Comforts of home

Matt Goul

Jason Edwin shoots against a Marshall player under the basket during the game between Kent State and Marshall Saturday night at the M.A.C. Center. Edwin scored 17 points. Kent State won 75-66.

Credit: Matt Goul

Domination does not have to come with a blowout.

Kent State was held without a field goal for more than 10 minutes in the second half of its 75-66 win Saturday night over Marshall at the M.A.C. Center. Before the drought, which lasted 11:36, the Flashes held a 21-point lead and much doubt the Herd (3-13, 0-7 Mid-American Conference) could rally.

Jay Youngblood, while drawing a foul, slammed down a lob pass from Armon Gates. Gates followed with a 3-pointer on Kent State’s next possession, giving it a 61-40 lead with 13:01 left.

Kent State’s (13-6, 5-3 MAC) next field goal came with 1:25 left when Jason Edwin knocked down a 3 and was fouled. Marshall had been within 67-61 of Kent State’s lead before Edwin’s 3 but still gave much doubt it could rally.

“Even when we weren’t making shots in that one stretch, we took great shots,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “We took high-percentage shots. We moved the ball against the zone in the spots we wanted. We just didn’t knock them in. That stuff begins on the defensive end of the floor. That’s been our thing. When we don’t get our stops, we get a little tentative.”

While shots rattled in and out during the Flashes’ stretch without a field goal, Marshall conducted its own 3-point contest. Some shots hit, but many missed. Each time, Marshall players seemed to take another step back when they cast a shot.

The Herd hit 5-of-17 attempts from behind the 3-point arc. They were 3-of-11 in the final 8:43.

“We’ve shot the ball well, and we’ve shot some deeper shots,” Marshall coach Ron Jirsa said. “We kind of have to go with what works for us.”

Marshall guard Tre Whitted said playing from behind before taking deep 3s has become normal for the Herd. He can thank a four-minute stretch midway through the first half for setting up a familiar sequence.

Marshall was up 10-9 before Marcus Crenshaw’s 3 ended its last lead. Kent State soon ensued on a 13-point run, filled with more plays from Crenshaw — a steal, some assists and another jump shot — while Kent State’s lead grew to 13.

The Flashes jumped to a 20-point lead, which 6-foot-9 Nate Gerwig kept alive as he barreled toward the basket and put back a DeAndre Haynes miss before the half-time buzzer.

All but four of Kent State’s 25 field goals came on assists. Of Marshall’s 3-point shooting in the second half, only one 3 came in its run to close Kent State’s lead to single digits.

Jirsa, who was not concerned about his team’s shot selection, said Edwin’s late 3 put the game away.

Kent State missed 12 straight shots and committed three turnovers before his 3. Edwin scored 17 points.

“It was a stretch in the game where we were struggling for offense,” Edwin said. “They were in a really aggressive zone. I just wanted to hit a big basket.”

It was also the last basket Kent State made.

The Flashes returned to the free-throw line where they struggled less in the final minute than the preceding minutes or games.

Christian said he does not want his players worrying about any struggles in the losses. After rebounding from back-to-back road losses with three straight wins, he would rather them think of what changed from the losses to wins.

“I want them to focus on just continuing to get better and playing well,” Christian said. “Watch any college basketball game, and teams sometimes miss shots — sometimes go through lows where teams make a run. That’s basketball. We’re not going to play a perfect game here. It’s not going to happen. We have a young team who’s learning.”

Contact men’s basketball reporter Matt Goul at [email protected].