KENT, OHIO – The Kent State Golden Flashes defeated the Ohio University Bobcats 89-82 Saturday night at the MAC Center in a battle of Mid-American Conference Eastern Division heavyweights.
With the victory, Kent State (12-5, 3-1 MAC) remained tied atop the Eastern Division with Bowling Green, who defeated Eastern Michigan earlier in the day.
“It was a great effort by our guys tonight.” KSU head coach Rob Senderoff said. “I thought we guarded well, particularly in the second half. We moved the ball well and made free throws when we needed to. It was a great great win.”
Fifth-year senior Xavier Pollard led four KSU players in . . .
Ohio (10-6, 1-3 MAC) dropped consecutive games for the first time this season and has lost three of its first four in conference play.
“We just could not guard off the dribble (tonight)’ Ohio head man Saul Phillips said. “I have to find a solution for this group (of players).”
Like KSU, the Bobcats also had four players in double figures, led by juniors Kenny Kaminski and Antonio Campbell with 21 points apiece. Kaminski added eight rebounds and two assists, while Campbell amassed nine boards. Fifth-year senior Treg Setty and freshman Gavin Block each scored 11.
The first half was MAC basketball at its finest. Both teams shot the ball well, and the fast paced action that gave the crowd of 3,845 everything plenty of excitement.
The visitors from Athens came out scorching, hitting eight of their first 11 shots from the field while building as much as a nine-point lead (22-13) at the 11:02 mark on a layup by Campbell.
The key to the 'Cats fast start was Kaminski. The transfer from Michigan State scored 16 points in the opening 20 minutes, going five-of-eight from the field. His performance, in front of family and friends being from nearby Medina, Ohio, included three baskets from beyond the arc.
After KSU scored nine answered points to tie the game 22-22 on a three by Walker at the 8:55 mark, Ohio regained the lead and held it for the next five minutes. The Flashes eventually tied the score 34-34 on a three from the right arc by Pollard.
Ohio pushed the lead back out to three before the home team scored the last four points of the period on a putback by Hall and two free throws from senior Chris Ortiz to give them a 38-37 lead at halftime. It was KSU’s first lead since the 17:02 mark.
Both teams exchanged the lead at the start of the second half. There were also four ties before the Flashes took the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Walker that capped a 13-0 run and opened a 57-46 lead at the 11:49 mark.
The KSU lead grew to as many as 16 at the 6:02 mark on a left wing jumper by Thomas, who scored 13 points in the second half.
After being cold from the field for most of the second period, the Bobcats started to find their range. Over a four-minute span the 'Cats sliced away at their deficit, pulling to within four on two occasions. The last was 86-82 on a pair of free throws by Block.
In its last game Tuesday night, KSU almost let a 15-point lead against Miami get away before winning by eight, 76-68. Just like against MU, the Flashes made their foul shots going nine-of-ten in the final 45 seconds to seal the victory.
There were several keys to the game. First, was the defensive matchup on Kaminski. Senderoff used graduate student Galal Cancer to guard him. He scored five points early in the second half (his last points were a pair of free throws at the 18:00 mark). Second, Ohio’s Jarron Simmons, who came into the game averaging 15.1 ppg., scored just eight points. Third and finally, Ohio turned the ball over 15 times, resulting in 17 KSU points.
“I thought Kent State did an excellent job getting downhill on us in the second half.” Phillips said. “We didn’t guard the ball well and we still got it down to four despite struggling defensively.”
Among the statistics: Ohio out-rebounded the Flashes, 37-33. KSU had 13 second chance points and led in bench scoring, 30-16, thanks to the 16 points by Walker.
Both teams are back in action on Tuesday night, Kent State starts a two-game road swing at Ball State while Ohio hosts Western Michigan at the Convocation Center.