Kent State completed its 11-year BracketBusters run with a 70-63 victory over host Loyola-Chicago on Saturday afternoon.
Senior guard Chris Evans led four Golden Flashes in double-figure scoring with 16 points. Sophomore point guard Kris Brewer followed with 14 points, senior guard Randal Holt added 13 and junior forward Darren Goodson had 12.
The Flashes (15-12) improved to 7-4 in BracketBusters play and have some momentum heading into the final two weeks of the Mid-American Conference regular season.
Kent State got an early spark from Goodson, who led the Flashes with 10 first-half points.
KSU led 38-33 at halftime.
About 30 seconds before the halftime buzzer sounded, Evans put an exclamation point on an offensive spurt with a rousing tomahawk dunk then blocked a layup by Loyola sophomore guard Christian Thomas at the other end.
“That was a great way to finish the first half,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. “I think those last five minutes spearheaded us to the win.”
A week of rest and internal focus helped the Flashes overcome a slow start Saturday.
“During our week off, we had been talking a lot about the importance of finishing halves,” Evans said. “We didn’t play well in the first 15 minutes, so we wanted to finish the first half on a good note. We really turned it up right there before the half.”
With senior center Ben Averkamp missing his sixth game with a concussion, the Ramblers (14-14) relied heavily on Thomas, who finished with a game-high 31 points.
Kent State (tied for fourth place in the MAC East Division standings at 5-7) returns to action Wednesday when it hosts third-place Buffalo at 7 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center.
“It was good to get a win, whether in or out of league play,” Senderoff said. “Now we have to come back on Wednesday. Hopefully, our fans will be there because it is a big game in the league standings.”