First half surge propels Ohio past Kent State


Senior forward Jimmy Hall Jr. drives to the rim against the Wright State University defender on Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016 at the M.A.C. Center. 

Nick Buzzelli

The first seven minutes of the Kent State basketball team’s Mid-American Conference contest against Ohio University Friday night was a back-and-forth affair.

When sophomore Jaylin Walker drained a three pointer to give the Flashes an early 7-3 advantage, Ohio senior Antonio Campbell answered with a three of his own on the ensuing possession.

When Kent State redshirt senior Jimmy Hall converted a contested layup, so did sophomore Jordan Dardis on the other end. And when Walker drained another shot from beyond the arc following a Kent State timeout, Ohio’s Kenny Kaminski hit a three 15 seconds later.

During that stretch, which featured a combined 37 points, there were four lead changes and just as many ties. But then — suddenly — the prolific Kent State offense, which put up 100 its last time out, stalled.

Over the next 6:56, the Flashes (9-6, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) committed four turnovers and went 0-9 from the floor, which enabled the Bobcats (10-3, 2-2 MAC) to use an 18-1 run to jump out to an early lead and eventually cruise to an 85-67 win at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.

“There is not much to say from my end,” head coach Rob Senderoff told Kent State Athletics. “We didn’t play very well and they played well. It’s a good win for them and a bad loss for us. We are going to try and get better, and move on.”

Kaminski, a Michigan State transfer, led all scorers with 23 points in 27 minutes of play. For Kent State, senior Deon Edwin, Walker and Hall tallied 16, 12 and 11, respectively. Hall, who also added 10 rebounds, recorded his eighth double-double this season.

Despite trailing for the remainder of the game, Kent State cut the deficit to 10 with five minutes left in the first half, but was unable to get any closer. Ohio continued its offensive surge during the final 20 minutes of play and led by as many as 29 en route to the win, its third in a row.  

Three days after going a perfect 31-31 from the free throw line in a 100-90 win over Ball State, the Flashes shot a dismal 44.4 percent (8-18) from the line and 36.6 percent from the field.

However, the lone bright spot for Kent State — the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the nation, averaging 15.2 per game — was the way it controlled the glass, outrebounding Ohio by 12 and coming down with 22 offensive boards compared to the Bobcats’ six.

Kent State returns home Tuesday to host Northern Illinois University, which currently sits in fifth place in the MAC’s West Division, before facing Western Michigan University on the road Jan. 14. 

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