Best of Kent: Best Men’s Team

Cameron Hoover

First PlaceBasketball

The Kent State men’s basketball team overcame one of its roughest starts in years to finish the season at a respectable 17-17 (9-9 Mid-American Conference) and was eliminated in the semifinals of the MAC Tournament.

The Flashes finished the nonconference portion of their schedule at 6-7, highlighted by a 79-78 win over the Pac-12’s Oregon State on Dec. 21, 2017. Kent State brought consistent excitement to the M.A.C. Center, as their conference schedules included eight games that were either decided by four points or less or went to overtime. The Flashes were 6-2 in those games.

Two clear highlights of the season were two buzzer-beaters. The first came from sophomore guard Mitch Peterson, who floated a loose ball toward the hoop with 0.2 seconds left to beat Western Michigan on Jan. 16. The second came from Kevin Zabo during the first round of the MAC Tournament against Northern Illinois, a left-handed layup as time expired to send the Flashes to Cleveland. They would go on to lose to eventual champs Buffalo.

Junior guard Jaylin Walker was named to the All-MAC Third Team after averaging 16.6 points per game. Point guard Jalen Avery led the nation with a 5.04 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Second placeBaseball

The Kent State baseball team is currently 22-10 and 9-3 in the MAC, good for first place. The Flashes have made national noise this year, as they have gone on the road to beat three Power Five teams this season already: No. 7 Arkansas on March 9, Notre Dame on March 27 and Pitt on April 10.

The team currently leads the league in batting average (.282), runs allowed per game (4.00) and fielding percentage (.976). Senior outfielders Mason Mamarella (.363) and Nick Kanavas (.351) are fourth and sixth in the MAC in hitting, respectively. First baseman Brad Hamilton leads the team with eight home runs.

A standout on the mound for the Flashes has been Joey Murray. The righty’s 1.11 ERA is best in the conference. He has struck out a whopping 81 batters in 56.2 innings pitched, giving up just 32 hits and 18 walks.

Third placeFootball

The Kent State football team survived another tumultuous season that ended with a change at the helm.

The Flashes finished the season 2-10, 1-7 in the MAC. The team’s sole wins came against FCS opponent Howard and Miami (OH). The team finished ranked No. 127 out of 128 teams in passing offense last season.

Coach Paul Haynes’ contract was not renewed, and Sean Lewis was hired as the new coach on Dec. 21, 2017. Ushering in what he refers to as the #FlashFAST era, Lewis’ spring game was highlighted by defensive intensity and a three-way quarterback battle.  

Cameron Hoover is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].