By EVAN MEYER
KENT, OHIO – The Kent State Golden Flashes improved to 3-0 in Mid-American Conference play with a 79-73 hard fought victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas Saturday afternoon at the MAC Center.
It was a familiar story for Central Michigan (9-7, 2-1 MAC) in at least once sense. The Chippewas are winless on the road this season in seven attempts.
Kent State (13-3, 3-0 MAC) picked up its third consecutive victory and fifth in the last six games while remaining perfect at home with a 9-0 record.
The Flashes played the game without senior Phillip Whittington, who was battling the flu.
“A really good win for us”. KSU head coach Rob Senderoff said. “It was not easy, especially in the second half. We need to play better with four of the next five on the road.”
Senior Antonio Williams led all scorers in the contest with a career high 23 points, going 9-of-17 from the field with four rebounds and four assists. Senior Troy Simons added 13, sophomore Anthony Roberts notched 12 and junior Danny Pippen had 10 points with 14 rebounds -- his third double-double of the season.
Senior Rob Montgomery led four Chippewas in double figures with 16 points 14 coming in the second half. Junior Travon Broadway Jr had 14, Seniors Dallas Morgan also had 14 and David Di Leo added 12.
The Flashes started the game strongly hitting five of their first six shots from the floor from three-point range to gain a 14-4 lead at the 15:24 mark on a three from senior Troy Simons from the right corner.
Although KSU would hold the lead for the remainder of the contest, it could not never quite establish a double-digit cushion. “We just could not put them away. Full credit to them.” Senderoff said.
Central Michigan closed its deficit to three points on two occasions the last being 29-26 at the 4:17 mark when junior Deschon Winston connected on a three from the right corner.
KSU pushed the lead out to 11 (38-27) -- its largest lead of the half -- when senior Mitch Peterson converted an and-one-three at the 2:32 mark and the home lead went into halftime with a 40-30 lead.
The Flashes shot 15-of-31 from the field and went 7-of-12 from beyond the arc over the opening 20 minutes. They held a narrow 19-16 rebounding edge, while CMU shot 11-of-26 from the floor (46 percent).
KSU’s second half lead fluctuated between seven and ten points.
With KSU holding a 62-52 lead on a layup by Anthony Roberts, CMU made a push with a 9-4 spurt to close to within three points 66-63 on a driving layup by Broadway with 4:22 remaining.
In fact, CMU closed to within a single point 69-68 with 2:47 remaining on a three by Morgan but could not get any further. The Flashes steadied their ship, making just enough plays both offensively and defensively to win. The victory avenged a pair of losses to CMU last season in the regular season in Mount Pleasant and in the MAC Tournament quarter-finals last March in Cleveland.
Over the 40 minutes, Kent State shot 45.6 percent from the field (27-of-59) while holding CMU to 40.6 percent (26-of-64). KSU won the battle of the boards 42-34 and turned 14 CMU turnovers into 15 points. Otherwise, the game was just about even on the stat sheet.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday with KSU starting a two-game road trip at Miami, while CMU heads to Toledo to face the Rockets.
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.