Evans banks in game winner as men’s basketball tops Bulls in overtime


The Kent State men’s basketball team celebrates with Chris Evans after he made the winning basket in overtime against Buffalo on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The final score was 83-81. Photo by Jenna Watson.

Tim Dorst

Kent State was tied 81-81 in overtime against Buffalo Wednesday night in the M.A.C. Center with 19 seconds to go. After a missed free throw by Buffalo guard Tony Watson, senior forward Chris Evans pulled down the rebound for the Flashes and brought the ball back down to the other end.

Evans let the clock run down inside 10 seconds before taking what seemed like a nearly impossible shot as the final buzzer sounded.

The 6-foot-8 senior dribbled the ball into the teeth of the Buffalo defense, facing down forward Javon McCrea and two other Bulls defenders. Evans took contact and shot the ball over the outstretched hands of three defenders, the ball hitting the top-right corner of the square on the backboard and falling right through the net as time expired.

The shot gave the Flashes (16-12, 6-7 Mid-American Conference) their second win over the Bulls (11-17, 6-7 MAC) this season and their 16th straight home win against them.

“I just had a good look,” Evans said. “(My defender) ran up on me to try to press me, and I was able to get around him and bank it off the glass.”

Evans’ first career game-winner capped off a game in which the Flashes found themselves down by nine points at halftime. The Bulls attacked the paint relentlessly in the first half with very little resistance and were able to score 24 of their 41 points from up close.

The second half was almost an entirely different story, as Kent State found its spark on both sides. Junior forward Melvin Tabb was one of the players who provided the spark the Flashes needed, playing only in the second half and scoring 12 points off the bench before fouling out in the extra session.

“I’m really proud of how he played because I think he gave us that spark,” Flashes coach Rob Senderoff said. “Along with the points and rebounds, just his energy and how he came out seemed to energize the rest of our team. We didn’t have a lot of energy going into halftime at all.”

Despite the first half struggles, senior guard Randal Holt kept the game in reach with his pinpoint shooting and went into halftime with 14 points. Holt finished with six 3-pointers as part of his career-high 28 points.

“It was just a great win,” Holt said. “There were a lot of times during the game where we could’ve folded and quit playing, but we didn’t. Buffalo made some big plays down the stretch, but we stayed solid, we stuck to our principles and we stayed confident. We knew we were going to win this game.”

The Flashes had an opportunity with less than a minute to go to win, but Watson knocked the ball away from Holt and forced a tie-up, with the possession arrow pointing in the Bulls’ favor.

Buffalo guard Jarryn Skeete drove the length of the court in four seconds and got his shot up at the buzzer, but it hit the backboard and the rim before bouncing off. The game shifted to overtime tied at 73.

After a number of losses this season, Senderoff said it felt good to have a close game go his team’s way for a change.

“Just an unbelievable game,” Senderoff said. “Our kids certainly deserved, in my eyes at least, to win one of these close games. We were really resilient, and it was a great job by a lot of guys. I could point out just about everybody for making a big play. So I’m very proud of the guys for finding a way to win.”

The Flashes will be on the road against another MAC rival this weekend when they take on Miami at 3 p.m. Saturday at Millett Hall in Oxford, Ohio.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].