KENT: Kent State had five players finish in double figures (including 10 points from Mark Henniger at the much-maligned center position) in Kent State’s 87-72 victory over visiting Central Michigan, but the post game mood was a bit somber.
With 3:19 remaining in the game, senior guard Chris Evans went down near the top of the key by the Chippewas basket and stayed prone on the floor for several minutes in obvious pain, pounding his fists on the floor in agony.
“They think he sprained his ankle and he’ll come back tomorrow and get some treatment and we’ll know a little bit more,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said of Evans, whose 19 points led the Flashes. “I don’t think it’s something that’s going to prohibit him from playing, but I don’t want to speak out of turn because I’m not 100 percent sure.”
Evans, who told Senderoff he twisted the ankle when he came down under the basket awkwardly on teammate Bryson Pope's foot, was being helped up and led off the floor, he was not able to put any weight on his right foot. After the buzzer sounded, Evans did not participate in post-game handshake line, prompting several of Central Michigan’s players and coaches to come over to him on the Flashes bench to wish him well.
The potential long-term impact that Evan’s injury could have overshadowed an otherwise stellar night for the Golden Flashes, who started out hot from 3-point range in the first half and then managed to clamp down on defense and fend off one Chippewas rally after another in the second half.
With the victory, Kent State improved to 13-11 overall, 4-6 in the Mid-American Conference. Central Michigan fell to 9-14, 2-8 and 1-8 on the road.
Junior guard Darren Goodson oozed energy and confidence from the get go, fueling the Flashes early on. The junior forward had a team-high 12 of his 18 points in the first half, a strong span that also included four of his six rebounds and three of five assists in his first 17 minutes of play.
“I’m tired of losing,” said Goodson, who is averaging 15 points and shooting 56 percent from the field over the last five games. “So I thought if I could come out and be as energetic as K.B. (point guard Kris Brewer, who had 16 points) is after a turnover, I thought it would help the team.”
In the first half, a 3-point shooting contest broke out from the moment the ball was tipped off at the M.A.C. Center, as the Flashes and Chippewas combined for 14 3’s. Kent State shot a stunning 60 percent from 3-point range, sinking 9-of-15 attempts with four different players hitting two a piece to help the Flashes to a 44-40 halftime advantage.
But for as good as the Flashes were offensively, the four-point difference at halftime indicated their need to step up the defensive intensity.
With 11:22 to go in the game, CMU had cut KSU’s 12-point lead to five, 60-55. But after quick reminder during a timeout to focus on defense and just like that, the lead was back up to a dozen thanks to an 8-1 run punctuated by an Evans dunk.
The Chippewas got to within five points again after another mini rally, but once again the Flashes defense staved them off and they went on to build another comfortable lead.