Slow second half dooms Flashes at Albany in final nonconference game


Kent State junior center Adonis De La Rosa drives to the hoop during the first half against Xavier Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.

Cameron Hoover

Coach Rob Senderoff’s Kent State men’s basketball team (6-7) was unable to carry over the momentum from its win over the Pac-12’s Oregon State last week, dropping its final nonconference game of 2017 at Albany (12-3), 78-68.

The game was tied at 29 at halftime after nine points and six rebounds from Adonis De La Rosa on 4-for-5 shooting. De La Rosa finished with 18 points, his most since scoring 19 at Norfolk State on Nov. 29.

After a dunk from De La Rosa kicked off the second half, the Great Danes pulled away, outscoring the Flashes 49-39 in the period. This was thanks in part to the disparity in free throw shooting. In the second half alone, Albany shot 19-for-24 from the free-throw line; Kent State shot 9-for-13 for the whole game.

“We’re disappointed that we lost,” Senderoff said. “Albany is a very good team, and they played well, certainly in the second half. They’re a 40-minute team, and to beat them, you’re going to have to play hard and play well for 40 minutes. Tonight, we played hard, but we didn’t play great.”

Jaylin Walker led the Flashes in scoring for the eighth time this season with 25 points, but continued his run of poor shooting; the junior guard made just eight of his 27 shots, including 2-for-10 from three-point range.

In his past six games, Walker is shooting 31 percent from the field and 24.5 percent from three-point range.

“(Albany) is a good defensive team, and they stepped up to the challenge (of guarding Walker),” Senderoff said. “There were a couple that he missed where there are days he makes them. … Over the course of 40 minutes, (Albany forward) Devonte Campbell did a really good job defensively, as did their whole team.”

Senior guards Kevin Zabo and Desmond Ridenour each chipped in with 10 points. Sophomore forward Danny Pippen added four points and six rebounds.

Travis Charles, a graduate student forward, led the Great Danes with 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Junior guard David Nichols added 15 points, and Joe Cremo, Albany’s leading scorer heading into the game, scored 14.

The loss put a damper on Senderoff’s return to Albany, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1995 and worked as a graduate assistant after that.

“Outside of the result of the game, I personally enjoyed being back here,” Senderoff said. “I have a lot of fond memories of this place. … It’s an unbelievable atmosphere. … They’ve done an incredible job as an administration keeping this program as good as it is. I loved being back here, except for the 40 minutes (of the game).”

Kent State sophomore guard Mitch Peterson did not play due to an illness.

The Flashes enter conference play as the only MAC team with a losing record.

The Flashes return to the court at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Northern Illinois.

Cameron Hoover is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].