The Kent State men’s basketball team started its four-game series on the road the right way.
The Flashes defeated Northern Illinois 84-77 on Saturday night.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said Kent State coach Geno Ford. “That was a good game for us.”
Senior guard Rod Sherman led the Flashes with a career-high 25 points, making him the 27th player in Kent State history to score over 1,000 points in a career.
Kent State: 84
Northern Illionois: 77
Game highlights Rod Sherman led the Flashes with 25 points Xavier Silas of N. Illinois led all scorers with 34 points The Flashes resume play Wednesday at Miami (Ohio)
Junior forward Justin Greene also had a big game by contributing 18 points.
“When we win the battle of five feet (from the net) and in, we’re very good,” Ford said. “We have a lot of guards who can drive it in, and Greene, who we can throw it off to.”
That strong offensive attack gave the Flashes (17-7, 8-2 Mid-American Conference) a boost late in the first half, leading to a 42-33 lead at halftime.
But the victory can be credited to the team’s defense during the second half.
Northern Illinois senior guard Xavier Silas, who finished the game with 34 points, sparked a second half run for the Huskies (7-16, 3-8 MAC).
“It’s one thing to score 34, but he did it efficiently,” Ford said. “He’s not a good player; he’s a great player. I thought we would get beat if he went off, and (even though) that’s what happened, we pulled it off.”
While most star players favor a particular section of the court, Silas was “the toughest to cover.”
Ford said he did not want to double-team Silas because he would just pass it off to a teammate.
“We wanted to make it so he had to make tough shots,” Ford said. “He did (take tough shots), but he drilled them. We actually have good perimeter defenders, but it didn’t look like that (Saturday) because (Northern Illinois) had good offense.”
The Huskies offense also went 18-25 from the foul line, adding to their second half run.
Even with players close to fouling out – like junior guard Michael Porrini who fouled four times – the Flashes used their young, yet deep, bench to help out.
“When we had guys in foul trouble, we still had a guy behind him who could help out,” Ford said. “You have to have young guys who can do that.”
Freshman guard Eric Gaines did just that, scoring 10 points and earning three key rebounds.
With the first of four road games handled victoriously, the Flashes are on a six-game winning streak and in first place in the MAC East.
Ford said the victory at Northern Illinois helped lessen the pressure of the other games this week.
“This was a huge road win for us,” Ford said. “The Miami game on Wednesday was going to be big enough without us worrying about the added pressure of not being able to win on the road. It was important for us to start this stretch off right.”
Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected]