Peterson’s hustle play credited as turning point in Kent State’s win over Ohio


Kent State freshman guard Mitch Peterson drives the ball against Ohio University senior forward Kenny Kaminski at the M.A.C. Center on Feb. 25, 2017. Kent State won 70-67.

Nick Buzzelli

Rob Senderoff wasn’t impressed with Mitch Peterson’s statistics against Ohio University following Saturday’s game.

Glancing over the final box score during his postgame press conference, the Kent State head coach was quick to point out that his freshman guard finished a dismal 0-5 from the field, missed all three of his three pointer attempts and only recorded one rebound in 23 minutes of play.

But Senderoff credited Peterson’s late play off of a missed jump shot as altering the game’s momentum in favor of Kent State.

With the score knotted at 63 with 54 seconds remaining, Peterson tracked down a loose ball off a Deon Edwin missed jumper and tipped it to an open Jimmy Hall in the paint, who converted a dunk and the ensuing free throw to give Kent State (17-12, 9-7 Mid-American Conference) its first lead since the 3:46 mark of the first half and, ultimately, a 70-67 win over Ohio (18-9, 10-6) at the M.A.C Center.  

“Mitch was awful and then he kept the ball alive that Jimmy offensive rebounded for our first lead (of the second half). You look at his stat line and that’s about as bad as you can get … But the guy who (kept) it alive was Mitch,” Senderoff said after the win, his team’s fourth in a row. “Sometimes his value goes beyond the box score.”

Seniors Edwin and Hall led all scorers with 20 points each, while sophomore guards Jalen Avery and Jaylin Walker each chipped in 12. Ohio was paced by Mike Laster, who recorded 16 on a 7-8 shooting performance.

While the Flashes began the game on an 11-2 run during the first six minutes, holding the Bobcats to 1-8 from the floor during that span, Ohio countered by scoring 18 of the next 27 points to take the lead.

Late in the second half, however, the Flashes used a 12-4 run to tie it at 63, setting up Peterson’s momentum-turning hustle play.

Despite the fact that Ohio used two easy layups — one by Jaaron Simmons and one by Laster — to cut the deficit to one on two separate occasions in the final 30 seconds, Avery and Walker went a combined 6-6 from the line during that stretch to secure the win.

“I didn’t realize we had that big run. I was just playing and just doing whatever it takes to win,” said Edwin, who also notched a career-high 18 rebounds. “That run is what we needed … to just come together as a team to get the win.”

For Avery, the biggest difference between the first time Kent State played Ohio University — an 85-67 loss in early January — and the most recent outing was the amount of effort he and his teammates exerted.

Now, he said, they realize that every game is important in the final week of the regular season, especially considering the Flashes are in a tightly contested MAC East Division race with Ohio and the University at Buffalo.

“I think in the beginning of the season, you know that you have so many games left. It may be January or February, so you know you still have March. But now, we’re in late-February, March is coming up and we know we only have (two) games left,” Avery said. “It’s like we have to leave it all on the court. This is all there is.”

Nick Buzzelli is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected]