KENT: The last time Kent State played Northern Illinois a little over two weeks ago, the Golden Flashes rallied from a double-digit deficit to force overtime and win on the road thanks to a 25-point effort by Kris Brewer.
When the two teams faced each other in the rematch Wednesday at the M.A.C. Center, the junior point guard’s will to win was nowhere to be found.
Brewer finished with just two points.
The Flashes squandered a 14-point lead and a series of missteps by Brewer over the final seconds helped the Huskies escape with a 50-49 Mid-American Conference victory.
“They made it harder for [Brewer] to get shots up, I’m sure,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. “But he was 0-for-7 [from the field], 0-for-4 from 3 and had three turnovers. We [narrowly lose to the league’s best team in] Toledo [Sunday] and he’s arguably the best player on the floor. Then tonight Kris really struggled.”
Senderoff went on to say he wasn’t “trying to throw [Brewer] under the bus,” knowing when his team shoots 34.8 percent from the field and Darren Goodson leads the team in scoring with 10 points, it’s obvious all of the Flashes struggled.
But it was a tough loss for Senderoff to take, especially given his Flashes held a lead for most of the game. KSU led by seven at halftime and increased its lead to 40-26 just five and a half minutes into the second half.
“We’re up , then we turn it over and foul and it was like from that point we just stopped playing,” Senderoff said. “And I don’t have the answer for it … I really don’t know what happened from that point on. Turnover, turnover, turnover and then we just don’t score the rest of the night.”
From that point on, the Flashes (11-9, 2-5 MAC) shot just 1-for-11 from the field and committed six turnovers. Despite another poor offensive showing, the Flashes led 49-48 after Dev Manley made two free throws as NIU’s Darrell Bowie fouled out of the game.
“We needed one stop late after still playing so poorly the whole game — didn’t get it,” said Senderoff, the only one to enter the media room after his team’s disappointing loss.
Instead, as NIU (8-11, 2-5) point guard Travon Baker raced down court trying to make a play all by himself, he was bailed out by Brewer, who inexplicably fouled him right in front of the basket with five seconds left. After Baker converted both shots to give NIU a 50-49 lead, Brewer had little time to push the ball the length of the floor to attempt a final game-winning shot.
But he took too much time and was forced to throw an off-balanced, desperation shot that didn’t even hit the rim as time expired.
“There’s five seconds to go and he fouled,” Senderoff said. “Then they came out in a zone and we were running a play to try to get Kris to dribble. I mean, he’s the fastest guy in America [but] he didn’t even drive it fast. He was out of it all night, and I don’t know why.”
Kent State doesn’t have much time to figure things out either. The first of two games against rival Akron looms on Saturday.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State blog at https://ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.