Second half offensive explosion helps Flashes snap two-game losing skid


Kent State senior guard Deon Edwin looks to pass over Miami Redhawks red-shirt guard Jake Bischoff and junior forward Rod Mills Jr. at the M.A.C. Center on Feb. 14, 2017.

Nick Buzzelli

When he was informed that Bowling Green State University lost to Western Michigan University earlier in the evening, positioning Kent State in fourth place in the Mid-American Conference East Division standings, Rob Senderoff didn’t think much of the news.

The Kent State coach said he isn’t concerned with the outcomes of other games in the league as much as he cares how his team prepares for and performs in each of its five remaining contests.

And during Tuesday’s game against Miami University (OH), Senderoff was just worried about ending the Flashes’ losing streak that began last week with a disappointing overtime setback to the Falcons.

Despite a sloppy first half in which Kent State committed seven turnovers and shot 31.3 percent from the field, senior forward Jimmy Hall and sophomore guard Jaylin Walker combined for 34 points in the final 20 minutes and helped the Flashes (14-12, 6-7 MAC) rally from an early deficit to knock off Miami (10-16, 3-10 MAC), 76-74, for their first home win since Jan. 21.

“I don’t think these guys or anybody is really thinking about (what other teams do). We’re just trying to win the next game,” Senderoff said after the win. “At the end of the year we’ll see where we’re at in the standings and go from there. If we keep winning, we’ll be fine. If we don’t, then we won’t be, regardless of what other teams do.”

Miami’s Michael Weathers led all scorers with 22 points on a 6-12 shooting performance while Hall and Walker tallied 21 and 20, respectively.

The Redhawks made five of their first six shots from the floor and led by as many as nine points at the midway point, but Kent State chipped away at the lead and got within one on a three pointer by Walker at the 5:13 mark.

Miami, however, converted its final two shots of the first half – including a buzzer beater from Rod Mills – to take a 31-26 lead heading into the locker room.

Early in the second half, though, Kent State went from trailing by five points to leading by five due to four consecutive three’s, without a miss by Walker.

“Once I had made one (three pointer) I knew I was kind of on. And then once I made my second one, I was like, ‘Okay, let’s just keep it rolling,’” said Walker, who was 5-10 from beyond the arc. “Lucky my teammates trust me to take some shots.”

Though Miami was able to regain the lead, 50-48, with 10:26 left on a Weathers layup, the Flashes continued to knock down shots late in the game, something Hall credited to having a short memory in terms of makes and misses.

“Basketball is a game of two halves. Can’t get too high or get too low. If you’re ever having a bad game or a bad couple of plays, just try to forget about it, just get it back on (defense) and let the offense work itself out,” he said. “ … We knew that we weren’t supposed to be in the situation that we were in so we just came together as a team and just picked it up.”

Kent State takes on Akron on Friday in the first game of the Wagon Wheel Rivalry before traveling to Buffalo to take on the Bulls – who are currently a game ahead of the Flashes in the division – next Tuesday night. 

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