Kent State’s roller coaster 2013 season came to a halt early Sunday evening in Maryland, as the Golden Flashes fell to host Loyola 73-59 at Reitz Arena in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Post Season Tournament.
Playing once again with senior guard Chris Evans at less than 100 percent, the Flashes offense struggled. Evans, who led KSU in scoring all season at 16.7 points per game, wasn’t his usual explosive self while dealing with a nagging right ankle sprain.
Evans and fellow senior Randal Holt each finished with 13 points, as the Flashes (21-14) completed a season that was headed down the tubes at the halfway point by rebounding with a surprising 20-win campaign.
Sunday it appeared the Flashes might catch a break when Dylon Cormier, the Greyhounds’ top player who entered Sunday averaging 16.5 points per game, did not start due a coach’s decision. But the junior guard entered the game five minutes into the action and went on to score 18 points.
Still, it was Greyhounds senior Erik Etherly who gave the Flashes the most trouble, paving the way to send Loyola into the tournament’s quarterfinals. The 6-foot-7 post scored a game-high 27 points that included going 17-of-19 at the free-throw line while guard Robert Olson rounded out double-figure scorers with 10 points that all came in the second half.
The Flashes started the game off slow and fell behind as much as nine points early. But a 5-0 KSU run highlighted by a Kris Brewer 3-pointer put KSU right back in it at 17-13, with seven-plus minutes to go in the first half.
But another offensive lull ensued and Loyola’s lead nearly grew back to double digits before KSU used another mini run to pull to within three points, 24-21, punctuated by a Khaliq Spicer two-handed dunk with just over three minutes left before the break.
The Greyhounds responded with a run of their own over the final minutes of the first half to take a 31-25 halftime lead with each team shooting just 9-for-30 from field during the ugly start.
But the second half wasn’t much better to the Flashes, who were never really able to make a serious run to threaten the Greyhounds lead save for a Holt 3-pointer with five minutes to go that pulled KSU to within 10 points at 60-50.