Flashes dominate Miami, avenge first MAC loss of the season

Senior guard Antonio “Booman” Williams (4) makes a layup to give Kent State a 29-24 lead against Miami University midway through the first half on Feb. 25, 2020. Kent State won 74-61 and Williams scored a game-high of 17 points.

Miami University men’s basketball team brought the ball up as the clock ran down to 16 seconds when Antonio “Booman” Williams of Kent State grabbed his second steal of the night.

The Flashes’ senior guard took the ball from Miami’s Nike Sibande and drove hard across the floor and into the paint.

As Miami defenders swarmed to stop him, Williams pulled the ball out and turned back toward the halfcourt line with a grin.

He had just ended the game.

The clock ran down to give Kent State a final score of 74-61 in a home win Tuesday night.

This dominant performance avenged Kent State’s first Mid-American Conference loss of the season, handed by Miami in mid-January.

Kent State came into the game after a double overtime loss to Buffalo, but the Flashes seemed unfazed, starting the game on an 11-0 run.

“I think the start to the game was really important for us,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “You never know the type of energy you are gonna come out with after that type of loss; it was a tough one. But we started the game in a great way.”

Solid 3-point shooting by Miami in the first half kept the RedHawks in the game, but Kent State kept pace and led at halftime.

“We were able to stick with our game plan and have a lead at halftime, and then extended it in the second half,” Senderoff said. 

Williams had five rebounds, two steals and a team-leading 17 points, compared with the five points and seven turnovers he had in the first game against Miami.

“The first time I knew I ain’t play well against them,” Williams said. “We watched film and coach got on me a lot about their point guard and how much better he played than me. So I just decided from the jump I wanted to come out and be different.”

Another major point of divergence from the first game against Miami was the Flashes’ ability to move the ball.

The team finished with 17 assists, its highest in MAC play this season. This led to lots of open shots and by extension a 57.4 field goal percentage for the Flashes.

“Everytime we get good ball movement we get good shots,” Williams said.

Tonight’s game saw the return of junior forward Danny Pippen, who missed the Buffalo game due to a back injury.

“I didn’t take a step back in my game; I played the same as always,” Pippen said.

The junior’s stats back up his observation as he finished with 16 points, four rebounds and an 83 shooting percentage.

Pippen helped Kent State open up the paint, and was one factor Senderoff cited to explain Kent State’s 42-12 outscoring of Miami in the paint.

Philip Whittington helped with the domination inside, pulling in five rebounds and shooting 6-7 for 12 points.

Whittington was setting picks to give his point guards lanes as well as open up scoring opportunities for himself.

“I think [Phil] and our guards have done a good job the last few games in particular at waiting for Phil to set a screen and then using those screens,” Senderoff said. “We have been emphasizing it all year and I think Phil has done a better job recently.”

Sophomore guard Anthony Roberts took advantage of the offense this created to score 13 points and get five assists, but he also gave up seven turnovers.

Senior guard Troy Simons is the leader in 3-points made in the MAC, but shot only 1-5 from range and scored seven points against Miami.

Instead, Simons dished out five assists, grabbed four rebounds and had two steals. He also did not have any fouls or turnovers.

This was an unusual game for Simons, but regardless he found ways to contribute.

“When teams look at Troy they look at him like he’s one-dimensional,” Williams said. “But we see him every day so we know he can do more than just shoot. He gave up a lightly contested 3 to give me a wide open 3 and I told him to shoot that. He was like ‘nah, you were open, I’m gonna make the right play.’”

Also finding ways to contribute was junior forward Tervell Beck, who started in place of Pippen against Miami and Buffalo.

Senderoff praised the versatility and energy that Beck brings to the floor.

“I think the one positive of Danny being hurt is that Tervell Beck has been able to play extended minutes and I think he has been productive,” he said. “I thought he really helped us; he impacted the game in a positive way and his energy was great.”

With only three conference games left before the MAC Tournament, the Flashes will need players like Beck to continue to step up.

Kent State will travel to Athens to play Ohio University on Friday, Feb. 28.

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