Holt, Evans lead way for Flashes over Buffalo

Kent Senior Guard Randal Holt makes a jump shot at Buffalo on Jan. 16. Kent State won that game against Buffalo 80-68. Photo courtesy Nick Fischetti of The Spectrum.

Kent Senior Guard Randal Holt makes a jump shot at Buffalo on Jan. 16. Kent State won that game against Buffalo 80-68. Photo courtesy Nick Fischetti of The Spectrum.

Tim Dorst

The senior combination of Randal Holt and Chris Evans has become one of the best scoring duos in the Mid-American Conference, accounting for about 43 percent of the Flashes’ points this season. On Wednesday, the two gave a little something extra to the team’s cause and nearly doubled their average output.

Holt and Evans combined for 52 points as Kent State (11-6, 2-1 MAC) defeated Buffalo (5-12, 0-3 MAC) 80-68 Wednesday night in front of 3,057 at Alumni Arena in Buffalo, N.Y.

Holt tied his career high with 27 points, going 5-for-5 from 3-point range, and Evans recorded a double-double with 25 points, 14 rebounds and four steals. Head coach Rob Senderoff said the seniors provide a lot of key assets that allow the Flashes to be successful.

“In order for us to win, they have to continue to play the way they do,” Senderoff said. “They’re two seniors that play very well.”

Holt scored 19 points in the second half alone, 10 of which came when the starting point guard made four straight shots in the first three minutes of the half to help the Flashes maintain their lead.

When the Bulls took a 62-59 lead — their first lead in the game — with eight minutes left in the second half, Holt hit his third 3-pointer of the half to tie the game back up. Kent State regained the lead on an Evans layup and used a 14-2 run to pull away from Buffalo for good.

“(Holt) is one of the best shooters to come through here,” Senderoff said. “He had a great shooting performance from three tonight and also from the free throw line. He played very unselfishly and just did the little things to help us win, which is important for us.”

Buffalo kept the game close for much of the night behind the outstanding performance from forward Javon McCrea. McCrea finished with a career-high 33 points, including a perfect 15-for-15 shooting at the free throw line for a Bulls team that shot 87 percent from the charity stripe.

McCrea scored 21 points in the first half, but Kent State took a 40-36 lead into the locker room at halftime behind a strong showing by Evans. The senior forward led a 7-0 run for the Flashes beginning with a put back layup after grabbing an offensive rebound.

Evans forced a steal on the following Buffalo possession and scored on a fast break layup on the other side of the court. Evans then capped off the run with a windmill dunk on the fast break, extending Kent State’s lead to 10.

The Bulls opted to foul the Flashes in the final two minutes of the game, hoping for missed free throws that would extend the game and give Buffalo a chance to tie the game again. However, Holt and Evans calmly knocked down four free throws each to close out the game and ultimately seal the win.

The Flashes completed their second straight road win to remain one game back in the MAC East Division standings, behind only Akron and Ohio. Kent State will get its first look at the Akron Zips Saturday afternoon in the M.A.C Center, and Senderoff said he is hopeful that two straight road wins against conference opponents will give his team a boost in confidence.

“We know what we need to do to win,” Senderoff said. “It’s obviously an important game for us, with it being a division game, a league game, as well as a rivalry game. Hopefully, we’ll have a lot of people out there to support us.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].