Kent State's men's basketball team is back home after a perfect trip to the Bahamas.
The Golden Flashes played four games against national teams from the Bahamas last week, winning all four with relative ease as the average margin of victory was nearly 19 points. The Flashes saved their best performance for last, racing to a 60-32 halftime lead en route to a trip-ending 97-73 win over New Providence on Friday.
"I thought the first half was our best defensive half of the four games we played out here," said KSU third-year coach Rob Senderoff. "We had 16 steals at halftime, which is an unbelievable number. The second half got a little bit sloppy. But when you're up 28 points at halftime, sometimes the games tend to get that way. The second half wasn't as crisp on either end of the floor, but it was a good performance overall. We had a number of guys in double-figures again and some different guys in double-figures. It was a nice way to end the trip."
Sophomore guard Devin Carter became the fourth different player to lead Kent State in scoring with a game-high 15 points against New Providence. He also piled up six steals in the first half alone. Redshirt freshman guard Tyler Scott also had his best game of the trip in the finale with 13 points and four offensive rebounds, helping the Flashes dominate the boards 49-29.
Senderoff was pleased to watch his team play well while still finding some areas of weakness during the trip.
"Overall, I think we got a lot of film to watch to get better," said Senderoff. "You're starting to see some roles get defined and see who can play, and where they can play. We're still missing (sophomore point guard) Kellon Thomas (knee injury, out until early Oct.), which I think will really help shore up our backcourt when we have him. I really liked the leadership that (junior point guard) Kris Brewer showed on this trip and in the practices leading up to the trip. While his numbers weren't off the charts, I think he really established himself as a leader of the team. We obviously know (senior forward Darren (Goodson) is a leader. And (senior forward) Mark Henniger has been really consistent. He has played better and better in our practices and played well out here, like you'd expect a senior to do."
Brewer (9.3 points per game), Goodson (11 ppg) and Henniger (9 ppg, 69 percent shooting from floor) were three of seven players who averaged nine or more points per game on the trip, led by sophomore guard Devareaux Manley at 12.5 points per outing. Carter was second in scoring (11.5), while sophomore guard K.K. Simmons averaged 9.8 points and junior guard Derek Jackson chipped in 9.5 per outing (8-of-12 from 3-point range).
Senior forward Melvin Tabb led the team in rebounding at 6.3 boards per contest, followed by Goodson (5.8), sophomore forward Chris Ortiz (5.5) and Henniger (5.0). Brewer averaged a team-high 5.5 assists per contest and made just three turnovers 88 minutes of action.
Senderoff was pleased to see Brewer step up when his team needed him most.
"The thing I was most pleased to see was at halftime of our second game, we were only up 10, and Kris Brewer huddled the entire team up and did a lot of talking," said Senderoff. "I don't know what was said because I wasn't in there, but at the end of third quarter, we were up by 25."
The Flashes wound up defeating the Bahamas All-Stars 90-75.
"For us to be a good team, (Brewer) has to be not just a really good player, but also a really good leader, and I think he has done that over these 10 practices and this trip," said Senderoff. "Guys follow him and look up to him on the court. That's going to be important going forward for our team."
Brewer and Simmons also were 6-of-6 from the line in Thursday's 94-87 triumph over the Mail Boat Cybots, Kent State's closest contest of the trip. Jackson led the way with 18 points, hitting 5-of-7 shots from 3-point range.
The Flashes will now take some time to focus on fall classes, which begin today, before returning to the hardwood.
"I'm going to give the team at least a week off, probably more," said Senderoff. "These guys have been going since June 10th. I want to let them get established in the classroom, then some time during the second week of September we'll start conditioning and preseason stuff. I'm sure guys will get in the gym on their own, but I'm not going to have much mandatory until after Labor Day."
Kent State opens the 2013-14 campaign Nov. 8 against Ohio Northern.
Kent State opened the 2013 season with a 3-2 home victory over St. Bonaventure on Friday, then fell to Marshall 3-0 on Sunday.
Freshman midfielder Jenna Hellstrom scored two goals, including the game-winner in the 76th minute of play against St. Bonaventure (0-1). Sophomore Madison Helterbran scored KSU's other goal on a header.
The Thundering Herd (2-0) outshot the Flashes (1-1) 14-4, and put the match away with a pair of second-half goals.
Kent State, picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference East Division in the league's preseason poll, returns to action Friday at home against Cleveland State.
TRACK & FIELD
Kent State has named Phil Bastron as its new assistant coach. Bastron, who spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach at Division III Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., will primarily work with student-athletes in the vertical jumps and combined events.
"Phil's very excited to join a Division I program," said Bill Lawson, Kent State's director of track and field and cross country. "He brings national experience as both a coach and a competitor, and knows what it takes to be at a championship level. Phil also brings great organizational skills and will be a good recruiter for us. We're thrilled to have Phil join our coaching staff."
Bastron was a three-time All-American student-athlete at the University of St. Thomas (Minn.), winning a national title as a member of the 4x400 relay in 2009. He replaces Brooke Demo, who left after three seasons to become an assistant coach at Louisville.
One current KSU star and one from two seasons ago made strong showings at the PGA Tour Canada's The Great Waterway Classic event this weekend.
Former Kent State standout Mackenzie Hughes finished 10th thanks to a final-round 66 that left him at 16-under for the event (70-67-69-66). Current Flashes sensation Taylor Pendrith, competing as an amateur, wound up 46th at 5-under. He shook off a first-round 75 with a second-round 66, then closes 70-72.
Current Kent State women's star Jennifer Ha competed in the PGA Tour's CN Canadian Women's Open, but failed to make the cut.
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