After comeback fueled by threes, Flashes beat Huskies in OT

Richie Mulhall

In basketball, a team can either live or die by the three-pointer. One shot could mean the difference between playing the hero or playing the goat.

Old habits die hard, and it is well documented that Kent State (11-5, 2-1) is a team that loves to shoot the long ball.  With 119 made threes and a .353 three-point field goal percentage, the Flashes lead the league in the category.

Sometimes they reap the benefits of that statistic and sometimes they pay for it. But in Kent State’s in-conference game against Mid-American Conference rival Northern Illinois (7-8, 1-2 MAC) Wednesday night, the Flashes were alive and well from beyond the arc.

In game that featured numerous lead changes and exciting plays, the Flashes used their ability to shoot the three ball to come from behind and defeat the Huskies 73-64 inside the NIU Convocation Center.

The big play that tied the game up at 58 came, not oddly enough, from a thee-point play.

Junior guard Devareaux Manley sank the clutch, game-saving three-pointer with 39 seconds left in regulation that kept the Flashes alive sent the game hurling into overtime.

In extra time, Kent State took firm control of the game, outscoring the Huskies 15-6 on a fundamentally sound 10 of 12 shooting effort from the free throw line to finally pull away with the victory.

Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff said early in the first half the team missed a number of close opportunities and turned the ball over five times.  He said it was a similar story at the start of the second half when Northern Illinois was on mark and a number of Kent State players got into foul trouble.

At one point, the Flashes were down by 13 points with about 10 minutes left on the clock. 

During timeouts, Senderoff told his team to keep breathing and keep competing. And they did.

Even though the Flashes hit a lot of rough patches throughout the game, the players stepped up and made a number of huge plays down the stretch. Junior starting point guard Kris Brewer led the Flashes’ outstanding comeback effort with a team-leading 25 points on 6-of-13 shooting, three three-pointers and three steals.

“He’s our point guard and he’s our leader,” Senderoff said.  “The plays he made down the stretch were the type of plays that a guy in that position is supposed to make.”

Redshirt junior guard Derek Jackson also aided the Flashes’ comeback charge late in the second half, adding seven points onto two three-pointers and a free throw. Senderoff said Jackson continued to fight back alongside his teammates despite carrying four fouls.

Rebounding-wise, Kent State was not exactly up to par on the boards, but they made up for it in other ways on the court.

“[Northern Illinois] has the best rebounding team in the league, and we didn’t do a good job on the glass, but we did have more second-chance points than them, a big reason why we were able to win,” Senderoff said of the Huskies, which leads the MAC in rebounds with 217 total rebounds thus far this season.

In general, Senderoff said his team got into some sticky situations, but said he was pleased with the manner in which they were able to get out of them.

“Our kids were really resilient and competed really hard, and I’m damn proud of the guys that fought back and continued to compete when things weren’t going well for most of the game,” Senderoff said. 

Looking Ahead

Kent State will return to action this Saturday to face the Buffalo Bulls Bulls (8-5, 2-1), another MAC team that is currently 2-1 in the conference.

The Bulls are coming off a 67-65 buzzer-beater win over the Toledo Rockets. Buffalo will host the Flashes at 6 p.m. inside Alumni Arena, and the game will be aired as the MAC Game of Week Time Warner Cable Sports.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].