard Cole Gentry.

Williams corralled the loose ball en route to a fast break layup that gave Kent State a 73-72 lead with close to three minutes left in the second half .

This was the Flashes first lead since the 10:40 mark.

“(Antonio’s) steal changed the game for us,” coach Rob Senderoff said.

However, Senderoff credited the Flashes’ (8-1) defensive effort down the stretch to senior guard Jalen Avery.

“Jalen’s experience level at guarding point guards for as long as he has, and being able to direct Gentry the way he wanted him to go I thought that really helped us,” Senderoff said.

Gentry scored two points when guarded by Avery, but finished with 17 points on 5-for-9 shooting, including 3-for-5 from deep when guarded by any other Flash. 

Avery was able to get out of his recent shooting slump, going 6-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-5 from behind the arc. Avery finished with 15 points after shooting a combined 2-for-18 over his last two games.

Senior guard Jaylin Walker poured in a game-high 26 points off the bench. He continued his hot shooting, finishing 6-for-11 from the field to go along with 10 free throws.

Kent State held the lead for a decent portion of the first half, but a momentum shift at the end of the first half was nearly disastrous for the Flashes. Kent State was up 39-32 when Gentry drove on Williams in the waning seconds of the half. Gentry missed his shot at the buzzer, with the horn sounding and the band beginning their music routine. However, the officals called the players back on the floor, calling Williams for a shooting foul.

Senderoff was upset by the call, but was able to joke about the situation after the game.

“I’ve stopped losing it as often as I once did,” Senderoff said. “I guess I’m getting older. (The officials) are working really hard there. I recognize they have a difficult job, and sometimes we’ll disagree.”

The Flashes were able to pull out the win, despite junior forward Phil Whittington and senior forward Akiean Frederick being in foul trouble for the majority of the game.

“I thought Phil did a great job, (Frederick) did a great job, BJ (Duling) did a really good job on offense he went right at them,” Senderoff said. “BJ just defensively we need him to help us a little bit more, but he went right at (Wright State’s) Loudon Love which got him his fourth foul.”

Kent State will look to make it seven wins in a row as they take on Louisville (6-3) Saturday at 4 p.m. inside the KFC Yum! Center.

Ian Kreider is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]