KENT, OHIO – Junior Jaylin Walker had 26 points, while junior Adonis De La Rosa added career bests in points (24) and rebounds (14) as the Kent State Golden Flashes led from wire in an 85-69 win over Central Michigan Saturday at the MAC Center.
With the victory, Kent State (7-8) ended a two-game losing streak, squaring its Mid-American Conference Record at 1-1.
“This was our best . . .
KSU had four players in double figures. Senior Kevin Zabo notched 17 points with four assists, while junior Jalen Avery added 12 with four rebounds, three helpers and two steals.
“A lot of things went wrong for us in the first halkf” CMU head man Keno Davis said. “Kent State made a lot of shots from 3-point range. That spread us out (defensively). From our end, we weren’t making any shots and (we were) not getting to the free throw line.”
Senior Luke Meyer led CMU with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Josh Kozinski added 12, going 4-of-10 from three-point range, while sophomore Kevin McKay came off the bench to score 11.
Kent State broke the game open midway through the opening half with a 12-4 run to take a 17-7 lead at the 12:30 mark on a putback by De La Rosa. He managed 13 points in the first 20 minutes, as well as seven rebounds.
Central closed to within seven on two occasions, the last being 32-25 on a slam dunk by McKay. KSU, however, finished the half with a 14-5 spurt, closing with De La Rosa’s dunk at the buzzer to give the Flashes their largest lead of the period, 46-30.
The fuel for the lead was shooting 60 percent (18-of-30) from the field, including 8-of-16 from three point range. KSU also held a 17-10 rebounding edge.
Kent State started the second period with a cold spell and the Chippewas took advantage. They cut their deficit in half to make it 58-50 after Meyer hit a three from the left arc with 10:10 remaining.
When asked about that spurt, Davis said “I thought when we cut it to eight a couple of times, we needed one more shot, we needed one more play to put some pressure on Kent State to have a chance, and we could not cut into that lead.”
Senderhoff also noted the importamce of weathering CMU’s rallies. “That was the key to the game -- us not panicking and doing what we had done to get the lead. Getting good shots, breaking their press.”
Kent State righted the ship with a 9-2 spurt to push the lead back out to 15 (67-52) on a jumper by Walker.
Fully healthy since breaking his foot almost two seasons ago, Walker has been KSU’s leading scorer so far this season. He has hit for double figures in all but one game, scoring just seven in a loss at Wright State.
In addition, Walker scored over 20 points for the third consecutive game and for the fifth time this season.
In their opening game on Tuesday night, the Chippewas held Ohio to just 50 points and 37.7 percent shooting from the field. At Kent State, they gave up 85 points (second most so far this season), were outrebounded 37-32 and gave up almost 50 percent shooting.
“That’s basketball,” Davis observed.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday with Kent State heading to Miami to face the Redhawks. Central Michigan returns home to battle Eastern Michigan.