Balanced scoring, strong rebounding lead Flashes over Ball State

Sophomore forward Danny Pippen drives past Ball State sophomore forward Kyle Mallers. Pippen scored 11 points and pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds en route to an 88-80 overtime win. 

Cameron Hoover

No matter who Ball State puts on the floor, the Cardinals just can’t seem to beat coach Rob Senderoff’s Flashes.

Kent State (10-10, 4-3 Mid-American Conference) scored 17 points to Ball State’s nine in the five-minute overtime period to seal the 88-80 win. A vicious slam from junior guard Jaylin Walker with six seconds left put an emphatic exclamation point on the Flashes’ 15th straight win over the Cardinals (12-8, 3-4 MAC). Senderoff is now 8-0 against Ball State during his tenure.

“We’ve been fortunate in some of those games,” Senderoff said. “Tonight, we made enough plays. Our guys really competed down the stretch. … We had a lot of guys playing really hard and playing to win. It was great to see.”

Senderoff pointed out sophomore forward Danny Pippen as a player who stood out to him. Pippen finished the game with 11 points and 16 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. His 16 boards were the most in a game for a Kent State player this season.

“I just based it off of the scouting report,” Pippen said. “I give praise to my coaches because they got us ready for the players we were going against, told us everything about them. I knew their tendencies, so I just kind of went with the flow and took what they were giving to me.”

Kent State won the rebounding battle, 42-37.

Senderoff said the scoring and rebounding wasn’t exactly what caught his eye about Pippen’s performance.

“To me, the biggest thing he was doing was he was flying all over the place today,” Senderoff said. “If you had told me his shooting percentage (27.3 percent) was what it was, I would’ve been shocked because you don’t notice that when he’s getting all these rebounds and blocking shots and diving on the floor for loose balls.”

Kevin Zabo led the Flashes with a game-high 21 points, his fourth straight game with over 20. After finishing the nonconference schedule averaging 9.5 points per game, the senior guard has averaged 19 points per game through his first seven MAC games.  

“I give the credit … to my teammates,” Zabo said of the hot streak. “When I have teammates that have so much confidence in me, it’s so much easier for me to make plays.”

Six Flashes scored in double-digits; the only other time this has happened this season was the season opener, a 111-78 win over Youngstown State in Akron.

“That’s the mark of a good team: when multiple guys can step up and make plays,” Senderoff said. “ … We had a lot of guys play well. The more guys that play well, the better our team is going to be.”

Walker scored 17 points, while junior center Adonis De La Rosa added 15 points and eight rebounds. Freshman forward BJ Duling and junior point guard Jalen Avery added 10 points apiece.

Junior guard Tayler Persons led the Cardinals with 19 points, while senior guard/forward Sean Sellers added 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting and nine rebounds.

Kent State plays again against Central Michigan (13-7, 2-5 MAC) at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at McGuirk Arena. The Flashes are still looking for their first conference road win and their first road win in general since Nov. 29 at Norfolk State.

Despite the poor form away from the M.A.C. Center, Pippen was optimistic.

“I feel like we can play with anybody,” he said. “When we lose, we lose because of ourselves. Nobody beats us; we beat ourselves. When we’re all clicking, this is what happens. We stick out hard games, and we win.”

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