Holt leads men’s basketball past Central Michigan

Photo courtesy of Central Michigan

Photo courtesy of Central Michigan

Nick Shook

Randal Holt led the Kent State Flashes to their third-straight victory, but not without a little bit of faith.

“I started to feel it offensively as soon as I got done praying to the Lord, before the game started,” Holt said.

Divine intervention or not, Kent State continued its winning streak Tuesday with a 67-60 victory over Central Michigan. Despite turning the ball over 20 times, the Flashes outlasted the Chippewas behind Holt’s 23-point performance.

“Randal’s been playing great the last month,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “He had a huge game tonight. We needed every point he gave us…He’s a guy who can score and he’s been scoring for us all year, and tonight was his night.”

Holt scored the game’s first basket, a 3-pointer from the corner, and kept Kent State’s offense going throughout the night. The junior guard scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half and was 7-of-10 from the field, including 4-for-5 from behind the arc.

“Randal has elevated his game this year, that’s for sure,” assistant coach Eric Haut said. “He’s been making big shots all year. He’s playing with a ton of confidence and most importantly, he’s a gamer.”

Kent State and Central Michigan entered the half tied at 32-32, but a 14-3 Flashes run to start the second half gave them an 11-point lead. It appeared as though Kent State was poised to take control of the game. However, Central Michigan responded with a 9-0 run to cut Kent State’s lead to two points. The Flashes were again presented with a familiar situation: respond, or give in.

“That’s a big thing for us. It’s something we talk about a lot,” Senderoff said. “When other teams go on a run, you’ve gotta answer.”

The Flashes answered with another small run, but the Chippewas remained relentless and trailed Kent State by just one point with 6:52 remaining in the game. In a game in which 41 fouls were called, the difference in the game came at the free-throw line, where Kent State made 17 of 21 attempts.

“Obviously it wasn’t the prettiest game tonight,” Senderoff said. “It was an ugly game. It didn’t really have a flow to it, but it came out victorious for us.”

The win was Kent State’s third conference win in a row and second-straight on the road. The Flashes will return to Kent for a much-needed day off after spending five days on the road and will return to practice Thursday. Kent State will host Western Michigan at the M.A.C. Center Saturday night. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

“We’ve got the next six of our nine games at home,” Holt said. “We’re a very good home team, and we’re trying to get it going on the road, so that’s going to be big.”

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected] or @NickShookDKS