Flashes basketball withstands late rally for first MAC win

Tim Dorst

Kent State struggled early offensively in Saturday’s game against Ball State, shooting nearly 30 percent and falling behind by eight points halfway through the first half.

The Flashes’ offense then found its spark and turned Kent State’s fortunes completely around.

A 28-5 run in the first half helped propel the Flashes to a 61-47 win over the Cardinals Saturday afternoon in Muncie, Ind. Kent State (10-6, 1-1 MAC) bounced back from its loss to Toledo Wednesday night to record its first conference victory of the season.

The Flashes scored the last 17 points of the first half, a run started by senior guard Randal Holt’s three-pointer, which gave the Flashes their first lead of the game with 6:02 remaining. Holt paced the Flashes in the game with 16 points while adding two rebounds and two assists.

Sophomore guard Devareaux Manley provided some much-needed offense off the bench for Kent State, scoring all eight of his points in the first half on 3-for-3 shooting. Manley’s three-pointer just before halftime gave the Flashes a 35-20 lead as the teams headed into the locker room.

With 14:52 left in the second half, Holt started a fast break off a steal and found Chris Evans for a dunk, good for two of Evans’ 12 points. The Flashes led 42-28 before Ball State began to battle back into the game.

The Cardinals went on a 16-2 run late in the second half to cut the Flashes lead down to two points, as Kent State went scoreless for nearly seven minutes. When it appeared the Cardinals would regain the lead late in the game, Kent State’s defense applied just enough pressure to keep Ball State from completely erasing the deficit.

The Flashes increased their lead back up to nine with 2:23 left in the game as free throws started to become a factor in the end result. Kent State converted on 77 percent (17-for-22) of its free throws attempts while the Cardinals struggled at the line, making just 8 of 24 shots.

Ball State was led by junior forward Majok Majok, who finished the game with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Majok’s struggles at the foul line echoed that of the rest of the team as he missed crucial free throws down the stretch and made just 7 of 17 total attempts.

The Cardinals also faced shooting troubles from the field, making less than 28 percent of their shots. Kent State overcame its early offensive struggles — the Flashes shot 2-for-12 early in the first half — to finish the game shooting 40 percent.

The Flashes will continue its conference schedule with a road showdown against MAC East Division foe Buffalo Wednesday night. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].