OXFORD, Ohio – Saturday’s Mid-American Conference basketball game at Millett Hall pitted the league’s top 3-point shooting squad against a team ranked No. 11 in defending the three. The result was a 78-58 Kent State victory over Miami as the Golden Flashes converted a season-high 13 treys on 26 attempts (50%).
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KSU’s league-leading percentage entering the game was 36.4 percent, while Miami was allowing opponents to convert 38 percent.
Sophomore Devareaux Manley (12 points) netted 4-of-5 in the Flashes 3-point barrage against MU. Randal Holt, who brought a league-best 37 MAC treys into Saturday’s game, hit 5-of-9 from beyond the arc on the way to 19 points. Chris Evans connected on two treys and several dunks while going 7-of-12 from the field for a game-high 21 points.
Holt and Evans, both seniors, provided 43 percent of their team’s offensive output entering Saturday’s contest and were good for 40-of-78 KSU points (51%) against Miami (8-19, 3-11 MAC).
It was the sixth win in Kent State’s last seven outings as the Flashes (17-12, 7-7 MAC) appear to be putting their game in order just as MAC tournament time approaches.
“I’m proud of these guys, because we went through a stretch early in the year where we were really struggling on both ends of the floor,” Senderhoff said. “At this stage of the year … if we had won by one, I’d be ecstatic. If we had won by 20, I’m equally ecstatic. You just want your kids trying to play as hard as they can and as well as they can at this stage. … I feel like we’re starting to play better as we get to March.”
Miami, meanwhile, started March as it left February. It has, in fact, been a month since the RedHawks recorded a win. MU fell for the seventh consecutive game and 11th time in the last 12 outings.
Junior forward Will Felder led Miami, hitting 7-of-10 shots from the field and all four of his free throw shots. Junior forward Jon Harris was the only other RedHawk player with more than six points. He had 16 markers after connecting on 5-of-6 from the floor (2-of-3 trey attempts) and 2-of-4 free throws.
Despite the final 20-point margin, Miami was able to mount a much better challenge in the second meeting between the two teams. Kent State won, 87-70, at home back on Feb. 13. But the Flashes broke that game open relatively early and went into cruise control.
“This game, it was a really tight game,”Senderhoff said Saturday. “At halftime it was a four-point game. (It was) much more competitive, and much tougher for us. The end score (was) not really indicative of the game.”
Miami managed to stay with the surging Flashes through intermission thanks to some good shooting. The RedHawks hit 60 percent of their shots, including 4-of-5 from distance, for a total of 12 field goals. Kent State also had 12 field goals (on 26 shots – 46.2 percent). However, eight of the goals were threes, helping the Flashes establish a 37-33 halftime advantage.
The hosts were still within four points (42-38) after an old-fashioned three point play by Felder at 16:50, but KSU then went on an 8-0 run to establish a 12-point advantage.
“We had a stretch there where they got up and we were able to cut it. We could never really quite get over the hump,” Cooper said. “With the way they were shooting the basketball, they always seemed to make some timely shots just at the right time.”
Connecting on 59.1 percent (13/22) of their shots in the second half, the Flashes were able to pull away for the final 20-point margin. After hitting 60 percent before intermission, Miami connected on 32 percent (8/25) in the second stanza.
“I felt like they just turned the (defensive) intensity up,” Harris said. “That’s what good teams do. They turn the intensity up when they need to and they get stops.”
“I’m proud of how our kids defended in the second half,” Senderhoff said. “I didn’t think we did a great job, obviously, in the first half defensively. But in the second half, we sort of stepped that up, and I think it made a big difference for us.”
Kent State hopes to continue its winning ways next week with a home game against Bowling Green ( 7 p.m.) Tuesday and a short trip to rival Akron Saturday (7 p.m.).
Miami will finish out its regular season with two tough road games. The RedHawks meet Akron Tuesday (7 p.m.) and close with a Saturday matchup at rival Ohio (4 p.m.).