‘I wasn’t going to lose tonight’: Carry’s season-high pushes men’s basketball past school down the road


Kait Murray

Redshirt senior guard Sincere Carry scores a point against the Akron Zips while Trendon Hankerson attempts to block him.

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

With four seconds left in regulation, the Kent State men’s basketball team led 72-69.

Akron guard Xavier Castaneda attempted a game-tying 3-pointer when he was fouled by redshirt senior Malique Jacobs – this was his fifth foul.

Castaneda stepped to the line while the sold-out crowd inside the M.A.C.C. Friday made as much noise as possible.

Even with 6,327 fans screaming, Castaneda converted on all three foul shots, tying the game 72-72.

Redshirt senior Sincere Carry got the inbound pass but couldn’t get a shot before the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

“This was as good a game as I’ve ever been a part of,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “For us to be able to win the game without Malique, I think that really helps us moving forward because we haven’t had a ton of games where he’s fouled out.”

The 89-84 overtime victory extends the KSU home winning streak to 22 games – the second-best in NCAA men’s basketball right now.

Kent State student section cheers for the men’s basketball team in the home game against Akron University on March 3, 2023. (Kait Murray)

The Flashes improve to 25-6 on the season, remain undefeated at home and finish second in the Mid-American Conference at 15-3.

The last time KSU won 25 regular season games and went undefeated at home was the 2007-08 season.

“I wanted to win, and I wasn’t going to lose tonight,” Carry said. “Especially me being a senior and my other two seniors, and we didn’t care about how. We just wanted to win.”

The Zips fall to 22-10 on the season and finish third in the conference at 13-5. Akron had previously defeated KSU 67-55 this season.

KSU’s defense started the game forcing two turnovers, as redshirt senior Sincere Carry scored the first nine points en route to a season-high 35 points.

At halftime, the Flashes led 36-32.

At the break, the KSU defense had forced seven turnovers, which led to eight points. Sixteen of the 36 points came inside the paint.

The Zips forced nine turnovers and added 18 points inside. Kent State shot 53.8% – Akron shot 46.7%.

Akron’s MAC scoring-leader junior guard Xavier Castaneda, who averages 21.4 points a game, shot 0-of-4 with all shots coming from behind the arc.

“It was really our big men tonight,” Jacobs said. “When we first played him, Castaneda had to hit some tough shots, but he hit a lot of open shots when we doubled out of the post, and we didn’t have to do that tonight because of the bigs.”

The Zips opened the second half on a 16-12 scoring run, as Castaneda converted his first basket, tying the game for the first time since the start at 48-48 with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

Over the next two minutes, KSU senior forward Chris Payton converted on four consecutive baskets to give the Flashes a 59-55 lead.

Kent State senior forward Chris Payton and Akron junior Enrique Freeman battle to guard each other in the game on March 3, 2023. (Kait Murray)

“Payton is a guy that is all about the next play; he might do something bad, but he goes to the next play, and he gets his confidence back,” Jacobs said. “You even seen it was overtime like it’s a close game, and you’re dancing after getting and-1’s.”

Kent State converted on two 3-pointers and forced three turnovers, giving the team a 69-63 lead with four minutes remaining in the game.

After a 6-0 Akron scoring run, the game was tied 69-69 with 2:20 remaining.

Carry would give KSU the lead 72-69 after converting an and-1.

After a technical foul was given to Senderoff, the Zips started overtime leading 74-72 – their first lead of the game.

The Flashes went on a 10-6 scoring run as Payton scored six points. The score was now 82-78.

Both teams battled back and forth over the final two minutes. Carry totaled 11 points in overtime.

Final numbers

  • Payton finished with a season-high 22 points, seven rebounds and two blocks
  • Jacobs finished with 11 points, six rebounds and was 4-of-8 from the field
  • Carry added 35 points, four rebounds and two steals

“Sincere has been an unbelievable player his entire career,” Senderoff said. “His two years here at Kent have been amongst, if not the best of any two-year player to have played here. I’m happy for him that we’re able to go out with a win, and he playing so well.

“I’m sure it means a lot to him, and if it doesn’t today, it will 20 years from now.”

Kent Sate seniors Miryne Thomas (left), Sincere Carry (middle) and Malique Jacobs observe the gifts they received at their senior night game on March 3, 2023. (Kait Murray)

As a team, the Flashes shot 51.7% from the field and converted 22-of-25 free throws.

Akron shot 43.9% for the game while making 26 free throws.

Castaneda finished with 13 points, shooting 2-of-13 from the field and 1-of-10 from behind the arc.

Next stop: Cleveland 

Friday’s victory gives the Flashes the second seed in the MAC tournament, which begins Thursday.

KSU will take on Northern Illinois at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

The Huskies defeated Kent State 86-76 on Jan. 24.

“We have to turn the page, and that’s always difficult for teams after beating your rival,” Senderoff said. “We’re going to make sure we focus on next Thursday, and I talked about it a little bit in the locker room that our preparation starts with how we handle tonight.”

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