Flashes’ late offensive surge falls short against Wright 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

With his team down late in Sunday’s game against Wright State University, Kent State guard Desmond Ridenour faked a shot at the top of the key to shake his defender, drove into the lane and hit a pull-up jumper with less than three minutes remaining to trim the Raider lead to five.  

Up until that point, the crowd of 1,827 scattered throughout the M.A.C. Center hadn’t had much to cheer about:

Kent State shot a dismal 1-11 from the floor to begin the second half and trailed by as many as 17 to Wright State with 12 minutes remaining.

But it seemed as if that play was going to spark the Flashes’ late comeback. Sophomore Jaylin Walker proceeded to convert a three-point play to get his team within two, which prompted head coach Rob Senderoff to call a timeout and draw up a play with 36 seconds left.

The plan was to feed the ball to redshirt senior Jimmy Hall — who was posted up in the paint — for a turnaround hook shot.

However, Hall’s shot was off the mark. Walker’s ensuing jumper rimmed out and Kent State’s (7-4) comeback fell short to the Raiders (8-4), 68-63.

“At the end of the day, we got the ball to the right guy, the right spot. (Hall) missed a little right-handed hook … he normally makes,” Senderoff said. “Tonight, he wasn’t very good tonight and tonight he missed it. This was probably his worst individual game certainly all year and probably since the last game of last season. He missed it and then we had to foul. And that’s that.”

Walker led Kent State with 17-points, but shot just 1-10 from beyond the arc. Hall chipped in a double-double (11-points and 11 rebounds) in 36 minutes of play.

Wright State jumped out to an early six-point advantage two minutes into the game, courtesy of back-to-back three pointers by junior Mark Alstork — who led all scorers with 25-points.

The Flashes then took a one-point lead at the 5:50 mark, thanks to a Hall jump shot. But Alstork answered with a bucket of his own, and the Raiders were up four at halftime.

“They started off and they came and punched us in the mouth. Our intentions were to keep our home court, take advantage of our home court and come out strong,” said Ridenour, who scored a season-high 15 points.”I think — leading up to this whole week — we didn’t have a good week of focus, practicing in the annex gym. But that’s no excuse for us to come out how we did.”

Kent State began to slowly chip away at the Raiders’ lead during the final eight minutes of play and used a 22-7 run to close the gap to two, which set up the missed opportunity off of the timeout.

Senderoff attributed his team’s lack of offensive production to its low assist total. Coming into the game, the Flashes were averaging 14.7 assists per game, but were held to just six against Wright State.

“I know what we need to do to win and tonight we didn’t do it. (We) got outrebounded, had our season-low for assists, shot the worst percentage from the field because of our season-low for assists, shot the worst percentage from three because of our season-low for assists,” said Senderoff, who’s in his seventh season as head coach. “We just didn’t play well, that’s the bottom line … This, to me, was an important game and we didn’t do what we needed to do.”

The Flashes begin a two-game road trip Wednesday night against Oregon State University and the University of Texas before opening Mid-American Conference play at home on Jan. 3.

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