Missed opportunities plague Kent State in loss to South Dakota

Kent+State+sophomore+guard+Jalen+Avery+%28%230%29+goes+for+the+basket+in+Kent+State%E2%80%99s+game+against+South+Dakota+University+in+the+first+game+of+the+Gulf+Coast+Showcase+in+Estero%2C+Florida%2C+on+Monday%2C+November+21%2C+2016.+The+Flashes+lost+to+South+Dakota%2C+80-77.

Kent State sophomore guard Jalen Avery (#0) goes for the basket in Kent State’s game against South Dakota University in the first game of the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida, on Monday, November 21, 2016. The Flashes lost to South Dakota, 80-77.

Nick Buzzelli

During Kent State men’s basketball’s media day three weeks ago, head coach Rob Senderoff stressed the importance of playing neutral site games early in the season to prepare for the Mid-American Conference Tournament since the team’s first game will be at a neutral site — Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland — if it secures first round bye.

In the first neutral site game of the 2016 season — the opener against Cleveland State at the Beeghly Center in Youngstown, — senior Deon Edwin overcame a first-half slump to seal the overtime win for the Flashes.

Edwin also came alive Monday in the team’s second neutral site contest of the season, scoring 10 points in the final 20 minutes of play. However, the offensive spark wasn’t enough to propel Kent State past undefeated University of South Dakota.

Despite a pair of 19-point performances by Edwin and sophomore Jaylin Walker, Kent State’s (3-1) second half comeback fell short, 80-77 in its first game of the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida.

After being tied at 10 during the first media timeout, the Flashes used an old-fashioned three-point play by Walker to take a nine-point advantage midway through the first.

South Dakota began chipping away at the lead and knotted the score at 29 two minutes later. And the Coyotes used a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to two heading into the locker room.

South Dakota then took its first lead since the 17:30 mark of the first half 47 seconds into the second, courtesy of a Carlton Hurst three-pointer. The Coyotes led by as many as 11, eight minutes into the second after Hurst converted both attempts from the charity stripe.

Trailing by one with less than 40 seconds remaining, South Dakota guard Trey Burch-Manning drove the lane for a layup, hoping to cushion South Dakota’s lead.

Even though Burch-Manning’s shot hit the front of the rim, South Dakota’s Tyler Flack grabbed the rebound and extended the possession for the Coyotes.

Matt Mooney’s ensuing three-pointer was off the mark, but Flack once again secured the offensive board and converted the layup, extending South Dakota’s lead to three with seven seconds remaining.

The Flashes had a last-second opportunity to tie the game, but Walker’s three was off the mark.

Hall, who was not Kent State’s leading scorer for the first time this season, finished with 14 points and nine rebounds on a 6-17 shooting performance from the floor.

The Flashes will continue play in the Gulf Coast Showcase Tuesday against Atlantic-10 opponent George Mason University. Tip-off is slated for 1:30 p.m.

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