Defense shines as men’s basketball records 20th win

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

The Kent State men’s basketball team leads the Mid-American Conference in turnovers, forcing 11.3 turnovers per game.

Friday, when the Flashes traveled to Buffalo, they forced 21 turnovers and defeated the Bulls 72-65.

“This was a really good win for us,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “Very proud of us for finding a way to come together in the second half and get the win.”

Kent State improved to 20-5 on the season, remaining tied for first place at 10-2 in the MAC.

The Bulls fell to 12-13 overall and are fourth at 6-6 in the conference.

Buffalo started the game on a 12-3 scoring run, converting on two shots from behind the arc.

Despite shooting 3-of-11 from the field over the next four minutes, the Flashes outscored the Bulls 8-4. The score was now 16-11.

The Bulls converted on four of their next five shots, including one 3-pointer, building the Buffalo lead to 25-17.

Over the next four minutes, Kent State converted on two shots from behind the arc, going on an 8-2 scoring run, bringing the score to 27-25 Buffalo.

The Bulls shot 57.1% from the field to end the first half, leading 35-29. Kent State shot 32.3%.

“We kept getting stops, and our defense to end the half really picked up,” Senderoff said. “We were altering shots at the rim and taking the ball away.”

Coming into the game, UB was ninth in the MAC, shooting 37% from behind the arc; in the first half of Friday, they shot 62%.

Buffalo forward LaQuill Hardnett led all scorers with nine points, and redshirt senior forward Miryne Thomas led KSU with seven points and converted on two shots from behind the arc.

In the opening four minutes of the second half, the Flashes went on an 8-4 scoring run, cutting the Buffalo lead to 39-37.

Both teams battled back-and-forth over the next four minutes, and the score was now 49-43 UB.

After converting three consecutive 3-pointers, the Flashes took their first lead since the 18-minute mark in the first half, leading 52-49.

“When he [Thomas] plays well. It adds a huge dimension to our  team,” Senderoff said. “He obviously made some big shots but also guarded the ball well in the second half, doing a lot of really good things for us.”

With three minutes left in the game, Kent State led 61-57.

In the game’s final minutes, the Flashes shot 3-of-3 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line, ending the game on an 11-8 scoring run.

Game leaders

Thomas led all players with 19 points and was 4-of-7 from behind the arc.

Redshirt senior Sincere Carry totaled 15 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds – his first double-double this season.

“Sincere was great tonight for us,” Senderoff said. “He controlled the game from both sides of the court, especially in the final 10 minutes.”

Senior forward Chris Payton and sophomore center Cli’Ron Hornbeak combined for nine rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

“I thought both of those guys did a great job controlling the paint tonight,” Senderoff said. “Finishing a lot of plays around the basket and really impacted the game on both ends of the floor to help us win.”

After defeating the Bulls 74-68 on Jan. 27, the Flashes have completed a season sweep for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Next up

Kent State will head to Kalamazoo, MI., to take on Western Michigan (6-18).

The Broncos are in last place in the MAC. They are 2-9 in the conference.

Tip-off is 7 p.m. Tuesday.

In their previous matchup this season, the Flashes defeated WMU 80-72 on Jan. 3.

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