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BOWLING GREEN -- Call it a lingering hangover from Saturday's tough-to-swallow loss to rival Akron. Call it the downhill version of the typical roller-coaster ride inexperienced teams always suffer through. Call it the inevitable road clunker that was long overdue.
Rob Senderoff called it simply "inexcusable."
Kent State's second-year men's basketball coach was in no mood to offer theories or logic of any kind to help explain what he witnessed during Wednesday's ugly 70-55 loss to Bowling Green at the Stroh Center.
"You could say hangover, you could say whatever. All of those are excuses," said Senderoff. "There's no excuse for us to play like that. That's it. There are no excuses for that. We laid an egg tonight in all aspects."
The numbers certainly bear that out.
The Flashes (11-8, 2-3 MAC) shot 36 percent from the field (20-of-55), 18 percent from 3-point range (3-of-17) and 60 percent from the free-throw line (12-of-20). They finished with just eight assists compared to 15 turnovers. They allowed a struggling Falcons squad (7-11, 2-3) that had lost seven of its last eight games and entered the contest ranked 10th in the Mid-American Conference in scoring and shooting to reach 70 points for the first time in over a month.
For all of those reasons and many more, the MAC's top road team saw its three-game winning streak away from Kent come to a screeching halt.
Did Senderoff see a letdown coming after Saturday's difficult defeat?
"I'm not gonna sit here and tell you it doesn't make sense to me, losing the (Akron) game how we did, that we would have a letdown," said Senderoff. "But did I see it coming? No. We practiced hard, we were prepared."
Shortly after tip-off, everyone could see it coming.
Both teams started off slowly, but the Flashes' cold spell lasted the longest. Kent State clanked 15 of its first 19 field-goal attempts and found itself doubled up at 20-10 with 8:47 left in the first half after a jumper by 5-foot-6 senior point guard Jordan Crawford capped a 12-2 BG run.
"We didn't have the energy to start the game the way we needed to. There's no question about that. And that hurt," said Senderoff. "In the first half we played awful. We were awful."
The Flashes were forced to play catch-up from that point on, and never succeeded as Bowling Green stretched its lead to 35-22 after closing the half with a 9-0 run.
Kent State repeatedly unleashed long jumpers and 3-pointers that landed well short in the opening 20 minutes. And the few times the ball was kicked inside, junior post players Mark Henniger and Melvin Tabb were unable to convert.
"We took too many jump shots, didn't share the ball enough (2 first-half assists), missed bunnies," said Senderoff. "Our post players were 1-for-7 in the first half, all from two feet and in. It's tough to win when Mark Henniger and Melvin Tabb go 1-for-7. We've gotta play better, those two guys in particular. There's no excuse for them to play the way they're playing, period. It's gotta matter more to them."
While Kent State out-rebounded Bowling Green for the game, problems on the defensive glass that devastated the Flashes in Saturday's loss to the Zips reared their ugly head again. Richaun Holmes, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, came off the bench to grab four offensive rebounds and score six points in the first half -- all on putbacks -- as the Falcons rolled up a 15-6 advantage in second-chance points.
Kent State attempted to make a game of it in the second half, but could not sustain its effort for any length of time on either end of the floor.
Senior guard Randal Holt caught fire for a brief period, burying a pair of 3-pointers and feeding fellow senior Chris Evans for an alley-oop dunk to start the second half as KSU trimmed the deficit to eight. The Flashes got within seven twice, but no closer as each rally would be halted by a missed free throw (6-of-12 in the second half) or poor decision of some sort.
A barrage of 3-pointers by Falcons sophomore swingman Chauncey Orr, who scored a game-high 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting from long range, also helped keep Kent State buried.
Crawford finished with 12 points, six assists and four steals, while senior forward A'uston Calhoun added 12 points and a game-high 13 boards for Bowling Green.
Holt led the Flashes with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals, while Evans chipped in 13 points and six boards. No other KSU player managed more than seven points.
Things won't get any easier for Kent State, which must lick its wounds quickly and prepare for Saturday's home matchup with first-place Ohio (14-5, 5-0), coached by former KSU mentor Jim Christian.
BLACK SOLID FOR BG
Former Kent Roosevelt standout Cameron Black started at center for the Falcons and made his presence felt, finishing with four points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 15 minutes of action. The 6-foot-10, 248-pound junior is averaging close to 3.5 points, four rebounds and a blocked shot per contest.
SPICER A BRIGHT SPOT
While Henniger and Tabb were benched for the entire second half, freshman Khaliq Spicer started and made a respectable showing. He finished with four points, four rebounds and a blocked shot in 17 minutes, after entering the game with just 47 minutes played for the entire season.
"I was proud of Khaliq," said Senderoff. "He played his best game and will continue to play."