Men’s basketball ends season with 73-59 loss to Loyola

Tim Dorst

Kent State came into the second round of the Postseason Tournament with the hopes of keeping its season alive and ultimately claiming a tournament championship. Instead, the Flashes will return to Kent having played their last game of the 2012-2013 season.

Kent State could not overcome early offensive struggles, falling 73-59 to the Loyola Maryland Greyhounds on Sunday afternoon at Reitz Arena in Baltimore, Md.

The Greyhounds (23-11) advanced to the next round of the CIT to face East Carolina, while the Flashes finished their season with a 21-14 overall record. Loyola guard Erik Etherly took over the game against the Flashes scoring 27 points, shooting just 5-for-13 but going 17-for-19 from the free throw line.

The Flashes never got into their usual offensive rhythm, making only 27 percent of their shots from the field and 3-for-18 from beyond the 3-point arc. Head coach Rob Senderoff said it was just simply a rough game for his team.

“We didn’t shoot the ball very well, and Etherly and [Dylon] Cormier for Loyola were really good,” Senderoff said. “We had a tough time with both of them.”

Cormier, the Greyhounds’ leading scorer this season, came off the bench to score 18 points on 5-for-13 shooting. Guard Robert Olson also pitched in with 10 points for Loyola.

Kent State began to fall behind early in the first half when Loyola on a 9-0 run to take a 13-4 lead. Senior guard Randal Holt hit a mid-range jumper to spark a small run for the Flashes, but the Greyhounds managed to hold off a number of Kent State shots around the rim.

Later in the first half, a layup by freshman guard Kellon Thomas and a dunk by freshman forward Khaliq Spicer cut the deficit to three points. Junior guard Bryson Pope converted on four straight free throws, but the Flashes still trailed 31-25 going into halftime.

It was a tough first half for senior forward Chris Evans, who was held scoreless for the half on 0-for-5 shooting. Evans finished the game with 13 points but shot only 2-for-11 for the entire game.

Holt added 13 points to the cause, and junior forward Darren Goodson finished with 12 points.

Loyola came out in the second half determined to extend its lead in the game. Forward Anthony Winbush hit a pair of free throws and Olson followed with a couple of 3-pointers, as the Greyhounds suddenly led by 11 points in the first five minutes of the half.

The Flashes did what they could in the second half to cut into the lead. A steal by Holt led to an easy layup by Evans to get back within nine points of the Greyhounds, but the aggressive play of Etherly continually drew fouls throughout the half, and the senior was able to convert on a majority of his shots from the charity stripe.

The Greyhounds pushed their lead up to 15 on a layup by Cormier with 6:29 left in the game. The Flashes’ comeback effort was halted by making a mere 25 percent of their shots in the second and allowed Loyola to extend its lead and put the game out of reach.

Despite the loss, Senderoff said he is extremely proud of what the players on his team were able to accomplish this season amidst all the challenge the Flashes have faced.

“Our players who are coming back just have to continue to get better and to work,” Senderoff said. “I’m also very proud of the year that Chris and Randal had.”

Holt, Evans and senior forward Brian Frank all played their final game as members of Kent State’s basketball team. While he is disappointed that their season ended the way it did, Senderoff sees bright futures for his seniors and the mark they made on their teammates this season.

“The seniors did a great job,” Senderoff said. “Chris’ work ethic and Randal’s competitiveness and Brian Frank’s commitment to the group are all things future players here and returning players here can emulate.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].