In game of runs, Flashes run out of gas

Kent+States+Tervell+Beck+%2814%29+tries+to+block+Western+Michigan+guard+Michael+Flowers+as+he+cuts+to+the+basket+during+a+Jan.+18+game+in+Kalamazoo%2C+Michigan.

Kent State’s Tervell Beck (14) tries to block Western Michigan guard Michael Flowers as he cuts to the basket during a Jan. 18 game in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The Kent State men’s basketball team battled back and forth with Western Michigan University all game, but WMU caught all the momentum late.

For the final four minutes and 39 seconds of the game the Flashes were unable to hit a field goal, scoring only off of four free throws in that time.

WMU [9-9, 2-3 Mid-American Conference], took advantage to deal Kent State a 63-67 loss, snapping a three-game losing streak for the Broncos.

This is the second consecutive road loss for Kent State, both coming against MAC foes in the bottom half of the conference.

Their opponents in Miami University and WMU had gone into the matchups a combined 1-6 in MAC competition.

Kent State had gone into the second half down five, and the lead had extended to as much as eight before the Flashes went on a 19-2 run.

The game was defined by back and forth runs, but all the momentum seemed to shift to Western Michigan after a 3-pointer by Kent State senior forward Danny Pippen with 4:39 left to play.

That shot would prove to be the last FG made by the Flashes.

“It is gonna be hard to win that way,” assistant coach Aaron Fuss said in a postgame interview with Golden Flashes Radio. “They had a couple of offensive stretches where they scored four or five possessions in a row and we were countering those by turning the ball over and taking bad shots. We have to do a better job taking those runs away.”

The Kent State offense struggled all game to find any consistent scoring, not helped by the injury of sophomore guard Anthony Roberts.

Roberts still managed to lead the Flashes with 19 points and three 3- pointers, but he rolled his ankle after finding senior guard Antonio Williams to tie the game at 39.

Roberts left the court with 15:49 and slammed his hands on the bench.

Though he would return, Roberts would score only two more points for the rest of the game.

Part of the reason Roberts had been leaned upon so heavily to shoot from the outside was Kent State’s inability to get the ball in the paint.

“We have got to do a better job of attacking the rim,” Fuss said. “We have been trying to emphasize our physicality, because we have a tendency to go off one leg and fade away in the paint.”

Kent State’s go-to man on the inside is senior forward Philip Whittington, but he struggled to get anything going.

Whittington would finish the game with two points, both coming off of FTs as he was 0-3 from the field and grabbed five rebounds.

“We have got to make sure that Phil is(a piece of the offense,” Fuss said. “A lot of it is just having that mentality of being a little more physical, a little more aggressive whenever he is in the game.”

Pippen is also often looked to on the interior for the Flashes, but he did not score until six minutes into the second half, when freshman guard Giovanni Santiago found him for a dunk.

Despite his slow start, Pippen would finish with nine points, six rebounds and two blocks.

Antonio Williams was second in scoring for Kent State, scoring 15 and getting six rebounds, but struggled slightly with four turnovers.

Fellow senior guard Troy Simons is usually terrific from range, but could not seem to find his shot against Western Michigan, going 1-8 from 3-point range.

Simons still managed to finish the game with 12, good for third most on the team, and Fuss is not concerned about him going forward.

“Troy is the best shooter in the league from 3,” he said. “He is going to come back the next game and probably make seven 3s again.”

Kent State played solid defense, holding WMU to 41 percent from the field, but gave up 15 offensive rebounds which Western Michigan was able to turn into points.

A bright spot for the Flashes was the apparent progress of Gio Santiago who, while filling in for Roberts, lead the team with five assists and shot 1-1.

As Kent State tries to stop this losing skid from turning into a streak, they will look forward to playing at home, where the Flashes remain undefeated.

“We have got to follow this up with taking care of home court on Tuesday, and then we have to find a way to steal a road win in Buffalo on Friday.”

That next home game is against the 9-9 [2-3 MAC] Northern Illinois, as the Flashes try to stay above .500 in conference play. 

Contact Owen MacMillan at [email protected]