By Allen Moff | Staff Writer
After toying with a physically overmatched Chicago State squad for much of the first 24 minutes, Chris Evans and Randal Holt decided to get serious.
Kent State's senior stars each buried a 3-pointer at the beginning and ending of a 16-3 run that also included a vicious Evans dunk off an alley-oop pass from Holt, triggering the blowout that was to come as the Golden Flashes (2-1) coasted past the Cougars (1-2) 92-63 Friday night at the M.A.C. Center.
Sophomore guard Devareaux Manley continued the 3-point assault started by Evans and Holt, burying five in the second half as the run reached 38-9. Manley, who went scoreless (0-for-5 field goals) in seven minutes in Kent State's first two games, wound up scoring a career-high 20 points off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting from long range in just 15 minutes of action.
"The first couple games I didn't come out shooting like I wanted to," said Manley. "I had the whole team and coaches telling me 'You're not shooting well, but how often are you getting in the gym and putting up shots late at night?'
"That's all I had to do, and tonight I came out and hit. I owe it all to my coaches and teammates for their support."
Evans produced a stellar all-around game, totaling 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals, while Holt was equally proficient with 15 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Most impressively, after combining for 16 turnovers in Tuesday's loss to Temple, starting guards Evans, Holt and sophomore Kris Brewer (career-high 6 assists) piled up a combined 13 assists and 10 steals, while committing just one turnover apiece.
Kent State finished with 23 assists and 10 steals against just six turnovers, while battling an athletic Chicago State squad that had forced 55 turnovers in its first two games, which included a narrow loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay. The Cougars made 29 steals in those first two games, but had just one against the Flashes.
"A lot of our guys came out with a determination to play better, stay focused and stay within themselves," said KSU head coach Rob Senderoff. "The stat that shows that is the assists. Instead of trying to do things for yourself, we were trying to do stuff to create for somebody else."
The game was tight early on, although the issue was never really in doubt. A jumper by Holt put the Flashes ahead to stay 14-12 at the 15-minute mark of the first half, and Kent State slowly increased the lead to 42-32 at intermission.
The Flashes established their superiority in the paint, outscoring Chicago State 30-12 inside in the first half. The lead could have been much larger if not for a smattering of defensive lapses, quick-trigger 3-pointers that didn't go and 4-of-11 shooting from the free-throw line that served as continual rally killers.
But aside from the poor free-throw shooting, those mistakes were eliminated in the second half.
After missing 10 of their first 12 3-pointers, the Flashes drained nine of their last 15 while outscoring the Cougars 50-31 in the second half.
"In the first half we took too many 3s when the ball didn't get in the paint and out, or wasn't in transition," said Senderoff. "That's something we talked about, not shooting them off the bounce; we had too many guys shooting 3s off the dribble. In the second half we did a much better job of either getting 3s in transition, or inside-out 3s. Because of that we shot a high percentage."
The night's only lowlight was Kent State's free-throw percentage: 39 percent (11-of-28). The Flashes are now shooting a dismal 55 percent from the charity stripe on the young season.
"I'm concerned," said Senderoff. "It's one of those things where if you talk about it, it's something more that you think about. I know these guys are good percentage shooters. We'll certainly be shooting them tomorrow, that I can promise you."
Twelve players scored for the Flashes, as junior forward Mark Henniger (11 points, 4 rebounds) and junior guard Bryson Pope (10 points, all in the first half) gave the team five players in double-figures.
Kent State returns to action Sunday at 2 p.m. against Valparaiso (2-1).
FLASHES 92, COUGARS 63
CHICAGO STATE (1-2) -- Robinson 5-10 4-4 14, Ross 4-9 2-2 14, Dismukes 0-3 0-0 0, Duhon 4-11 4-5 13, Pippen 2-7 0-1 4, Gray 3-5 1-1 8, Gage 0-1 0-0 0, Chamberlain 0-1 0-0 0, Rosenberg 3-3 3-4 10. Totals 21-50 14-17 63.
KENT STATE (2-1) -- Evans 6-10 0-1 14, Henniger 5-6 1-2 11, Goodson 1-4 0-0 2, Brewer 1-5 2-4 4, Holt 6-10 1-2 15, Pope 4-7 1-3 10, Thomas 0-1 3-5 3, Ortiz 1-2 1-3 3, Manley 7-10 0-0 20, Brunswick 0-0 0-2 0, Spicer 1-1 0-2 2, Morris Jr. 2-3 1-2 5, Frank 0-1 0-0 0, Tabb 1-1 1-2 3. Totals 35-61 11-28 92.
Halftime--Kent St. 42-32. 3-Point Goals--Chicago St. 7-21 (Ross 4-8, Rosenberg 1-1, Duhon 1-2, Gray 1-3, Chamberlain 0-1, Dismukes 0-1, Pippen 0-5), Kent St. 11-27 (Manley 6-8, Evans 2-3, Holt 2-5, Pope 1-3, Frank 0-1, Ortiz 0-1, Morris Jr. 0-1, Goodson 0-2, Brewer 0-3). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--Chicago St. 32 (Robinson 10), Kent St. 35 (Evans 8). Assists--Chicago St. 15 (Dismukes 4), Kent St. 23 (Brewer 6). Total Fouls--Chicago St. 23, Kent St. 18. A--2,380.