‘We got back to our identity’: Strong second half propels men’s basketball

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

The Kent State men’s basketball team has allowed the lowest field goal percentage (39.9%) in the Mid-American Conference this season.

Saturday, KSU’s defense limited Bowling Green to 37.1% shooting overall and 32.1% in the second half en route to a 79-69 victory.

“We got back to our identity as a team as we defended, rebounded and created turnovers,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “They did a great job of locking down everything that we needed to.”

This was the final road game of the regular season for Kent State (23-6), as the team improved to 13-3 in the conference. Toledo is first at 14-2.

Bowling Green’s losing streak is now nine games, as the team fell to 10-19 overall and is ninth in the MAC at 4-12.

“I’m really happy with how we played in the second half tonight,” Senderoff said. “I’m glad we’re able to rebound from Tuesday night.”

KSU is now 3-0 after a loss in conference games.

“We have a lot of high basketball character guys that want to win and care about the right stuff,” Senderoff said.

The Flashes started the game by shooting 4-of-12, as the Falcons built a 16-12 lead over the first eight minutes.

Over the next four minutes, Bowling Green converted on its first two 3-pointers en route to a 10-4 scoring run, bringing the score to 26-16.

After outscoring the Falcons by 10 points, KSU tied the game 30-30 with four minutes left in the first half. During this time, Kent State converted on three shots from behind the arc.

Bowling Green ended the half on a 12-7 scoring run, taking a 42-37 lead.

Redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry and sophomore center Cli’Ron Hornbeak each scored four points as the Flashes cut into the Bowling Green lead to start the second half. The score was now 48-46.

Sophomore guard Jalen Sullinger converted his second 3-pointer of the game as KSU outscored the Falcons 7-2. Kent State took a 53-50 lead with 12 minutes left in the game.

Both teams battled back-and-forth over the next eight minutes, leading to a 66-60 Kent State lead.

Carry scored seven consecutive points for the Flashes as they extended their lead to 73-63 with two minutes left in the game.

“He [Carry] made some huge plays down the stretch to give us some separation,” Senderoff said. “And that’s what great players do.”

KSU went 6-of-6 from the free throw line to close the game.

Malique Jacobs finished with a game-high 19 points, adding six rebounds and five assists.

Carry totaled 18 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

Sullinger led all players in 3-pointers made (3) and finished with 14 points. He is fifth in the MAC from three, shooting 44%.

Back in the M.A.C.C.

The Flashes will close their regular season with consecutive home games, with the first being Ohio (17-12).

The Bobcats are fifth in the MAC at 9-7.

Tip-off is 7 p.m. Tuesday.

“We’ve been really good at home this season,” Senderoff said. “Excited about the chance to finish it up here at home and have our fans get a chance to see these guys play in the M.A.C.C. this week and excited about what lies ahead for us.”

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