Kent State men’s basketball recovered from a slow start to defeat Eastern Michigan University on Saturday afternoon 64-51 at the M.A.C. Center.
The game celebrated the program’s second annual autism awareness game, and the Flashes wore their special “1 in 59” uniforms (one in 59 people has autism spectrum disorder).
Coach Rob Senderoff’s squad improved to 14-5 on the season with only four games left in the regular season.
Kent State began the game cold from outside, going 8-22 from the field in the first half. Luckily for the Flashes, they were able to contain the Eagles on the defensive end, keeping the game tied at 23 going into the second half.
“In the second 20 minutes I think our defensive pressure really picked up,” Senderoff said. “We started getting some stops and out in transition.”
Senior forward Danny Pippen carried the Flashes offensively, scoring 25 points on 10-21 shooting. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and came one assist shy of a triple double.
“Our guys did a really good job of getting it to him,” Senderoff said. “I had heard a lot of questions about how he was playing, and I’m sure he heard them too.”
Kent again took advantage of their size and won the points in the paint battle 26-22. Senior forward Justyn Hamilton grabbed nine rebounds, while senior forward Tervell Beck added 12 points inside.
For the Eagles, guard Yeikson Montero led the way with 15 points and Ty Groce followed with 13.
“For us to win we’re going to have to defend at a high level,” Senderoff said. “We’ve done that, and we’ve just got to continue with that.”
The Flashes picked it up from the perimeter in the second half, putting up 41 total points and shooting nearly 40 percent from three-point range.
Sophomore guard Giovanni Santiago continued to facilitate on offense, chipping in 12 points, all from three-point territory, to go along with 7 assists.
Kent State will next set their sights on Muncie, Indiana, where the Flashes will take on Ball State University on Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Mason Lawlor is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]