Men’s basketball ends homestand with loss



Nick Shook

Sophomore guard Kellon Thomas shoots a basket to tie the game against Bucknell on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2103. The Flashes fell to the Bisons 66-59. Photo by Chelsae Ketchum.

On a night when Kent State couldn’t get much going offensively, it seemed as though they might have needed a hero to lead the team to victory.

More than one Flash attempted to fill the role, but in the end, the scramble to take the lead did the Flashes in.

After overcoming a big run by visiting Bucknell, Kent State couldn’t get the points it needed most and fell 66-59 in front of 2,657 Wednesday night at the M.A.C. Center in Kent.

“I thought we tried to do too much of what I call ‘hero ball,’ where just guys, you know, ‘I gave up a basket, or maybe I was involved in giving up a basket so I’ve got to get it back myself,’ ” Flashes Coach Rob Senderoff said. “In the second half, it was just more of the same, and to Bucknell’s credit, they stuck with what they were doing.”

Kent State struggled to score for much of the evening, but the Flashes (8-2) found themselves with a 7-point lead and some glimpses of offensive cohesiveness fewer than five minutes into the second half. Unfortunately for them, the 15-minute mark spelled doom for the Flashes’ offense — and the opposite became true for Bucknell (4-4).

The visiting Bison went on a 15-0 run in a span of 6:36 to wrestle away the lead from the Flashes and go ahead by 8 points, taking most of the momentum with them in the process.

Flashes forward Darren Goodson ignited a 6-0 run all by himself, ending the drought with a free throw, then following it with a floater and a 3-pointer that brought the fans inside the M.A.C. Center to their feet and the Flashes within two.

Kent State guard Kellon Thomas tied the game up with a layup on the next possession, but Bucknell’s leading scorer Cameron Ayers, who was held without a made field goal in the first half, came alive at just the right time for the Bison. Ayers made a 3-pointer to give Bucknell a 56-53 lead with fewer than five minutes to play, and when it was time for Goodson and his fellow Flashes to do the same, they came up empty-handed.

After helping the Flashes get back into the game, Goodson missed a 3-pointer with Kent State trailing 61-57 with 1:19 left to play, but he wasn’t the only one to fail while trying to do too much too late. As a team, the Flashes made just 3 of 10 shots in the final 5:30, including four misses from deep.

“They were able to grind it out,” Senderoff said. “Guys that weren’t playing well early made big shots when they needed to, and our guys weren’t able to do that.”

With the Flashes trailing by four and less than a minute to play, guard Kris Brewer fired a pass toward Goodson, but the ball went through his hands and into the palms of Ayers.

“We just couldn’t make the right plays to get open shots for other guys,” said Goodson, who finished with a team-high 18 points and four rebounds. “Like coach said, a lot of guys were out there trying to play hero ball, myself in particular, instead of trying to make a play for a teammate. That isn’t the way we play.”

An and-one conversion on the other end by Bucknell’s Chris Hass put the game out of reach for the Flashes, who lost for the first time since Nov. 13.

Brian Fitzpatrick scored 16 points to lead the Bison, one of four players who finished in double-figures for Bucknell, which entered halftime trailing despite outplaying Kent State for much of the first half.

“Fitzpatrick is a good player,” Senderoff said. “He sort of had his way with our front-court guys, and for the most part, our front-court guys have played well. Tonight was not one of those nights.”

The Flashes were trying to avenge a 16-point loss at Bucknell in 2012 and complete a seven-game homestand undefeated but will instead enter a 17-day break with a bad taste in their mouths. The break will be a welcome sight for a team that has played nine games in 24 days, including three in three days at the end of November.

“I think we’re tired, I do,” Senderoff said. “It’s not an excuse. It is what it is; that’s the way the schedule played out, the three in a row. This break, I don’t know that I’m happy with the way we’re going into the break, but in a way, it is needed for us to get re-energized and refocused.”

The Flashes will take care of classes and finals before heading to Charleston, S.C., to take on the College of Charleston on Dec. 21.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].