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Staff and wire report
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- Valiant attempts to rescue the Kent State men's basketball team from another embarrassing loss ultimately fell short Wednesday night at Central Michigan.
Golden Flashes sophomore guard K.K. Simmons made a pair of 3-pointers in the final 43 seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime, but the Chippewas pulled away in the extra session to earn a 78-73 victory -- their first Mid-American Conference triumph of the season after opening with eight straight losses.
The Flashes have now dropped four of their last five, and saw 12-game winning streaks both against CMU at in Mount Pleasant come to a halt. They also failed to maintain the momentum generated by their dramatic 60-57 home win over rival Akron on Saturday.
"It's frustrating for our coaching staff watching how we play at times," said KSU coach Rob Senderoff. "We played phenomenal against Akron. Our consistency of effort just isn't there, and it's frustrating. You just can't explain it."
Kent State (12-10, 3-6 MAC) cut a four-point deficit to one on a 3-pointer by junior point guard Kris Brewer, then trailed by just two with 19.2 seconds to go in overtime after Central Michigan (8-13, 1-8) split a pair of free throws. But senior forward Darren Goodson was called for an illegal screen with 16 seconds remaining, and the Chippewas put the game away at the line in the closing seconds.
Brewer finished with a team-high 17 points and five assists, while Goodson contributed 15 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for Kent State. Junior guard Derek Jackson, a transfer from CMU, added 12 points.
The Flashes led 32-25 at halftime after holding Central Michigan to 32 percent shooting from the field, while hitting 58 percent of their own attempts from the floor. Jackson scored nine of his 12 in the opening 20 minutes.
The Chippewas fell behind by nine but rallied behind sophomore forward John Simons, who buried four 3-pointers early in the second half and fueled a 14-2 run that put the hosts on top 48-43.
Goodson hit some key buckets to keep the Flashes close, then Simmons made his only two buckets of the game to force overtime.
Turnovers against the CMU press ultimately did Kent State in. The Flashes coughed up the ball 18 times, which led to a 22-9 deficit in points off turnovers.
"We had four guards on the floor for the majority of the game and had 18 turnovers," said Senderoff. "It's hard to win games that way. Ultimately I'm responsible because I'm the coach, but it's difficult when you see some of the plays that are being made."
KSU also hit just 8-of-15 free throws, including 4-of-7 in the extra session.
Simons posted game-highs of 22 points (6-of-11 3-pointers) and 11 rebounds, while Chris Fowler added 18 points and five assists for the Chippewas after scoring just two in the first half. Fowler averages nearly 20 points per game in MAC contests.
Kent State sophomore forward Khaliq Spicer played just five minutes after suffering an injury during the morning shoot-around.
The Flashes will visit Eastern Michigan (12-10, 4-5) on Saturday.
The roller-coaster ride continues for this team. Seniors missing big free throws in overtime, and the illegal screen call that appeared to be the correct call, played a big role in the O.T. loss. Giving up a nine-point lead in the second half, and not scoring for extended periods, you really are left to wonder about leadership from the upper classmen. I sympathize with Coach Senderoff. You can only do so much. Players must commit themselves to consistency, which obviously is not happening here. We'll see who shows up against a much-improved Eastern Michigan team Saturday.