Grit and Toughness Were Key In Another Close Win for the Flashes
Written by Dante Centofanti on February 7, 2019
KENT- 2019 has been a year of nail biters for the Kent State Men’s basketball team, and it would be no different Tuesday night at the M.A.C.C. as they went on to win 67-70. The flashes played very well in the first half, as they went into the locker room with 28-37 lead with all the signs pointing to a smooth game for Kent State.
In the second half however the red hawks of Miami (OH), led by head coach Jack Owens, would pump up the aggression defensively. Flashes head coach Rob Senderoff had to change it up a bit to get his squad up and running again in the first half. “We didn’t guard as well as we needed too, we were struggling with our rotations”, said Senderoff. Miami was able to cut their deficit going into the first half thanks to the scoring of freshman Nike Sibande, and the physical play of sophomore big man Bam Bowman.
The final eight minutes of this contest would go back and forth. Miami would have multiple questionable foul calls go in their favor, as well as taking advantage of certain mistakes Kent made late offensively.
After a shot clock violation with 43.5 seconds remaining the flashes needed to score. Dealing with a red hawks defensive scheme that was a fly in their soup all night, Jaylin Walker was able to drive to the basket; and get to the free throw line. He would make them both with Miami down 67-68. With 22 seconds left Nike Sibande would drive to the basket with time winding down, but would miss the bucket by inches. The Flashes would go on to win 70-67, with Jaylin Walker dropping 27 points, and guard Nike Sibande leading the scoring for Miami with 19. Jaylin Walker would suffer injuries, during a media timeout at the 3:39 mark Walker was down on the ground in pain. According to coach Senderoff, he suffered a bloodshot eye after being poked in the eye.
Everybody in the Mid American talks about the one two punch backcourt of the Kent State Golden Flashes with guards Jalen Avery and Jaylin Walker. But one thing I have noticed watching this team this season is the hustle and pure grit that the big men for this team show night in and night out. Akiean Frederick, the junior from Franklin Heights High School in Columbus, Ohio, showcases what it means to play with grit. “This year it became a big factor, my intentensity coming off the bench would like help the team, so everytime I come I have to bring it and bring it and bring it, just is what it is”. Coach Senderoff realizes he can plug in and out with his two big fellas, the same way he can with his smalls. “There are times that AK and Phil will play together, I do think we have versatility were we can play small, we can play big”.
The Golden Flashes will head to the JAR Friday night to play their archrival Akron on ESPN U at 9:00 p.m. With this win Kent State improves to 17-5 (6-3) in MAC play, while the red hawks fall to 12-11 (4-6).