Second half dooms men’s basketball in loss to Western Michigan


Kent State traveled to Western Michigan University Wednesday and fell to the Broncos with a final score of 82-76. Photo by Aaron Fishell for the Western Herald.

Tim Dorst

Kent State held a 10-point lead over Western Michigan with just under five minutes left in the first half Wednesday night in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Flashes maintained a lead for most of the game, but when the Broncos started to turn up their intensity, Kent State just couldn’t keep up.

The Broncos (15-7, 7-2 Mid-American Conference) scored 50 points in the second half alone to pull away for a 82-76 victory, extending their win streak to seven games while breaking a seven-game slide against the Flashes.

The Flashes (12-11, 3-6 MAC) led 76-75 with 1:41 remaining in the game when the Broncos began to show more urgency and aggressiveness on the offensive end. Western Michigan players were able to draw fouls from the Flashes and convert on a majority of their free throws, resulting in the last seven points to push them ahead for good.

Kent State had multiple chances in the last minute and a half to regain the lead but simply could not capitalize on those opportunities.

“We were right there again,” Flashes head coach Rob Senderoff said. “We just needed a couple more stops and to execute better at the end. We are getting closer, but we are not there yet.”

Defense appeared to be a major issue for the Flashes in the second half, as the Broncos were able to whittle away at Kent’s 38-32 halftime lead and make a number of key shots to remain in the game. The Broncos took their first lead of the game when junior guard David Brown nailed a 3-point shot, drew a foul from senior forward Chris Evans and made the free throw to complete the four-point play and make the score 50-49.

Evans responded immediately with a three-point jumper of his own to snatch the lead away from the Broncos, but the two teams battled back and forth and traded leads for the next three minutes.

A dunk by junior forward Mark Henniger and a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Kris Brewer sparked a 13-2 run for the Flashes, pushing their lead back up to eight. But fouls began to rack up quickly for Kent State, and Western Michigan took advantage of its chances at the foul line.

All five starters for the Flashes finished the game with at least four fouls, and junior forward Darren Goodson fouled out late in the second half. Senderoff said while the fouls definitely played a big part in the game, the players should not use that as an excuse for the loss.

“[Foul trouble] makes it harder, but at the end of the day you have to find a way to get stops at the end,” Senderoff said.

For much of the game, offense seemed to come easy for Kent State. The Flashes made 12-of-27 from 3-point range, with Brewer and senior guard Randal Holt leading the way with four each. Four players scored in double figures for the game, including Evans with 19 points and Holt contributing with 18.

“We had a number of guys play really well tonight,” Senderoff said. “Goodson, Holt, Brewer and Evans all had good games. But even with that we have to find ways to get over the hump in these close games.”

The offense faltered in the final minutes, and the Flashes missed their last three shots that would have either tied the game or kept the game within reach.

Kent State surpassed its average scoring output with 76 points, but Senderoff noted that in order to win games, defense must always accompany offense.

“Ninety times out of 100, scoring 76 is going to be enough,” Senderoff said. “It wasn’t our offense. We had an eight-point lead and needed to make a couple of more defensive plays.”

The Flashes had a difficult time defending Brown in the second half, and the junior made the most of his minutes on the floor. Brown scored 22 points in 25 minutes to lead the Broncos, shooting a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and 11-for-14 from the free throw line. Junior center Shayne Whittington added 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and 9-of-11 from the line.

Kent State, which has now lost five of its last six games, will look for its second straight home win when it hosts Central Michigan at 7 p.m. Saturday at the M.A.C. Center.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].