Shooting woes, rebounding frustrations resurface in Flashes’ 73-66 loss to Bowling Green

Kent State sophomore guard Kellon Thomas drives to the basket past Bowling Green junior forward Richaun Holmes, at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Wednesday evening, Feb. 26, 2014. Kent State fell to the Falcons, 73-6.

Kent State sophomore guard Kellon Thomas drives to the basket past Bowling Green junior forward Richaun Holmes, at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Wednesday evening, Feb. 26, 2014. Kent State fell to the Falcons, 73-6.

Richard Mulhall

The Kent State men’s basketball team’s 73-66 loss to Bowling Green Wednesday night served as a not-so-friendly reminder that in spite of constant efforts to preserve a positive outlook on this season, many of the previous frustrations and struggles the team has been through this season are far from over.

The Flashes (15-13, 6-9 Mid-American Conference) attacked the rim against the Falcons (11-16, 5-9 MAC) and attempted 48 of their 63 total shots from inside the three-point arc.

They steered clear from the three-ball most of the night and did what head coach Rob Senderoff said his team needed to do more often: drive the lane and attack the hoop with authority. And that’s exactly what Kent State did Wednesday night.

There was only one major flaw in the plan, though: Other than junior guard Devareaux Manley, who posted a respectable 16 points on a solid 6-13 shooting effort, Kent State could not seem to make a shot.

The Flashes only attempted 15 three-pointers, and for one of the first times this season, it was not the long-range jumpers that doomed Kent State. It was the Flashes’ short-range game that cost them this time around.

The Flashes only converted 34.9 percent of the shots they launched from inside the paint.  

“We didn’t shoot a lot of 3’s,” Senderoff said. “We shot a lot of balls right on top of the rim. They had nine blocks, so I’m sure they had a little bit to do with that, but we have to do a better job of finishing.”

Kent State did some of the “little things” that Senderoff and the players emphasize at practice, like minimizing turnovers and capitalizing on opportunities to score points in the paint.

The Flashes only committed eight turnovers and matched the Falcons 32 points in the paint with 30 of their own points in the paint.

Despite these small steps in the right direction, thought, they could not make up fort the giant bounds the team made in the wrong direction Wednesday night.

The Flashes might not have had a lot of turnovers, but they certainly had difficult time maintaining possession of the ball all throughout the game, especially when it came to rebounding, a component of the stats column that proved to be the determining factor in the result of the contest.

Bowling Green outrebounded the Flashes 25-19 in the first half and continued to crash the boards effectively into the second half. The Falcons’ significant size advantage allowed them to interiorly bully Kent State and dominate the paint all night long.

By the end of the evening, Bowling Green had outrebounded the Flashes by a 44-31 margin.

“We’ve struggled to rebound the ball all year,” Senderoff said. “We have to play more physical and play tougher.”

Despite late second-half flickers of offense and energy from Manley, senior forward Mark Henniger and sophomore guard Kellon Thomas, the Flashes could not make a substantial enough run in the final minutes of regulation

Outgunned and outperformed by Bowling Green, the Flashes fell short by a six-point deficit as the Falcons held on to win.

Still perplexed at times by the up-and-down season the Flashes have produced, Senderoff showed signs in post-game interviews that his patience with his team may be wearing thin.

“We just didn’t play well tonight,” Senderoff said. “I’m not sure why. It’s hard to explain.”

A number of Kent State’s marquee players had rough games against Bowling Green in this second meeting of the season between these two in-conference rivals.

Unable to even make it out of the blocks, Senior forward Darren Goodson couldn’t seem to get any of his shots to fall, shooting a mere 8 percent from the field and only connecting on one of his 12 attempted shots.

He only saw 11 minutes of action in his nightmarish outing at the Stroh Center, a performance he probably wishes to forget.

To many observing Kent State fans, Wednesday night’s loss seems like a step backwards and not the performance the Flashes are looking for and need right now.

With the MAC Tournament just two weeks away, Kent State’s second straight loss and ninth loss in the conference could not have come at a more inopportune time right now.

This Saturday, the Flashes will look to rebound and regroup once again as they travel to Athens and get set to take on Ohio (19-8, 9-5 MAC) inside the Convocation Center.

The Bobcats are coming off a close 69-64 loss to Buffalo Wednesday night at home and will also look to bounce back with a win of its own as the regular season comes to a close and the MAC Tournament ensues.

What lies in store for Kent State in the MAC Tournament will be determined soon enough.

Contact Richard Mulhall at [email protected].