Winning streak ends for men’s basketball

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

Kent State men’s basketball team ranks second in the Mid-American Conference in points allowed (62.4) and has yet to allow an opponent to score 80 or more points. 

That was until Tuesday, when Northern Illinois defeated KSU 86-76, ending its winning streak at 10 games.

Kent State falls to 16-4 overall and is now tied for first with Akron in the MAC at 6-1. 

The Huskies improve to 8-12 overall and are now tied for third in the conference with three other teams at 4-3. 

“They came in incredibly focused and made some big plays,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “We didn’t do the things you need to do to win; give them credit tonight.”

In the game’s opening six minutes, both teams traded baskets leading to an 11-9 lead for Kent State. 

Senior forward Chris Payton picked up where he left off against Ball State, shooting 6-of-6 from the field and converting on his first two shot attempts. 

Over the next three minutes, sophomore guard Jalen Sullinger made two shots from behind the arc, extending the KSU lead 17-11. 

Sullinger is the conference’s third-leading shooter in 3-point shooting percentage (46%).

In the final 10 minutes of the half, both teams went back-and-forth, and KSU went into halftime with a 40-37 lead. 

Coming into the game, Kent State was 13-0 when leading at halftime.

Sullinger led the Flashes with 11 points, while shooting 3-of-3 from behind the arc. Redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry added eight points and three assists. 

Both teams committed eight turnovers, and on the season, KSU averages 11.2 giveaways per game – NIU averages 15.3. 

Kent State was 4-of-7 from behind the arc; Northern Illinois shot 7-of-16 from behind the arc. 

The Huskies opened the second half with an 11-5 run for the team’s first lead since the 15-minute mark of the first half. 

NIU led 48-45 with 16 minutes left in the game. 

Over the next three minutes, the Flashes went on a 13-7 run to regain the lead 58-55; during this time, the team shot 4-of-4, including three from behind the arc. 

With eight minutes left in the game, Kent State had a 65-64 lead. 

“They made the shots, but that wasn’t the defensive effort that we’ve given in the past,” Senderoff said. “We certainly need to do a better job moving forward because we allowed them to get really good looks.”

Northern Illinois guard David Coit hit his fourth 3-pointer to give his team a 67-65 lead with six minutes remaining. 

Coit is the Huskies’ second-leading scorer this season (14.8). 

In the next 1:20, Sullinger scored four points for the Flashes, including his fourth shot from behind the arc to tie the game 69-69. 

In the final four minutes of the game, KSU was outscored 17-7. 

Coit led all players with 32 points and was 5-of-9 from behind the arc. The Huskies had five players score in double figures. 

Both teams made 28 field goals on the night, but NIU converted 13 shots from behind the arc, and KSU made eight. 

Sullinger finished the game with 17 points and four 3-pointers. Carry added 16 points and seven assists. The Flashes had five players score 10 or more points. 

After shooting 65 percent in the first half, the NIU defense held Kent State to 40 percent shooting in the second half. 

The Flashes 12 turnovers led to 21 Huskie points – KSU scored three points on 13 turnovers. 

On the season Kent State forces 16.9 turnovers per game and gives the ball away 11.8 times. 

Party at the M.A.C.C.  

Senderoff hopes to see the M.A.C. center packed when the team returns on Friday against Buffalo (10-10, 4-3) at 9 p.m. 

“It’s another nationally televised game, and I’m hoping we have tons of promotions and everything for the students,” he said. “So let it be a party in the M.A.C. center next Friday night. But these are the days as a student that you remember 20 years from now, and it’s part of what makes you care about your university.”

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