Defensive miscues doom Flashes against Xavier

Jonas Fortune

Some may argue that Kent State men’s basketball team lost to Xavier 78-65 Friday at the Chicago Invitational Challenge at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill. because of the intimidation of playing a bigger school.

But Kent State coach Jim Christian doesn’t want to waste his time with such claims.

“We lost tonight because we didn’t execute,” Christian said. “If we are going to play good basketball teams and not execute, (We’re) going to lose, I don’t care what name is on the shirt. That’s the bottom line. I would never ever believe that, I don’t want to hear it. If you do what you’re supposed to do, then you have a chance to win games – regardless of who you play. If you don’t, it doesn’t make a difference you’re not going to win them.”

In the first half, The Flashes had little problem with execution. They connected on 4-9 from 3-point range and used tenacious defense to slow Xavier’s low post threats, Derrick Brown and Josh Duncan. At one point Kent State led by six, but by halftime Xavier had reclaimed the lead, 31-30.

Xavier opened the second half with a 13-4 run marred by blown defensive coverage and easy dunks, a problem that seemed to be recurring for the Flashes throughout the second half.

“They weren’t scoring inside on post ups, they were scoring on lay ups,” Christian said. “And it wasn’t like a post, it was a slip to the rim or simple things that we need to guard that we knew coming into the game that we needed to guard and we didn’t do it. I t was just being solid defensively.”

The defensive miscues allowed Xavier’s forwards to make up for their lackluster first half. Brown finished the game with a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. All of his points were in the second half. Duncan added to his 10 first-half points to finish with 20 points, five assist and six rebounds. Xavier Senior guard Drew Lavender had 16 points.

Offensively, the Flashes were able to make second-half runs against Xavier that brought them on the verge of a comeback – the Flashes trailed 66-60 with just four minutes left in the game – but the defensive miscues were just too much to overcome.

“We did make a couple runs out of it, then we let them score easy baskets,” Christian said. “Every time we got back, we let them get an easy basket. You can’t do that when you’re coming back against good basketball teams.

Kent State senior Mike Scott paced the Flashes with 20 points and 8 rebounds while junior Al Fisher chipped in 16 points and five assist.

The Flashes will play Illinois State Saturday at 6 p.m. in the consolation game of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.

Contact Sports Editor Jonas Fortune at [email protected].