KENT: Junior forward Chris Evans appears to have found his calling with Kent State.
After flirting with being a starter earlier in the season, Evans’ best role seems to be as a sixth-man spark off the bench for the Golden Flashes (13-6, 3-3 in the Mid-American Conference).
Evans did it again Wednesday, scoring 14 points in Kent State’s 90-56 win over visiting Northern Illinois.
“At the beginning of the year, things came pretty easily for him,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said of the high-flying, 6-foot-7 Evans. “He had a lot of success early and what happens is that everybody starts to key on you. He struggled with that. Then I think he pressed and he got a little bit too consumed by how he was doing. As you do that, it’s harder and harder to play well.”
After a rough outing in the Flashes’ MAC opener at Buffalo, Evans took the advice of the coaching staff and switched his focus from his offense to his defense. That’s when a funny thing happened — his offense came back to life. In the past four games, Evans is averaging 13.8 points and 4.0 rebounds. He is shooting 67.6 percent from the field. Of his 16 rebounds, 10 have come on the offensive end, double that of any other Flashes player in that span.
“He came out against Bowling Green with the mind-set to just do everything he could to defend and rebound on the offensive end. He did those things and he had a good game. From that point on, that’s really what his focus has been on. Now, when you watch him come in the game, he immediately picks up full court and sits down [in a defensive stance]. Then, the minute a shot goes up, he’s trying to climb on the offensive glass. To me, that’s a real good formula for him to continue to be successful.”
Evans transferred to KSU after two seasons at Wabash Valley Community College, where he earned First-Team NJCAA Division I All-American honors by averaging 19.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He led Wabash to a 29-7 record and a regional title in the last season.
The Flashes made a season-best 11 3-pointers against Northern Illinois. … They also increased their win streak over the Huskies to 11 games and their win streak against MAC West Division opponents to 25 games. … The game also was just the first time since the 2000 season that KSU has scored 90-plus points twice in league play in a season. … Senior forward Justin Greene moved up to eighth place on the Kent State career scoring list with 1,346 points. … Freshman guard Kris Brewer led the Flashes with a career-high 15 points.
The Flashes have won three in a row, picking up their first road win Wednesday with a 67-61 victory at Western Michigan.
It was a hard-fought game that included 27 lead changes and nine ties as the Flashes (5-12, 4-3) went from shooting just 37 percent in the first half to 64 percent in the second to clinch the win in the final minute of play.
“We needed to find our rhythm,” said junior guard Tamzin Barroilhet, who led all scorers with a career-high 22 points. “We kind of lost track in the first half [before] we let things come to us instead of forcing shots in the second half. And that’s when shots started to sink.”
Just one victory shy of reaching the 600-win mark in program history, Kent State wraps up its two-game road swing in the MAC West on Saturday at Northern Illinois.
Senior Rachel Goldenberg earned MAC Specialist of the Week honors for her career-best performances.
She won the vault and floor exercise against Eastern Michigan on Jan. 20 with career performances. On the vault, her 9.850 is the team’s highest mark on the apparatus this season. She then capped the event with another career-best in earning a 9.900 on her floor routine, which also marked the top score this season in the MAC.
The Flashes, the preseason MAC favorites, are at Ball State at 7 tonight.
Track and field
Senior Princeton Bryson raced out to two victories last week, including a nationally ranked, top 20 performance to earn the MAC Men’s Track Athlete of the Week award.
He recorded the third-best time in Kent State history and the fastest time in the 60-meter dash in league competition with his 6.71 time at the Akron Dual on Jan. 20. His personal best in the 60-meter dash is also in the Top 20 nationally.
He also posted a time of 22.05 in the 200-meter dash, winning the race by 0.2 seconds — for the fourth-best time in the MAC this season and second-best time on the team.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Stephanie on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/sstorm13.