Kent State rains 3s, OU can’t keep up

Senior Antonio Williams (4) dribbles ball down the court during first half against Ohio University on Sat. Feb. 15, 2020. Kent State University won 87-72 against Ohio University.

As the Ohio University men’s basketball team tried desperately to overcome a 16-point deficit with just under a minute left to play, Kent State’s senior guard Antonio Williams had no intention of letting up.

After senior guard CJ Williamson stole a pass and flipped the ball to Williams on an open break, Williams went up for a punctuation dunk to put Kent State ahead 87-69.

As “Booman” Williams hung from the rim, he twisted around and grinned at Williamson before dropping down.

That dunk was the second in as many possessions for Williams, following a one hander off a lob from sophomore guard Anthony Roberts, to score the Flashes’ last points in a dominating 87-72 performance at home against Ohio (12-13, 4-8 Mid-American Conference).

Kent State’s win was fueled primarily by terrific 3-point shooting, spearheaded by a career-high performance from senior guard Troy Simons.

Simons scored 27 points off of 7-for-11 shooting from beyond the arc, the team as a whole was 17-for-31 from 3.

“It feels good to be back on track,” Simons said. “They just told me to hunt my shot basically and be patient on offense, let the ball come to [me] and that is what I was doing today.”

Simons cited fellow senior guard Williams’ drive and dish ability with his own success shooting the ball against the Bobcats.

“It’s all to Booman for real,” he said. “My point guards was just finding me when I was open. He was penetrating the gaps in the defense and I was moving off the ball hunting my shot, and he was finding me.”

Williams tied his career high of seven assists along with 16 points, all with only one turnover.

“Everybody just collapses once I’m driving the gaps,” Williams said. “So I was just making the right play finding the open guy, and it happened to be Troy a lot.”

Williams shot well from 3-point range himself, hitting three, but that was only good for third most on the team.

Sophomore guard Anthony Roberts shot 5-6 from 3 to put up 21 points, many of which came late to put the game fully out of reach for OU.

The Flashes had been on a two-game losing streak, but coming off a bye week coach Rob Senderoff stayed committed to running his offense.

“We’re not changing everything here in February,” Senderoff said. “We have our team, these are the guys. We have to make sure we try to play together, have great ball movement and compete when things aren’t going well for us.”

Things not going well was not too much of a concern in the second half, as a 10-0 run in the second half helped the Flashes blow the game open.

That 10-point run was led by senior guard Williamson, who scored seven of those 10 points.

Williamson came off the bench and tied his season high of 14 points while playing tight defense on one of the MAC’s best guards in Jason Preston.

Preston was mostly defended by Williamson and Williams, and though he did put up 20 points and 12 assists, Senderoff did not think they were given up easily.

“[Preston] is an elite guard,” Senderoff said. “I did think we did a pretty good job against him, in terms of making it difficult for him, creating some turnovers. As good as his stat line is, I thought we did a good job defending him.”

Kent State’s defense as a whole was stingy, coming away with three blocks and nine steals.

The Flashes have not lost a game this season when getting at least eight steals.

“I know the numbers defensively [show] they scored a lot of points, but we did create 18 turnovers and we had nine steals,” Senderoff said. “That number [steals] is a big number for us. We did a lot of the things we know we need to do to win, now we need to bottle it up and take it on the road Tuesday.”

This win snaps a two-game losing streak and moves Kent State to 17-8 on the season and 7-5 in the MAC, keeping the Flashes alive in the hunt for the MAC East crown.

Kent State is 2.5 games back from Bowling Green State University, with the Falcons on 10-2 run since losing the MAC opener to Kent State in a blowout.

The Flashes travel to Ypsilanti, Michigan on Tuesday to face an Eastern Michigan team that is only 3-8 in conference, but finds itself on a two-game win streak.

Owen MacMillan is an assigning editor. Contact him at [email protected].