The Kent State men’s basketball team (3-1) gave Illinois (5-0) all it could handle Friday in the South Padre Invitational in South Padre, Island, Texas.
The only thing missing was the end results. The Golden Flashes suffered their first loss of the season Friday falling 69-63 in overtime at the South Padre Island Convention Center.
The Flashes were able to hold a slim lead for most of the contest, but were unable to contain Illinois center Mike Tisdale down the stretch. The 7-1, 235 pound sophomore finished the game with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Tisdale hit two free throws at the end of regulation then added the first six points in overtime to secure the win for the Fighting Illini.
"Tough loss for us, we really wore down in the second half,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said in an e-mail sent by Athletic Communications. “Their size around the basket prevented us from scoring the ball down in the post.”
Illinois big men: Tisdale and Mike Davis – 6-10, 210 pounds -- served as one of the first true test for a young, inexperienced frontcourt for the Flashes. Davis recorded a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
Senior Julian Sullinger provided his typical, work-man-like seven-point, nine rebound and three assists performance while junior center Brandon Parks did not fare particularly well. He struggled with foul trouble for most of the game limiting him to 18 minutes. He finished with two points and five rebounds.
Junior forward Anthony Simpson did give a boost off the KSU bench. All 10 of his points came after halftime. Simpson also had two blocked shots. Freshman Justin Greene was not at the game for personal reasons.
“When we couldn't score in the post it became a game when you have to shoot jump shots and drive the ball a bunch,” Ford said. “Down the stretch we just weren't able to make any tough shots from the perimeter and those were the only type of shots we could get."
Kent State got a lift in the first half from senior Al Fisher. The 2007 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year score 14 points during the first half, more than half of the team’s 27 first-half points. The score was tied at halftime.
Yet Fisher could not find his stroke in the second half, scoring only four more points in the contest. Junior guard Chris Singletary added 15 points.
The Flashes didn’t do themselves any favors from the free-throw line either as they went 9-16 from the stripe.
WOMEN’S TEAM SUFFERS FIRST LOSS TOO
The Kent State women’s basketball team (3-1) couldn’t stretch its season-opening, three-game winning streak any further Friday as Clemson (4-2) stopped the Golden Flashes 68-53 in the first game of the Husky Classic at Bank of America Arena in Seattle, Wash.
The Flashes led by as many as five points early in the second half, but were doomed by a cold spell throughout the rest of the second half. The Flashes turned the ball over 26 times in the game to just 12 assists.
“This was a good test for us to play a good ACC team like Clemson,” associate head coach Lori Bodnar said in a release. We had our moments in the first half, but need to work on offensive execution.”
Senior Anna Kowalska paced the Flashes with 18 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Rachel Bennett added six points, eight assists and four steals.