Flashes host Central Michigan in search of second straight home win


Kent State Men’s Basketball forward Khaliq Spicer hangs from the rim aftering dunking during Kent State’s game against Ohio University in the M.A.C. Center on Jan. 26, 2013. The Golden Flashes lost to the Bobcats, 69-68, with an intense last-second ending. Photo by Jessica Denton.

Tim Dorst

The men’s basketball team returns home once again to start a two-game home stand after another difficult loss on the road, hoping to gain some ground in the Mid-American Conference.

The Flashes will host Central Michigan at 7 p.m. Saturday at the M.A.C. Center.

After breaking a four-game losing streak last Saturday with a 77-62 win over Eastern Michigan, Kent State saw another game slip away in the waning minutes Wednesday in an 82-76 loss to Western Michigan.

The latest loss, the Flashes’ fifth in the last six games, dropped them to 12-11 on the season and 3-6 in the MAC. The team now faces a difficult climb up the standings, sitting six games back of East division-leader Akron with seven conference games remaining on the schedule.

Senior forward Chris Evans said the game against the Broncos was another winnable game that got away and another product of not making enough plays in the final minutes of the game to hold on for the win.

“We were up by one with a minute and fifty to go,” Evans said. “But then we didn’t get a defensive stop, and we didn’t get a rebound at one time off a blocked shot. So we just have to find a way to come up with winning plays. I know we keep saying it, but we just have to find ways. No excuses can be made.”

The Flashes’ offense has been playing at a higher level as of late, scoring in the high 70s the past two games. But when the offense falters and the shots stop falling, Evans said, the Flashes need to be able to fall back on their defensive execution.

“At this point in the season with eight games left, we can’t really dictate your offense,” Evans said. “There are going to be nights when your shot doesn’t fall, and you can’t really control that. So the only thing we can control is defending and rebounding, and we have to get back to defending at a higher level.”

Kent State will take on Central Michigan, who has a regular season record of 9-13, including a 2-7 record in conference play. The Chippewas have lost five straight games and seven of their last eight, dropping their last game 68-56 on the road against the Akron Zips.

One of the Chippewas’ main focuses on offense is the 3-point shot, as they lead the MAC in 3-pointers made (70) and attempted (234). That will be a focus for the Flashes’ defensively when Saturday night comes around.

“Coach told us they shoot mostly 3-pointers, more than anyone in the conference,” Evans said. “We have to do a good job at defending the 3-point line and do a good defensive job on their guys as a team.”

Senior guard Kyle Randall will likely be the player to watch for the Chippewas. Randall averages 17.1 points per game, putting him third among all MAC players in that category, and shots 37 percent from 3-point range.

The Flashes’ offense appears to be finding its rhythm over the course of the last couple games, with players such as junior forward Darren Goodson and sophomore guard Kris Brewer providing the team with more scoring options.

Brewer, who scored 15 points Wednesday against the Broncos, said he likes the way the offense has been looking lately.

“We’re sharing the ball really well, and we’re getting in the gym and putting up extra shots,” Brewer said. “So that’s helping us out really well right now with our shooting and our overall offense.”

The Flashes have been looking for players to step up and contribute on the offensive end along with leading scorers Evans and senior guard Randal Holt. Evans said having other guys putting up double-figure stats in the scoring column gives the team a big boost.

“Anytime we can get Darren and Kris going, that definitely helps out your game,” Evans said. “That definitely helps the team because the defense can’t just focus in on me and Randal. When you have four people clicking on the same night, it’s much harder to beat us and to focus on four people instead of two.”

Rebounding will be another focal point for the Flashes, who were out-rebounded 35-27 against the Broncos. Brewer said defense and rebounding go hand-in-hand, with both aspects being essential if the team is to pick up the win against the Chippewas.

“We didn’t defend well last game. We didn’t rebound as much either, and we just didn’t play as a team toward the end,” Brewer said. “[The Chippewas] like to get shots off of transition, so hopefully we can stop them there. Defensive effort, rebounding, and sharing the ball — that’s what we’ll need to do.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].