Flashes End Bulls Reign as MAC Champs with Quarterfinal Win

By Published: 3/10/2017 8:14:15 AM Custom Tag

Courtesy: Kent State Athletics

CLEVELAND – The Kent State University men's basketball team (20-13) earned a hard fought victory to advance to the 2017 MAC Tournament semifinals, defeating the third-seeded Buffalo Bulls (17-15) Thursday, 68-65.

"Great win for us," said head coach Rob Senderoff. "A really tough hard-fought game. Buffalo was a two-time defending champion, they weren't going to go out without an incredible fighting, which they gave. But our guys just found a way to make enough plays on both ends of the floor, especially getting stops, and really proud of the effort from everybody on our roster because in the first half we had so much foul trouble we played literally everybody on the team. So great effort for us and now we have to get ourselves focused and ready for a really good Ohio team tomorrow."

Jimmy Hall led the Golden Flashes with 24 points on 6-for-13 shooting Thursday. In a game that featured 57 fouls, Hall earned 14 free throws and converted 12. He tallied eight rebounds and two blocks. He is now the first player in Kent State history to cross 1,600 points and 800 rebounds in a career. Deon Edwin recorded a double-double with a team-best 11 boards and 14 points.

The first half was razor thin until the final six minutes, when the Flashes took a double-digit advantage. Neither team took a significant lead in the first 14 minutes, with the largest held by Buffalo at 16-12 at the 11:01 mark. Buffalo could not build on it and the game would eventually tie at 23-23.

With six minutes remaining, Edwin scored on three straight trips down the floor to give his team a lead they would hold for the rest of the game. Buffalo went over five minutes without a field goal, allowing Kent State to take a double-digit lead at 37-27. Buffalo ended the half on a good note, hitting a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining to bring the score to 39-32 at the break.

The Flashes continued to roll at the start of the second half, leading by as much as 13 points at 47-34 with 16:47 remaining. While things looked bright for the Flashes, the game would become a defensive struggle from that point on. Kent State only recorded three field goals for the remainder of the game, but picked up repeated stops and scored at the foul line.

The shooting went dry abruptly when Kent State missed 12 straight shots over seven minutes. Although the offense struggled, the defense held on to maintain a seven point lead. Hall would take over from there, scoring on three straight possessions to put his team back up, 57-46, with 7:49 left.

Despite the short burst from Hall, the offense still had to scrape for every point. Buffalo quickly cut its deficit to five points, and at the 2:38 mark, made it a one-possession game at 65-62. From that point on, Kent State's defense locked in and prevented Buffalo from converting another field goal. Buffalo came up short on two quick shots with two minutes left, followed by a free throw from Adonis De La Rosa to create breathing room. On the ensuing possession, De La Rosa caused a turnover when he recorded his fourth charge.

Kent State did not score again until its final possession. Buffalo nailed three free throws down the stretch, putting the score at 66-65 with 42 seconds left. Kent State milked the clock, putting up a shot with 19 seconds left and earning an offensive rebound. With the shot clock off, Hall knocked down his last two free throws. Up three points with 12 seconds left, Kent State earned the last stop they needed without allowing an attempt to be fired off before the buzzer.

Overall, both teams shot 35.3 percent (18-for-51) from the floor and recorded 38 rebounds. Kent State went to the foul line 41 times, knocking down 29 attempts. Buffalo nailed 24 free throws, which proved to be the difference in the end. The turnover battle was won by Kent State, 12-13.

Jaylin Walker was the third double-digit scorer for Kent State, scoring 12 points to go with four boards. Desmond Ridenour came off the bench to nail two needed 3-pointers, finishing with six points and three rebounds. De La Rosa grabbed four boards and brought his charges taken total to 23 this season.

The Flashes move on to the semifinal round against second-seeded Ohio Friday at 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
Published: 3/10/2017 8:14:15 AM Custom Tag