Back-and-forth battle with Cleveland State ends in men’s basketball seventh-straight victory


Brady Hamilton

Guard Sincere Carry celebrates Kent State’s 67-58 win over Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon.

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

The Kent State men’s basketball team has now won seven consecutive games after defeating Cleveland State 67-58 Saturday.

“This was a game that we really needed,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “We needed to get ourselves back in the win column, and I thought we competed well against a team that has had success lately.”

The Vikings had won six of their last seven games.

KSU improves to 7-3 on the season and is now 2-3 on the road. Cleveland State falls to 6-5 – this was only its second loss at home.

The Flashes started the game by scoring eight points off turnovers and took an 11-1 lead.

“We were committing a lot of fouls on defense early on that was frustrating to see,” Senderoff said. “But we were able to make stops when we needed to throughout the game.”

Guard Jalen Sullinger puts a shot up in Kent State’s 67-58 win over Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon. (Brady Hamilton )

Redshirt senior forward Miryne Thomas converted on four consecutive 3-pointers to help give the Flashes a 23-17 lead with 7:15 remaining in the first half.

The Flashes scored 10 points in the paint against CSU at the break. Against No. 18 Gonzaga Monday, they had scored 22 points. “They’re a big and physical team and forced us to find other ways to score,” Senderoff said.

Coming into the game, the Vikings were ranked 48th nationally in 3-point defense, shooting 28.5%. In the first half, Kent State converted on 6-of-13 shots from behind the arc.

The Flashes went into halftime leading 32-27 – this was the fourth time this season that KSU held a single digit lead after 20 minutes.

Twelve of the Viking’s 27 points came from the free throw line, as they attempted a total of 16. Kent State did not attempt one free throw.

“We have to find ways to get to the line more consistently,” Senderoff said.

The second half featured both teams trading baskets, with KSU leading 43-40 with 10:08 remaining.

Redshirt senior guard Malique Jacobs converted the Flashes’ first free throw of the game, giving his team a 46-40 lead.

With 3:37 remaining in the game, KSU led 57-48.

Guard Malique Jacobs looks for a foul call but doesn’t get one in Kent State’s 67-58 win over Cleveland State on Saturday afternoon. (Brady Hamilton )

Redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry scored four consecutive points to give the Flashes a 63-52 lead with 1:22 left in the game.

Jacobs led the team in scoring for the second time this season with 18 points and recorded seven rebounds.

Carry, who is first on KSU in overall scoring this season, added another 16 points in his tenth double-digit scoring game. He has led the team in scoring in five game this year.

Thomas, who fouled out of the game with 49 seconds remaining, finished with 12 points and was 4-of-6 from behind the arc.

Senior Deante Johnson led the Vikings with a season-high 20 points, nine rebounds and was 6-of-8 from the field.

Kent State attempted 11 free throws, converting on seven. Cleveland State was 19-of-29.

Back at the M.A.C.C.

KSU now has one week off before its matchup with Division II Concord (6-3), and Senderoff said his team needs to take advantage of these days off.

“We’ve been on the road a lot, so we need to get some rest,” he said. “It is also finals week, so we need to make sure that we take care of business in the classroom. On the court, we need to make sure that we play really hard and do it without fouling as best we can – but more importantly, it’s just to continue to play for each other.”

Senderoff said he loves seeing the way his team competes every game.

“The best part about our team is that the guys don’t care about stats,” he said. “They just care about playing hard, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”

The Flashes and Mountain Lions tipoff at 5 p.m. Dec. 18. Concord comes into the game on a five-game winning streak.

On the season, Concord’s opponents have averaged 77 points per game. KSU has scored 77 or more points five times.

CU has five players averaging nine or more points per game. KSU has three.

“We have our next game after finals, so I’m worried about that,” Senderoff said. “But I’m looking forward to when we play at home because our students have always been great, and we’d love for them to jump on board.”

Jacob Shondel is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]