Men’s Basketball comeback falls short in loss to Seton Hall

Tim Dorst

Much like in Monday night’s 81-77 win against Temple, the Kent State men’s basketball team erased a significant deficit against Seton Hall to get back into the game and make it competitive in the final minutes.

The end result was quite different, however, as the Flashes’ late push came up just short in a 78-76 loss to the Pirates Wednesday night in South Orange, N.J.

Kent State (2-1) trailed the Pirates (2-0) for a majority of the game, with Seton Hall leading by as many as 11 points in the second half. But the Flashes withstood the pressure applied by the Pirates and capitalized on strong play from their reserves to fire back at the Pirates.

Junior guard Kris Brewer led the Flashes with a career-high 28 points off the bench, including a 3-pointer late in the second half that put his team ahead by a point with five minutes remaining in the game.

Altogether, 24 of the Flashes’ 76 points came from players off the bench.

Head coach Rob Senderoff said he was still proud of the way his team continued to battle despite getting into early foul trouble and falling behind by double digits on more than one occasion.

“We didn’t play very well in the first half, but they showed great resilience to stay in it,” Senderoff said. “Brewer was fantastic, and we got great minutes from young guys like (sophomore guard) Kellon Thomas and (sophomore forward) Khaliq Spicer, especially in the second half as we fought back.”

Spicer, who pitched in 10 points in a reserve role, and Thomas, who added six points and four assists, were key players down the stretch as Kent State continue closing the gap against Seton Hall. Trailing by eight points midway through the second half, Spicer received a pass from Thomas and finished strong with a dunk, prompting the Pirates to call a timeout.

Seton Hall bumped its lead back up to 10 with a short run, but a 3-point play off a layup by Thomas and a pair of jump shots by Brewer cut the deficit to 64-62 with six and a half minutes remaining.

Spicer scored again with a dunk later in the half, and Brewer drained a 3-pointer to give the Flashes a one-point lead, the team’s first lead since early in the first half.

The Pirates regained the lead on a layup by Fuquan Edwin and led by five as the game shifted into the final three minutes. Brewer once again brought the Flashes close with two free throws and a layup but fouled Edwin with a minute and a half left, sending him to the free throw line.

With Kent State trailing 76-71 with 30 seconds left in regulation, junior guard Devareaux Manley hit a 3-pointer off an assist by Thomas to bring the team within two. After Seton Hall turned the ball over, Manley’s second 3-point attempt in as many possession bounced off the rim and into the hands the hands of the Pirates, who sealed the win with two free throws.

The Pirates managed to draw more fouls throughout the game than the Flashes did, converting on 32-of-34 shots from the stripe. Kent State finished with nearly half the number of attempts, shooting 14-of-18 at the line.

“We’ll learn from this game and get better from it,” Senderoff said. “I can’t say enough of what Kellon Thomas did on this road trip. He was great on Monday night, too, when we won at Temple. Spicer keeps getting better, and (sophomore forward) Chris Ortiz hit a big 3-pointer to help our second-half comeback. Those are young players making key plays when we had to have them.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].