Red-hot RedHawks scorch Flashes with lopsided first half


Kent State junior center Adonis De La Rosa receives a foul as he drives to the basket against Ohio Christian Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017.

Cameron Hoover

Miami (OH) came into Tuesday night’s contest with Kent State ranked as the worst team in the Mid-American Conference in terms of offensive scoring at just 72.5 points per game.

The RedHawks (9-7, 2-1 MAC) didn’t look like that same team during the first half against the Flashes, putting on a clinic on both sides of the ball that saw Miami (OH) take a 48-25 lead into the break.

Miami (OH) shot 52.8 percent from the field in the half, including 43.8 percent from three-point range. The 48 points were a season-high for the RedHawks in a half against a Division I opponent.

Sticking truer to its roots, Miami (OH), the second-best team in the conference in terms of scoring defense, held the Flashes to 30 percent shooting in the first half, including 25 percent from beyond the arc.

Junior guard Jalen Avery was the only Kent State player with at least three field goals made in the first half. Jaylin Walker, also a junior guard, went 2-for-8 from the field and 1-for-5 from three-point range in the half, coming off his season-high 26 points in last Saturday’s victory over Central Michigan.

Miami (OH) led by as many as 29 points in the first half.

“It’s tough to come back from the start that we had,” said Kent State coach Rob Senderoff. “That’s the worst start that I’ve ever seen us have. I’m obviously disappointed in that.”

The Flashes (7-9, 1-2 MAC) fought back; Miami (OH) was an inexperienced team with three freshmen starters whose last game was a loss to Western Michigan, where the RedHawks blew a 12-point lead in the second half.

The Flashes clawed their way back the rest of the game, outscoring the RedHawks, 44-32, in the second half and cutting the lead down to as little as eight points with 1:24 remaining.

Despite the effort, Kent State lost, 80-69. The Flashes are now 1-5 in true road games (games not played at neutral sites) and have lost both of their road contests in conference play.

“Obviously, if we’re going to try to win games in this league, we’ve got to play better for 40 minutes,” Senderoff said. “That’s really what it come back to. … It’s tough to win road games in this league.”

Senderoff said he was “proud of the fight” his team showed in the second half, but added “a loss is a loss.”

“The second half we played much more to our character, much more the way we’re supposed to play,” Senderoff said. “We’re disappointed, and I take responsibility for how we played in the first half, certainly. We’ll try to learn and get better moving forward.”

Walker, who entered the game as the Flashes’ leading scorer at 18.3 points per game, which was also third-best in the MAC, didn’t play in the second half for undisclosed reasons. He finished with five points and three rebounds.

Freshman guard Nike Sibande led the RedHawks with 17 points to go along with six rebounds. Junior guard Darrian Ringo, who entered the game first in the MAC and fourth in the country with 8.1 assists per game, finished with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including 2-for-2 from three-point range, and seven assists.

Junior center Adonis De La Rosa led the Flashes with 16 points and seven rebounds. Avery scored 12 points, and senior guard Kevin Zabo added 11 points, all in the second half.

The Flashes return home to host Ohio (8-7, 1-2 MAC) at 7 p.m. Friday at the M.A.C. Center.

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