Second-half slump costs Flashes in 71-60 loss to Buffalo

Richie Mulhall

The three-point shot saved the Kent State men’s basketball team (11-6, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) last Wednesday night in its come-from-behind win against Northern Illinois, but it did nothing to help the Flashes on Saturday against Buffalo (9-5, 3-1 MAC) inside UB Arena.

Once again living and dying by the three, the Flashes shot a meager 27.3 percent on 6-22 shooting from beyond the arc in their 71-62 loss to the Bulls.

On top of the Flashes’ three-point shooting woes, Kent State also failed to execute on one of the main fundamentals of basketball Saturday night: foul shooting. 

Kent State Coach Rob Senderoff said Buffalo did all the right things in the second half to win, whereas Kent State did not.

“We played well for a half, but you have to play two halves to win in this league,” Senderoff said in his press conference Saturday evening. “[Buffalo] hit their free throws and they made a ton of toughness plays in the second half. 

In its game against Buffalo, Kent State struggled from the line and connected on only 6 of its 13 free throws (46.2 percent). Comparing that with the Bulls’ 91.3 percent on 21-23 shooting from the same line 15 feet away from the hoop, it is not too difficult to see where Kent State’s 11-point deficit came from. 

“They did the things they needed to do to win and we didn’t,” Senderoff said.

The Flashes started off the game rolling, shooting 50 percent from the field and forcing nine Buffalo turnovers. Thanks to pin-point accuracy on offense and strong defensive stands, Kent State led the game 29-27 at the break. 

It was not until the start of the second that things began to take a turn for the worse for the Flashes. 

The Bulls completely turned the tables on Kent State and took control of the second 20 minutes of the game. Junior Will Regan led the late-game charge for Buffalo, posting 21 points and grabbing nine rebounds in the second period alone. 

The 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward finished the game with 25 points and 10 rebounds en route to a double—double.

“Regan killed us, and we didn’t didn’t do a good enough job overall on the defensive end,” Senderoff said. “We didn’t turn them over enough, especially in the second half. They had too many offensive rebounds and they made the big plays when they needed to.”

Senderoff gave credit to the Bulls for their ability to make tough shots in the second stanza of the game but said his team could have made better adjustments in the way of communicating effectively on defense.

“I give [Buffalo] credit because they still had to make the shots, but you can’t have those kinds of communication errors and leave guys open,” Senderoff said. “We didn’t communicate the way we need to in order to win on the road. We just broke down defensively on a few plays that allowed them to get open looks.”

Kent State junior guard Devareaux Manley, who played the hero in Kent State’s 73-64 overtime victory against Northern Illinois, put up 17 points during his 37 minutes on the court, but he did not receive much help from the rest of the team. He and fellow junior guard Kris Brewer were the only Flashes to hit all of their free throws. Manley and Brewer’s other four teammates who took trips to the line combined to go 1-of-9 from the foul line.

“Dev played well. He’s playing with confidence on the offensive end,” Senderoff said. “He’s been putting in extra work, and when you do that, you usually see the results.”

After Saturday’s loss, Kent State now drops to 2-2 in the MAC. The Flashes will return home Thursday to host the Western Michigan Broncos — also 2-2 in the MAC — at the M.A.C. Center.

 Contact Richie at [email protected]