Men’s basketball team looks to avoid more hiccups on road trip

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State men’s basketball team (10-5, 1-1 Mid-American Conference) is packing its bags and headed on its first road trip of the MAC portion of the season. 

The first stop along the way of the two-game road series will be DeKalb, Ill., where the Flashes will square off with a familiar foe in the form of the Northern Illinois Huskies.

Kent State definitely has a score to settle with the Huskies after its longtime rival snapped the Flashes’ 11-game winning streak last season. In a close contest that went down to the wire, Northern Illinois topped Kent State 67-65 Jan. 30, 2013, at Northern Illinois.

Now 1-1 in the conference, the Flashes will seek to avenge last season’s loss and carry the momentum the team gained from its high-scoring game against Ball State into DeKalb.

Both Kent State and Ball State are coming off of wins in the MAC. On the road, Ball State defeated Bowling Green 45-36, and Kent State defended the house with an 86-74 victory over Ball State. 


Senior forward Darren Goodson attempts to make a basket for Kent State in the game against Ball Sate on January 11, 2013. After a rough start, Kent State came back to win the game 86-74. Photo by Melanie Nesteruk.

After falling behind 39-32 to close out the first half of play, the Flashes turned things around in the second half and began an offensive surge led by senior Darren Goodson. Posting a career-high 23 points on a 9-of-12 shooting night, Goodson came through in the clutch when his team needed him most. 

Goodson said he got “lost in the game” and allowed himself to take control of the game, especially when senior center Majok Majok of Ball State got into foul trouble in the second stanza of the contest. 

Goodson said Majok was killing Kent State on the boards all night, but when Ball State’s big man was forced to take a breather, Goodson jumped at the opportunity to “make the right plays to win the game.”

Goodson also ended the night with a team-high seven rebounds, all were grabbed in a 28-minute period.

“Other games I was worried about should I shoot or should I pass, so I picked my spots and took my opportunities,” Goodson said. “I was just trying to find a way to help the team win.”

Kent State coach Rob Senderoff said Goodson was coming into practice early in the past few weeks to work on his shooting with assistant coach Eric Haut nearly every day.

“We need [Goodson] to continue to play well,” Senderoff said. “He’s a senior, and he’s one of our best players.”

Senderoff said he was happy with his team’s performance, especially the way Goodson and company crashed the boards and dominated the paint.

“We shot the ball well, defended well, rebounded well all in the second half, so hopefully that gives us some confidence going into the road games [against Northern Illinois and Buffalo],” Senderoff said. “Even though we’re not really big, we’ve shown some grittiness on the glass.”

Senderoff said Kent State is the third most-efficient offense in the league, scoring 74.3 points per game despite only having one player in the MAC’s top 20 scorers list.

Senderoff said in order for his team to be successful, it has to be able to grind out tough, come-from-behind victories, something it has developed a knack for as of late.

Early in the Ball State game, the Cardinals jumped out to a 20-7 lead in the first half, but the Flashes eventually whittled away at the lead before finally overtaking the Cardinals for the win.

“We have shown some toughness in games battling back from some games where we’ve been behind, including in this Ball State game, so we gotta continue to do that over the next two months to maintain our success.”

Whether the Flashes fight from behind or challenge from ahead, Senderoff said the goal of the next few road games is improvement.

“We’re just trying to continue to get better,” Senderoff said.  “I thought the second half against Ball State was a step in the right direction for us.”

Wednesday’s game will begin at 8 p.m. Kent State will next travel to Buffalo on Saturday to face the Bulls in another MAC contest.

Richie Mulhall is a sports reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].