Men’s basketball team drops third straight

Nick Shook

Kent State’s top players have struggled as of late, and Sunday was no different for the Flashes.

Seniors Chris Evans and Randal Holt combined for just 17 points as the Flashes failed to capitalize on a strong defensive effort in the first half and fell to the host Xavier Musketeers, 62-55, in front of 9,622 at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Kent State (5-5) held Xavier (7-2) to 21 percent shooting in the first half and reached halftime trailing by only two points, but an inept offensive performance from its better shooters prevented the Flashes from keeping pace with the Musketeers in the second half.

The game was tied at 33-33 with 11:41 left to play when it all came apart for Kent State. Xavier guard Dee Davis made back-to-back shots, the latter of which a 3-pointer, to give the Musketeers a quick five-point lead. After a miss by Holt, the Musketeers’ Brad Redford sank a 3-pointer and forced Flashes coach Rob Senderoff to call a timeout.

“Our main guys are struggling,” Senderoff said. “It’s tough for us to win when Chris [Evans] and Randal [Holt] go 6 for 35.”

Junior forward Melvin Tabb used his best performance yet as a Golden Flash to keep Kent State in the game, but shoddy defense made any comeback attempt increasingly difficult. Xavier made 14-of-24 shots, including 4-of-6 from behind the arc in the second half to keep the Flashes from mounting a serious comeback. Tabb, however, kept on with his impressive play, making 9-of-10 shots to finish with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

“If you would have told me Melvin would go for 20 [points] and 14 [rebounds], I would have told you we’re probably going to win,” Senderoff said. “We’ve just got to play better, we’ve got to compete, we’ve got to find a way — everyone in the locker room.”

Semaj Christon finished with 18 points to lead the Musketeers, who earned another victory at home, where they have often been nearly unbeatable in the past.

“There’s a lot of teams that aren’t going to win at Xavier,” Senderoff said. “I’m not going to get too down.

“We’re 5-5; we’ve lost three straight games. That’s very, very disappointing. But, I thought we took a step forward defensively today and hopefully we’ll continue to get better from this.”

Kent State takes an 11-day break from game action to focus on final exams and will return to the court on Dec. 20 when it hosts St. Francis (Pa.) at the M.A.C. Center.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].