Second-half run dooms Flashes in nationally televised loss

Senior forward Chris Evans shoots for a basket during the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon game against Temple, November 13. The Flashes fell 80-66 during the 24 hour college basketball marathon. Photo by Chelsae Ketchum

Senior forward Chris Evans shoots for a basket during the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon game against Temple, November 13. The Flashes fell 80-66 during the 24 hour college basketball marathon. Photo by Chelsae Ketchum

Nick Shook

They showed skill and they showed talent, but in the end, it was Kent State’s inexperience and youth that proved to be the difference Tuesday afternoon.

After surrendering a 15-point lead, Temple responded with a 20-5 run that proved to be too much for the Flashes, who fell to the Owls 80-66 on national television in front of 2,415 at the Memorial Athletic Convocation Center in Kent, Ohio.

Kent State (1-1) tied Temple (1-0) 46-46 with 15:58 remaining in the game, but back-to-back 3-pointers by the Owls’ shooting guard Scootie Randall put Temple ahead by six and sparked a run that the Flashes simply could not withstand.

Sophomore guard Kris Brewer led the Flashes with a career-high 19 points, but he also saw the deficiencies in Kent State’s performance.

“We got stagnant on offense, we kind of got out of sync and they just went on a run and started making shots again,” Evans said.

Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff was disappointed in his group’s lack of team play, which he attributed to both a lack of experience and also a sense of selfishness among players.

“We’ve just got to get better, and there’s going to be some growing pains, it’s a new team and a new season,” Senderoff said. “As good and as well as I thought we played on Friday, we were equally as poor in a lot of aspects today.”

The team’s frustration boiled over late in the second half, when both Senderoff and senior Chris Evans were called for technical fouls.

“I take some responsibility for that, because I got one too,” Senderoff said. “But we’ve got to play without getting frustrated and we’ve got to play the next play, and we didn’t do that.”

“We just didn’t come out with the same energy that we played [with] last game,” Brewer said. “Coach said everybody was into themselves but I really didn’t see that.”

Randall made 10-of-19 field goals, including 5-of-12 from deep, and scored 10 of his career-high 31 points during the decisive 20-5 run in the second half.

“We did not do a very good job guarding [Randall] in any aspect,” Senderoff said. “Transition, even when we were guarding him we were standing there with our hands down. We just gave him too many good looks. 31 points, that’s a lot of points.”

Temple took its first big lead midway through the first half on an 18-6 run that lasted for more than four minutes. The Flashes were able to cut the deficit to single digits on an Evans layup with seven seconds left and entered halftime trailing the Owls 40-32.

Kent State continued its momentum by starting the second half on a quick 5-0 run to cut the Temple lead to three, and was able to tie it at 46-46, but the Flashes never regained the lead in the second half.

“It seemed like every time we made a good play, we couldn’t get that stop to put us over the hump,” Evans said.

Evans finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, but his stat line also housed the glare of eight turnovers.

“Some of it was careless turnovers, but some of them were just in the flow of the game when things weren’t really going the way that I thought it should go,” Evans said. “Can’t turn the ball over eight times and expect to win the game.”

Evans refused to blame the turnovers on a potential lack of familiarity with his teammates.

“Not at all, we’ve been playing with each other since June,” Evans said. “We know everybody’s game and know how everybody likes to play by now.”

Both Evans and Brewer emphasized the importance of focus and togetherness among the team as the season continues. Kent State will return to practice Wednesday to begin preparation for its next opponent, Chicago State, which travels to Kent on to face the Flashes at 7 p.m.

“We’ll watch some film and hopefully get better, digest what happened,” Senderoff said. “It’s a long season. You can’t get it back, you’ve just got to move on and Friday is another game.”

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].