Second-half struggles down Flashes in loss at Bowling Green

Coach Rob Senderoff gives instructions during a timeout during Kent State’s 70-62 loss at Bowling Green Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018. 

Cameron Hoover

 Even after Kent State put the Mid-American Conference on notice with a statement win over then-undefeated Buffalo Tuesday at the M.A.C. Center, the Flashes still couldn’t carry that momentum on the road, a story coach Rob Senderoff has been all too familiar with this season.

Kent State (12-11, 6-4 MAC) looked like it was cruising its way to an easy win, as the Flashes jumped out to a 20-5 lead over Bowling Green (14-9, 5-5 MAC) after a Falcons timeout with 10:33 left in the first half. At that point, Bowling Green had missed 14 of its first 16 shots.

The Falcons slowly chipped away at the lead, and a stepback jumper with a foot on the three-point line from Justin Turner cut the Flashes’ lead to seven points at halftime.

The Flashes came out of the break sluggish, and it only took seven minutes and 35 seconds for the game to be tied on a dunk from Antwon Lillard. The game went back and forth until Bowling Green’s Matt Fox converted an and-one with 3:56 left to put the Falcons up, 61-56.

The foul went against Kent State’s Danny Pippen, his fifth. He finished with one point before his disqualification. The Flashes never led again, and poor execution and Bowling Green’s free-throw shooting down the stretch ended the game with a Falcons victory, 70-62.

Bowling Green outscored the Flashes, 46-31, in the second half. The loss gives Kent State a 2-7 record in true away games this season, including 1-4 in the MAC.

“It’s a 40-minute game, and the same way we played really well Tuesday (against Buffalo) for 40 minutes, it was like a complete reversal today,” Senderoff said. “We got out to a great start, but didn’t sustain the effort or consistency that you need.”

Senderoff had no explanation for the shift in the game.

“I’m going to have to look at it and watch the film on that,” Senderoff said. “You’ve got to be all about winning at all times. When you’re not and you’re worrying about other things, it’s tough to win.”

Kent State played its offense mostly through juniors Jaylin Walker and Adonis De La Rosa, as the pair each scored 20 points and pulled down six rebounds.

De La Rosa shot 7-for-11 from the field and 6-8 from the free-throw line, while Walker finished 7-for-17, including 5-for-13 from three-point range.

Junior point guard Jalen Avery added 11 points and four assists.

Freshman guard Justin Turner led the Falcons with 20 points on 8-for-18 shooting, including three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Turner has now scored at least 20 points in seven games this season.

Junior forward Demajeo Wiggins added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Falcons, one off his 10th double-double of the season. Sophomore guard Rodrick Caldwell made two three-pointers en route to a 12-point performance, and Lillard finished with 11.

Kent State returns to the court to host Eastern Michigan (13-10, 4-6 MAC) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the M.A.C. Center.

“We’ve just got to keep working,” Senderoff said. “That’s it — just have to keep working and try to get better.”

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