Slow start doesn’t halt win streak

Cody Erbacher

Men’s basketball defeats Ball State in M.A.C. Center

A slow start accompanied with a tough Mid-American Conference West team couldn’t prevent the Kent State men’s basketball team’s eighth straight win last night at the M.A.C. Center.

Kent State (18-7, 9-2 MAC) completed its sweep of the MAC West and remains atop the conference with a 76-42 victory against Ball State (12-11, 6-5 MAC) yesterday.

The game started just like cars moved on the snow-covered streets yesterday — slow. Ball State took a 2-0 lead over Kent State in the first 4:02 of regulation.

“At the first media time-out I was trying to decide if we should kick a field goal,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “We were bad offensively, (Ball State) forced us to miss a lot of shots.”

The Flashes went 0-for-7 from the field during that period.

Sophomore forward Justin Greene scored the first points for Kent State with a mid-range hook shot to tie the game, which was followed by back-to-back 3-pointers by senior guard Chris Singletary then senior forward Anthony Simpson to the put the Flashes up 8-2.

“Early on we couldn’t find our rhythm on the offensive end, so we maintained our defense,” said freshman guard Randal Holt, who led Kent State’s first-half offense with 10 points.

The Cardinals held Holt scoreless in the second half.

Junior forward Malik Perry converted one free-throw attempt, which was followed by four more points from the Kent State offense.

With six minutes left in the first half, Kent State increased its lead to 17-7 after a layup from Greene.

Back-to-back 3-pointers and a layup from the Cardinals’ offense brought Ball State within two points at 17-15.

The score remained in a bit of a stalemate until Holt scored five straight points and gave Kent State a 27-21 lead.

“Going into every game I feel like I’m going to have a big game,” said Holt, who recorded his fourth double-digit scoring game this season. “I come in, I play with a lot of confidence. If the team wants to play off of me then I just shoot the ball and knock it down.”

Holt continued to help the Flashes with six assists, including one that weaved between three Ball State defenders and provided Simpson with an easy layup to give the Flashes a 29-21 lead.

Senior guard Brandon Parks hit two foul shots to increase Kent State’s lead to 31-21. Neither team would score in the last minute of the first half.

Kent State had a 16-4 run coming out of halftime, which was capped by a Greene hook shot off the glass, putting the Flashes up 47-25.

The Flashes’ biggest lead came with 58 seconds left in regulation when sophomore forward Alex Grimsley hit a 3-pointer to give Kent State a 76-38 lead.

The victory marked the first time in league history that a team has swept the opposite division in two consecutive years.

“(Winning out against the West) can give us some confidence and it can show everybody that if we bring it every night, we can win the MAC,” Parks said.

Contact sports reporter Cody Erbacher at [email protected].