Strong second half propels men’s basketball against Bowling Green


Abigail Griffith

Kent State players dive for Bowling Green senior Gabe O’Neal to gain possession of the ball during the game on Feb. 7, 2023.

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

Coming into the game, the Kent State men’s basketball team was 2-1 when playing after a loss.

Tuesday, in the M.A.C. center, the Flashes scored their fourth most points this season when they defeated Bowling Green 87-64.

“We didn’t play Kent State basketball against Akron,” redshirt senior guard Malique Jacobs said. “We knew if we could get back to that and share the ball more, then we would be back to Kent State basketball.”

Kent State’s lone loss when coming off a loss was to No. 2 Houston (49-44).

The Flashes recorded seven assists in the 67-55 loss to the Zips. On Tuesday, they totaled 17 against the Falcons. “That’s when we’re playing at our best,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “It’s when our defense creates offense, and tonight we did a great job, and that’s our formula for success.”

Kent State forced 17 turnovers in the game and scored 18 points off the turnovers.

KSU improved to 19-5 overall and is now tied for first at 9-2 in the Mid-American conference with Akron and Toledo.

The Falcons (10-14) are fifth in the MAC at 4-7.

Redshirt junior guard Giovanni Santiago did not play after sustaining a hand injury against Akron, and Senderoff said he would be “surprised” if he could come back this season.

“I would find it highly unlikely that he plays again this year,” he said. “So we have to make adjustments as a team and sort of pick up the slack for the things that he has done really well.”

Both teams were off to a slow start, shooting a combined 5-of-15 from the field over the game’s first five minutes. Kent State led 10-5.

Kent State redshirt sophomore VonCameron Davis works his way toward the net during the game against Bowling Green on Feb. 7, 2023. (Abigail Griffith)

Over the next three minutes, the Flashes found their offense, scoring eight unanswered points and building an 18-5 lead.

After being held scoreless for over six minutes, the Falcons converted a layup ending the drought, which led to a 7-3 run.

The score was now 21-12 with eight minutes remaining in the half.

Bowling Green outscored the Flashes over the next four minutes, bringing the score to 27-22; during this time, the Falcons converted on two shots from behind the arc.

In the final four minutes of the first half, KSU went on a 7-3 scoring run. Redshirt sophomore forward VonCameron Davis led the way, scoring three points.

Kent State led 34-25 after 20 minutes.

Davis led the team with seven points. Redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry added six points.

KSU forced nine turnovers, scoring four points – BGSU forced 10 turnovers, scoring 10.

In the opening four minutes of the second half, the Flashes started 4-of-6 from the field, leading to a 44-32 lead.

Over the next three minutes, Kent State went on an 11-2 scoring run with five players scoring points.

The score was now 53-34.

After Bowling Green went on a 15-2 scoring run, the Flashes answered with a 12-2 run, shooting 4-of-4 from the field and converting two 3-pointers.

In the game’s final seven minutes, KSU outscored BGSU 20-13, shooting 7-of-9. Senior forward Chris Payton scored eight points.

After shooting 38.7% in the first half, Kent State shot 70.4% in the second half.

“I think a lot of that was creating turnovers, they played some zone, and we were able to get good looks,” Senderoff said. “But that’s not always going to happen, and we need to make sure we continue to defend at a high level.”

Jacobs led the Flashes with 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Sophomore center Cli’Ron Hornbeak recorded a career-high 14 points and six rebounds.

Cli’Ron Hornbeak on the court making plays. (Abigail Griffith)

“My guards did a good job finding me,” Hornbeak said. “They make plays for me, and I’ve just got to finish everything they give me.”

KSU had five players with 10 or more points.

“We really don’t care about the points, to be honest,” Jacobs said. “Because it’d be so spread out, and you look up, everybody has six points, and we have a 13-point lead.”

Back on the road

Kent State will head to Buffalo, N.Y., to take on Buffalo (12-12).

The Bulls are tied for third place in the MAC with Northern Illinois. They are 6-5 in the conference.

Tip-off is 6 p.m. Friday.

“We obviously have to watch the film on what we did well and what we need to improve upon,” Senderoff said. “But that’ll be good for us because every game left is against a team we’ve already played, so we’ll have to continue to get better.”

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