Flashes rebound from rocky road trip, top Grambling State to begin home stand

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Freshman guard Mitch Peterson of the Kent State men’s basketball team shoots a layup after collecting the offensive rebound against Grambling State University on Friday, Dec. 2, 2016 at the M.A.C. Center. Kent State won, 86-57.

Nick Buzzelli

Freshman Mitch Peterson wasn’t feeling well during the Kent State men’s basketball team’s four-game, nine-day road trip over Thanksgiving break that featured contests at opposite ends of the east coast.

In the Flashes’ opening game of the Florida Gulf Coast Showcase against South Dakota University, Peterson put up four points in 13 minutes on the floor.

But as the road trip progressed, his minutes declined until he only appeared in a total of six minutes over the duration of Kent State’s last three games, including a three-point loss to Northeastern University.

However, prior to Kent State’s first game back at the M.A.C. Center Friday night, Peterson – who attributed his sickness to the plane rides to Florida and Boston – told head coach Rob Senderoff that he was “feeling 100 percent.” And against Grambling State University, it showed.

Four Flashes scored in double figures, including Peterson and sophomore Jaylin Walker, who each had 12 points, and senior forward Jimmy Hall recorded his third double-double of the season – 14 points and 13 boards – en route to Kent State’s (5-3) 86-57 blowout win over the Tigers (3-6) Friday night.

“With our team, there’s going to be a lot of different guys that, on different nights, play well. It’s not like there’s a number two option. On one night, it may be Jaylin. On one night it may be (senior) Deon (Edwin). On one night it may be (sophomore) Adonis (De La Rosa),” Senderoff said. “We just need consistent play out of multiple guys. Tonight we got pretty consistent play over the course of the (game) from a number of players.”

After both teams matched one another shot-for-shot during the first eight minutes of play, a span that featured four ties and one lead change, junior Kevin Zabo knocked down a three-pointer to put the Flashes ahead by three.

Grambling State’s Avery Ugba then cut the deficit to one at the 10:32 mark of the first half, but Walker proceeded to tally the game’s next six points — a three-pointer, 15-foot jump shot and free throw — to cushion Kent State’s lead for good.

Peterson said rebounding, especially on the offensive glass, was a major portion of his team’s scouting report in preparation for Grambling State. The Flashes’ opponent came into the game averaging 13.6 offensive and 34.9 total boards per contest.

However, Kent State managed to outrebound its opponent by 20, shot 52.3 percent from the floor and tallied 32 bench points in the win — the team’s second over a Southwestern Athletic Conference team this season.

The lone blemish on the Flashes’ stat sheet, however, was the fact that it had 16 turnovers, which enabled Grambling State to score nearly one-third of its points.

Despite the fact that Kent State had a rough road trip last week, dropping three out of its four games by a combined 10 points, Peterson believes that beginning a four-game home stand with a win — its longest of the season — can help from a confidence standpoint.

“It gave us a little bit of momentum and should get us ready for these next three home games,” he said. “It got us off to a good start.”

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