Brewer shines late in Kent State men's basketball road win at Charleston

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CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Playing for the first time in 16 days -- on the road no less -- may have been difficult for Kent State's men's basketball team as a whole, but not for Kris Brewer.

The Golden Flashes' junior point guard certainly showed no signs of rust in the second half of Saturday's battle at the College of Charleston (5-7), when he scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in a 58-54 victory at TD Arena that gave Kent State its first 9-2 start since 2007-08, which was the last time it advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Brewer scored five points in the final 1:08, helping the Flashes break a 50-50 tie by scoring eight of the game's final 12 points.

"Kris Brewer was fantastic in the second half," said KSU coach Rob Senderoff, whose squad had been off since losing 66-59 at home to Bucknell on Dec. 4. "As I tell these guys, it's not about one guy, but all 16. It was a great win for us. Everybody who came in helped us and contributed to the win today."

Brewer broke the 50-50 tie with a three-point play on a drive to the basket with 1:08 to play. Following two free throws by the Cougars, Brewer scored again on a drive to the basket to put Kent State up by three points once more with 18.4 remaining.

After the Flashes got a defensive stop, senior forward Mark Henniger was fouled after grabbing a rebound and calmly sank a pair of free throws with four seconds remaining. He has now made 37 consecutive free throws.

"That was one of our better defensive efforts of the year. I thought we did a great job," said Senderoff.

"One of things we've been emphasizing in practice is trying to create some turnovers, and I think we did that tonight (forcing 21 turnovers)," Senderoff said. "We did a good job of pressuring the basketball and trying to speed them up."

Coming off the bench for the first time this season, senior Darren Goodson joined Brewer in double figures with 10 points. Goodson provided a spark by causing a pair of turnovers within a few minutes of entering the game and also took two charges during the second half.

Sophomore Devin Carter made a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of a sluggish first half to give the Flashes a 17-16 lead going into the locker room. Kent State made just 5 of its 25 shots from the floor in the opening 20 minutes and shot an uncharacteristic 50 percent from the free-throw line (5-of-10). However, a terrific defensive effort kept the Flashes ahead as they allowed the College of Charleston to shoot only 6-of-24 from the field and forced 11 turnovers.

"That we were up at halftime with the way we shot the ball and took care of the ball, I was actually pleased because we played so poorly on the offensive end in the first half," said Senderoff. "People talk about rust, and I always say that there is no such thing, but maybe that contributed to it in the first half."

The Flashes won despite shooting a subpar 33 percent from the field (17-of-51), 5-of-16 from 3-point range (31 percent), and 19-of-30 from the free-throw line (63 percent) overall. They also committed 14 turnovers and were out-rebounded 41-33. Additionally, the Flashes had only seven total assists as a team on 17 made field goals.

"It certainly wasn't pretty," said Senderoff. "They (College of Charleston) play a lot of games like that. They make it a grind-it-out game. Our kids had just enough resolve and fight, and we made just enough plays at the end. I just told them to stay at it and continue to play for each other -- not caring about yourself and just caring about the final score -- and that's what we did."

Flashes junior Devareaux Manley also came off the bench for the first time this season and scored eight points, while Derek Jackson contributed nine rebounds and a pair of steals.

Willis Hall scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Cougars.

The Flashes will now have another week off before returning to action at home on Saturday, when they host Cleveland State (6-6) -- led by former KSU mentor Gary Waters. The Vikings lost to an 11-0 undefeated Toledo Rockets team on Saturday 69-67.

"It's going to be an unbelievable game," said Senderoff, referencing the Flashes' matchup with Cleveland State. "They're very good and well-coached. Everybody knows Gary Waters from his time at Kent State. It's going to be a great game and hopefully a great atmosphere, because we're going to need people there to help us get the win."

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