KENT: Every team is due for a clunker of a game every now and then.
The problem for the Golden Flashes is theirs Thursday night came at a really bad time — with the team already struggling offensively and at the start of a key four-game stretch that could make or break their season.
Based on just how ugly Kent State’s 75-59 Mid-American Conference loss to Western Michigan at the M.A.C. Center was, the season is tipping toward the latter.
“We were getting frustrated and not finishing on top of the rim,” Kent State coach Rob Senderoff said. “We were missing shots, some contested. But we’re pressing a little too much and just not doing the things we need to do to win.”
Kent State’s senior forward Darren Goodson and junior point guard Kris Brewer managed to reach double digits with 10 points each. But it wasn’t nearly enough to match the Broncos’ more balanced, and consistent, offensive attack. Senior center Shayne Whittington led four WMU players in double digits with 18 points, all coming after he picked up two fouls in the opening minutes of play.
“He was able to get a lot of easy baskets, we needed to do a better job with that,” said Senderoff, whose team lost to Western Michigan for the first time in Kent since 1996.
Whittington’s two early offensive charge fouls were about the only thing that went Kent State’s way. At the 11:19 mark, a technical foul was called on the Flashes’ Marquiez Lawrence with the freshman forward in the middle of shooting two free throws. After missing his first attempt, the refs momentarily stopped play when they learned his name hadn’t been entered into the scorebook before the game.
Lawrence backed off the foul line and Western Michigan’s David Brown was allowed to shoot two technical free throws before Lawrence was allowed to shoot his second one.
Free throws have been a sore subject for the Flashes (11-6, 2-2 MAC). KSU made just 4-of-10 free throws in the game.
It was another dismal first half for KSU, which trailed 34-24 at the break.
“I wouldn’t say we came out flat because we were up at the first media timeout,” Senderoff said. “But the second things go south … we’ve got to learn to fight through it.”
Unlike many games early in the season when KSU fell behind in the first half but rebounded with a hot second half, the Flashes all but rolled over Thursday.
Just minutes into the second half, the rout was on. The Broncos (9-7, 2-2) used a 14-0 run to take a 48-27 lead with 15:30 remaining, and pushed their lead to as many as 23 points, KSU’s largest deficit of the season.
“We can’t let one mistake snowball into three,” Senderoff said. “But right now, that’s what we’re doing. I have a lot of guys struggling right now, a lot of guys who aren’t seeing the ball go in the basket when they shoot. Then because of that, they’re letting one play become a frustration to the next play.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.