Men’s basketball beats Ball State 66-53

Rachel Jones

Next game for men’s basketball

Sunday at 2 p.m. against Toledo at the M.A.C. Center.

Strong defensive play and 3-point shooting carried the Kent State men’s basketball team to a 66-53 victory at Ball State Thursday night.

We didn’t want to get their shooters going, nor did we what their big men going inside,” said sophomore guard Randal Holt. “We just made them take tough shots, and we rebounded after every shot.”

The Flashes (13-7, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) held Ball State’s Jarrod Jones – who averages 15.1 points a game – to just five points.

While the defense played harder, Kent State coach Geno Ford said he spent the first half worrying about the offense.

“In the first half, I didn’t know if we were ever going to score, to be honest,” Ford said. “They’re one of the better defensive teams in our league, man-to-man.”

But the Flashes were only down one time during the entire game.

One minute after Ball State took their lone lead of the game, a layup by Flashes freshman guard Eric Gaines followed by a 3-pointer by junior guard Carlton Guyton put Kent State back on top with a 7-4 lead seven minutes into the game.

Holt lead the team with three 3-pointers and 21 points, and senior guard Rod Sherman was close behind with 15 points.

Ball State (13-6, 5-1 MAC) pushed through and ended the half trailing the Flashes 30-27.

Four free throws in less than a minute brought the Cardinals just one point behind the Flashes with 17 minutes left in the game.

“We wanted to be a tougher team, get rebounds and all of the dirty stuff,” Holt said.

With that mindset, Kent State continued playing strong defense and leading the Cardinals.

After controlling Ball State’s offense, it was up to the Flashes to take over with what Ford said was one of the best 15-minute stretches of offense this season.

One minute after Holt sank a 3-pointer, Sherman executed two of his own in less than a minute, bringing the Kent State lead to 57-41.

Junior forward Justin Greene, who scored 12 points, sealed the 66-53 victory with two points from the foul line.

“This game was very important,” Holt said. “We haven’t been a good road team so far this year. Coming into this game (2-6 on the road), we just wanted to compete for 40 minutes.”

The Flashes knew playing MAC West leader Ball State would be difficult, and Ford said he’s proud of the team for overcoming such a huge challenge.

Coming into the game in a three-way tie for first in the MAC East, the Flashes have increased their shot at a solo championship.

“It was a huge game because the league is so log-jammed on our side,” Ford said. “But we feel pretty good that we did so well against such a good team. That was one of our best games of the year.”

The Flashes continue MAC action on Sunday at 2 p.m. against Toledo at the M.A.C. Center.

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].