Hall plays huge as Flashes edge Malone

Forward Jimmy Hall reaches to grab the ball in a game against Malone University in the M.A.C. Center on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. The Flashes beat the Pioneers, 62-52.

Ray Strickland

The Kent State men’s basketball team barely escaped the Malone Pioneers by a final score of 62-52 for its second win of the season inside the M.A.C. Center.

Redshirt sophomore forward Jimmy Hall played big for the Flashes, pulling in a game-high 16 rebounds (seven offensive). Hall also led the team in scoring with 18 points, four blocks and three assists.

It was evident from tip-off that the Flashes would be in store for a slugfest. The game was close nearly the entire first half with both teams trading baskets early.

But that wouldn’t last long.

At the 12:33 mark in the first half, Malone’s Jason Miller converted on a layup, which shifted the momentum in the away team’s favor. From that moment forward, the Pioneers went on a 14-2 run to give them the 28-16 lead with 3:26 remaining in the first half.

The Flashes did not get off to a strong start, committing seven turnovers in the first half alone, and struggled from beyond the arc, missing two of their first 11 three-point field goal attempts.

When you don’t hit shots, it’s hard to keep confidence in your shot throughout the game, Kent State coach Rob Senderoff said about his group’s poor three-point shooting performance.

However, Senderoff also said he believes in his guys to hit open shots.

“You try to get better each game, tonight we did not get any better,” Senderoff said. “If we can learn from today’s game, it can be something we improve upon next game. 

Second-half surge

Kent State turned up its defensive intensity in the second half and relied on defense to claw its way back into the game.

The Flashes held the Pioneers to 22 points in the second half, outscoring them in the process by 18 points (40-22). The Flashes were able to force 16 turnovers in the game and seven in the second half.

“We’ll take the win obviously and we will move on to our next game,” Senderoff said. “It certainly wasn’t how we hoped it would be in terms of the first half in particular obviously. We were down eight points in the first half and one time 13 points. Not what we were expecting.”

It was the Flashes’ aggressive nature that gave them the advantage, however. Kent State was able to thrive at the free-throw line, shooting 25 of 39 compared to Malone’s 8 of 9. 

The Flashes also showed their willingness to crash the glass, as the team outrebounded Malone, 45-30, one of the biggest factors that helped the Flashes win.

Jimmy Hall dominates

Perhaps the biggest factor in Tuesday’s victory was the play of Jimmy Hall.

Hall exhibited a will to win that sparked the rest of the team, pulling in 10 of his 16 rebounds and scoring 12 of his 18 points in the second half.

“My teammates and coaches kept telling me to keep pushing, keep working hard, and that’s what I did,” Hall said.

Hall pulled in 10 of his 16 rebounds in the second half and scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half as well. 

The effort was much needed by Hall because the Flashes could not hit the mark for most of the game. Kent State shot 32 percent from the field and 16 percent from three-point territory.

Redshirt senior guard Derek Jackson scored nine points, senior Kris Brewer put in eight for the Flashes and senior Devareaux Manley and junior Kellon Thomas chipped in seven apiece.

It wasn’t the prettiest game for the Flashes, but they still got the job done. 

Kent State its five-game home stretch Friday, Nov. 21 at 7:30 p.m. against Southern Illinois University.

Contact Ray Strickland at [email protected].