Strong rally sputters, men’s basketball loses to Ohio State

Kent State trailed by 17 against No. 10 Ohio State with 17:16 left to play in the game.

Then senior forward Danny Pippen hit a three-point shot to end Kent State’s 22-minute 3-point drought and ignite a rapid scoring run.

The Flashes outscored Ohio State 25-8 over the next six minutes to fight back and tie the score, 48-48.

A few possessions later, sophomore guard Anthony Roberts took an open three that would have put Kent State ahead for the first time in the second half, but his shot did not fall.

Ohio State sophomore forward Luther Muhammad was fouled on a 3-pointer by Kent State senior guard Troy Simons and made all three of his free throws.

That six-point swing proved to be the beginning of the end for the Flashes, as the game was never that close again en route to a 71-52 Kent State loss Monday at St. John arena.

“It was a great look by Anthony Roberts and I think had that gone in this one would have gone down to the wire,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “I could be wrong in saying that obviously, but that is how I felt.”

That comeback had been largely fueled by Pippen, who finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, but he was not satisfied with just his own statistics.

“I’m not even worried about the type of game I had because we lost,” he said. “My points don’t mean anything, my rebounds my blocks don’t mean nothing to me, because we took an L.” 

Senior guard Antonio Williams was also instrumental in the run and was disappointed the team could not finish it out.

“I think my team fought hard,” Williams said. “We played good down the stretch, we just didn’t hit some shots we were supposed to and didn’t finish the way we were supposed to.”

Williams had 17 points on the night and hit both of his three-point attempt during the run.

“I’ve been working on [my three-point shooting] every morning with my coaches so I felt comfortable,” Williams said. “So, when I catch it I’m just like ‘I’m gonna shoot it if they aren’t on me,’ and I made them.’”

Kent State went through a 22 minute 25 second drought from three, with Roberts and Simons, two of the Flashes’ leading three-point shooters this season, combining to shoot 1-12 from 3-point range.

When asked how to overcome shooting that poorly Senderoff simply said, “You don’t.”

“We either have to shoot the ball better than that, or be better on the offensive glass,” he said.

Kent State struggled with rebounding all night, another area in which they had excelled previously this season.

Ohio State out-rebounded Kent State 41-27 and Senderoff said the Buckeyes were stronger on the boards.

“Whoever their strength coach is deserves a raise,” he said. “These guys are ridiculously physical and tough.”

Senior forward Philip Whittington is expected to be a dominant rebounder for Kent State, but he got in foul trouble early.

Whittington would eventually foul out with about six minutes left in the game, and the team missed his presence according to Pippen. 

“We needed Phil (Whittington),” Pippen said. “I’m not even mad at him because they called some cheap fouls on him.”

Senderoff blamed the loss on the overall lack of consistency from his team.

“We needed to move the ball and execute for 40 minutes,” he said. “We did a good job for about 12 or 13 minutes. We need to do better for us to have a chance to win these games.”

The Flashes will look to bounce back on Saturday at home against Stetson. 

Contact Owen MacMillan at [email protected]