KENT, OHIO – Led by seniors Devereaux Manley, Kris Brewer, and Derek Jackson, the Kent State Golden Flashes defeated the Toledo Rockets 67-60 Wednesday night in a crucial Mid-American conference game at the MAC Center.
Kent State (13-5, 4-1 MAC) collected its fourth consecutive victory, equaling a pair of four-game skeins earlier this season. In addition, the Flashes stayed tied with Bowling Green atop the Eastern Division as the Falcons defeated Eastern Michigan Wednesday.
“Obviously it was a big win for us at home,” KSU head coach Rob Senderoff said. “We had to dig down deep to get this victory.”
Manley led all scorers in the contest with a season-high 21 points, as well as three rebounds an assist and a steal. Brewer added 18 with three helpers and a theft, while Jackson had 10 points with four rebounds.
Toledo (10-8, 2-3 MAC) suffered its second consecutive loss and is tied in the Western Division with Ball State, Central Michigan, and Northern Illinois.
“It was a really hard fought game tonight.” UT head man Tod Kowalczyk said. “We battled and did a lot of good things.”
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It was KSU’s biggest test of the MAC season so far while the Rockets were looking to rebound after losing at home Saturday to Western Michigan in overtime.
The start of the game belonged the men from the Glass City as they scored the first six points
The Flashes needed a spark and they called on Brewer, who came in and scored seven points of a 13-2 run to give KSU its first lead of the game, 13-8, at the 11:17 mark when sophomore Jimmy Hall scored over Boothe in front of the basket.
It would be one of the few bright spots offensively for Hall who was double-teamed most of the night and also found himself in foul trouble. Still, even though he scored just six points on the evening, he also had five rebounds, led the Flashes with four assists and had a pair of steals.
When asked about his super soph, Senderoff said “He showed he can do more than score. His presence opened up lanes to the basket.’
Both teams exchanged the lead. But with UT holding a 21-16 lead on a put-back basket by sophomore Zach Garber, KSU ended the opening period on an 11-3 run to go into halftime with a 27-24 lead.
The final four points of the half were scored by Manley on a pair of driving layups -- the last with 4.3 seconds remaining.
When asked about his performance, Manley said “I was trying to make plays. I was doing my part to get the team going.”
Neither team shot the ball well in the first half. KSU went 12-of-29 from the field (41.4) and was just 2-of-11 from three point range. The Rockets were just 11-of-27 from the floor (40.7%). UT held a 19-16 rebounding edge, but it turned the ball over 10 times.
The Rockets main man, senior Julius Brown, went pointless in the opening 20 minutes. The preseason MAC Co-Player of the Year missed both of his shots from the field and committed four turnovers. Part of that was a credit to Jackson, who is the Flashes main defender and draws the opposition’s top scorer.
Brown did hit a trey early in the second period, capping a 10-0 run as the Rockets regained the lead 33-29 at the 16:45 mark. He would finish the evening with nine points just the fourth time this season he failed to score in double digits.
UT’s lead fluctuated between three and five points for the next seven-plus minutes. Its last five-point advantage came at the 9:08 mark, 47-42, when Stuckey Mosley connected on a jumper from the baseline.
The Flashes took over from there, using a 14-4 spurt to take the lead for good, 56-51, when Manley connected on a three from the left arc.
The Rockets had a chance to close the margins, or possibly take the lead, in the closing moments. However, their inability to convert free throws proved to be their undoing. A pair of misses by Garber, a miss by Boothe, and a split pair by Drummond were big in the final outcome. For the evening, UT was just 5-of-13 from the stripe.
While KSU in the final stages went onto make six of eight as the closed the game out opening their largest lead of the game at seven points picking up the victory ending a two-game losing streak to UT registering their first home win over then since January, 2012.
“You make your fouls shots, you win the game. They did, and we didn’t” Kowalczyk said.
The Flashes shot 56 percent in the second half (14-of-25) and finished the game at 48.1 percent (26-of-54). They won the battle of the boards, 34-32, while UT went 15-of-27 from the floor (55.6%) and was also 26-of-54 over the 40 minutes.
Both teams get back into action on Saturday, Kent State travels to Ball State to face the Cardinals, while Toledo heads home to battle arch-rival Bowling Green.