KENT, OHIO – The Kent State Golden Flashes defeated the Eastern Michigan Eagles 86-76 Monday night in the opening round game of the 2020 Mid-American Conference Tournament at the MAC Center.
With the victory, Kent State (20-12) advances to . . .
“At this time of the year, you find a way to move on and we played very, very well.” KSU head coach Rob Senderoff said. “We have beaten the top teams in the league and its hard to win these games.”
KSU had all five starters in double figures, led by Junior Danny Pippen. He scored 20 points, including a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. Senior Antonio Williams added 18 with four rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Anthony Roberts had 14 points with four points and six assists. Senior Troy Simons had 10 with four boards and there assists.
Eastern Michigan (16-16) ended its season losing four of its last six games. The Eagles have lost three of their last four MAC Tournament games.
Junior Noah Morgan led all scorers in the contest with a career-high 30 points, going 11-of-18 from the field.Six cme from three-point range.
Boubacar Toure, playing his final game for EMU had 14 points and 13 rebounds. Junior Ty Groce also scored 14, with three rebounds and five assists.
Monday's game was far different from when the last time these two met on February 18th in Ypsilanti, with the Eagles with a resounding 70-48 victory.
The Green and White scored the game’s first points -- a three pointer from the right arc by Thomas Binelli.
That, however, would be EMU’s only lead of the game as the Flashes scored the next 12 points and took complete control of the game.
Slowly and steadily, the Flashes built a 12-point lead on two occasions, the last being 39-27 at the 1;17 mark on a outback by Tervill Beck. They went into halftime with 39-28 advantage.
In the opening half, KSU shot 14-of-30 from the field and was a perfecr 7-of-7 from the foul line. It also had a decisive 21-12 rebound edge. EMU shot just 37.9 percent from the floor (11-of-29)
An Achilles heel for KSU during the season was slow starts at the start of the second half.
Not so on this night. The Flashes opened their largest lead of the game 52-38 when Roberts connected on a three from the right corner.
To their credit, EMU stayed in the game, but the closest they would get for the remainder of the contest was six points (71-65) when Morgan, who scored 25 points in the second half, connected with and and-one free throw at the 4:04 mark.
Morgan who has come off the bench all season had a previous career high with 23 points in a 60-58 home loss to Ohio. It was just the fourth time this season he has scored 20 or more points in a game
“We came out tonight and won against a really good team in EMU,” Senderoff said. “There are a lot of good teams in this league.”
KSU shot a sizzling 61.5 percent from the field in the second half and were 53.6 percent (30-of-56) for the game. The Flashes dominated the rebounds 41-27. They won the game despite turning the ball over 18 times. They also had 15 second chance points.
EMU shot just 41.2 percent from the floor (28-of-68) and was 8-of-34 from beyond the arc. They turned thee 18 turnovers into 18 points
As for their immediate future, the Flashes will be looking for some redemtpion. Back on February 4, the Cardinals came into Kent and took a 62-54 victory, catching the Flashes on an off night shooting (1-of-20 from the arc). Tajai Teague shined with 12 points and 17 rebounds, while Kyle Mallers had 16 points,