Flashes survive late Bowling Green run to win fifth in a row


Kent State senior guard Deon Edwin rushes up court against Ohio sophomore guard Jordan Dartis at the M.A.C. Center on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017.

Nick Buzzelli

Before he went on air to discuss Kent State’s road win over Bowling Green with Ty Linder on WHLO, Kent State assistant Coach Bobby Steinburg jokingly told the coaching staff that this team is made for television.

Because, just like a TV program which has to be filled with suspense to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, the Kent State men’s basketball team has a recent habit of taking its games down to the wire.

In their previous four wins, the Flashes trailed at the half, but built up a lead in the final frame before allowing the other team to play catchup. And Tuesday’s rematch with the Falcons was no different.

Sophomore Jaylin Walker, senior Jimmy Hall and senior Deon Edwin combined for 50 points, and the Flashes (18-12, 10-7) used an 8-0 run early in the second half to pull away from BG (13-17, 7-10 MAC), 74-67, at the Stroh Center to extend their winning streak to five games, the longest of the season.

“We like to keep it exciting, we like to keep the ratings high,” Steinburg told Linder in the postgame radio interview. “Any win is a good win. Any road win is a great win.”

Kent State was paced by Walker’s 18 points on a 4-11 mark from beyond the arc while Hall, who didn’t start the game, recorded 18 points and 15 rebounds. Edwin chipped in 15.

Four BG players scored in double figures, led by guard Ismail Ali’s 14 points on 5-8 shooting.

Tied at 44 at the 16:06 mark of the second half, the Flashes scored 10 of the game’s next 12 points to take their first lead since it was 16-14.

Hall picked up his fifth foul with 2:02 remaining, and BG managed to cut the deficit to one, 68-67, on a Matt Fox layup off of a turnover on the inbounds play.

However, Edwin and sophomore Jalen Avery went a combined 4-4 from the charity stripe during the game’s final 26 seconds, and freshman Mitch Peterson put an exclamation point on the win with a coast-to-coast dunk off of a defensive rebound as time expired.

“We’re finding ways to win these close games now and earlier in the year we were finding ways to lose,” Coach Rob Senderoff told ESPN3 after the win. “The way that we’ve competed over the past month and a half has been really good to see. We made a couple toughness plays when we needed to. There was a stretch there where we got stop, stop, stop and were able to score.”

Though part of Kent State’s recent success can be attributed to coaching, Steinburg said he believes it’s mostly the result of strong point guard play by Avery.

“Jalen Avery has really stepped it up recently and done a great job of controlling the offense and not turning the ball over and doing that in more minutes,” he said. “It (his minutes) have certainly increased and he’s still keeping those turnovers down.”

The Flashes conclude the regular season Friday by hosting Akron for the final game of the Wagon Wheel Challenge, which ESPN2 will broadcast. Tipoff is slated for 9 p.m.

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