Flashes look to ride momentum into homestretch of regular season

Kent State senior forward Jimmy Hall makes a move to the rim against Akron senior center Isaiah Johnson at the James A. Rhodes Arena on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. Kent State beat Akron, 70-67.

Nick Buzzelli

Jimmy Hall said Kent State “gave up” a lot of games in Mid-American Conference play that it should’ve won. First, there were the home overtime losses to Northern Illinois University, Central Michigan University and Bowling Green State University.

Then there was the blowout against the University of Toledo on Feb. 11, a team the Flashes beat by 24 the first time they played this season.

After snapping the University of Akron’s 30-game winning streak at the James A. Rhodes Arena Friday night, Hall realized that the road win over the league’s best team gave him and his teammates a sense of confidence moving forward in a season marked by inconsistencies.

“I feel like we all believe that we got it in us. We just got to get hot at the right time right now,” Hall said. “We gave up a lot of games that we shouldn’t have so just right now is about getting hot at the right time and taking off.”

With four games left, the Flashes currently sit in fourth place in the MAC’s East Division, two games out of a three-way tie for second.

But because Kent State faces University at Buffalo, Ohio University and Akron one more time – the three teams ahead of it in the standings — it has an opportunity to gain ground in the head-to-head matchups. The Flashes are currently 1-2 this season against those three teams, with the two losses being by a combined 31 points.

However, if there’s one statistic that has been indicative of Kent State’s unpredictability during the 2016-17 campaign, it’s the number of unforced errors committed from game-to-game. For example, in their Jan. 17 game versus Buffalo, an 82-69 loss, the Flashes committed 19 total turnovers.

Against Toledo four days later, Kent State had just eight while recording 14 assists.

In its seven conference wins thus far, the Flashes averaged 12.4 turnovers per game, a hair below its season mark of 14.1. But in their seven league losses, that number hovers around 17.1.

For head coach Rob Senderoff, the extra possessions – or lack thereof – can be the difference between a win and a loss.

“If we can (take care of the basketball), we got a chance. If we don’t do that, we shoot ourselves in the foot,” Senderoff said following the Akron game. “Take care of the basketball, stay within yourself, make simple plays and we have a chance to win.”

Despite the fact that league play has been erratic – a four-game losing skid, two straight wins on multiple occasions and back-to-back losses – Hall is reassured in his team heading into the homestretch of the regular season.

“In our locker room, in our minds, we’re the best team in the MAC. We try to go out there and play as hard as we can to win every game,” he said. “Sometimes, we get aside from ourselves and our principles. So whether it’s a tight game or we blow someone out, we take our wins as we can right now.”

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