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Record-Courier staff report
BOWLING GREEN -- Streaks have come, but mostly gone, during what's become a trying 2013-14 season for the Kent State men's basketball team.
The Golden Flashes' run of 15 straight winning seasons in Mid-American Conference play came to a halt on Wednesday, when they fell 73-66 to host Bowling Green at the Stroh Center. Kent State slipped to 6-9 in MAC play with three regular-season games remaining, and can now do no better than finish 9-9 in the conference, which would equal the record of former head coach Gary Waters' second squad in 1997-98 -- the last KSU team to not eclipse .500 against MAC foes.
The Flashes (15-13) absorbed their second loss in a row overall and fifth in their past six road games, while the Falcons (12-16, 6-9) avenged a last-second loss in Kent just two weeks ago. Kent State also fell to 0-3 at the Stroh Center and 22-51 overall in BG.
Bowling Green took the lead midway through the first half, extended it to double-digits with an 8-0 run early in the second half, then held off a Kent State rally down the stretch.
"We just didn't play well tonight," said KSU coach Rob Senderoff. "I'm not sure why. It's hard to explain."
Poor shooting and rebounding have plagued the Flashes throughout the MAC season, and that was the case yet again on Wednesday. Kent State shot 35 percent from the field (22-of-63) and was out-boarded 44-31.
"We've struggled to rebound the ball all year. We have to play more physical and play tougher," said Senderoff. "We didn't shoot a lot of 3s (5-of-15). We shot a lot of balls right on top of the rim. We had 15 offensive rebounds and didn't convert half of them. They had nine blocks, so I'm sure they had a little bit to do with that, but we have to do a better job of finishing."
Junior guard Devareaux Manley buried 4-of-9 3-pointers off the bench and led Kent State with 16 points, but his teammates combined to hit just 1-of-6 shots from long range.
Junior guard Kris Brewer (14 points, 3 assists) and senior forward Mark Henniger (10 points, 6 rebounds) both returned to the starting lineup and finished in double figures. Senior forward Darren Goodson was moved to the bench and struggled, scoring four points on 1-of-12 shooting from the field.
Bowling Green took a 31-26 halftime advantage and extended its lead to 12 points by the 13:05 mark of the second half. The Flashes rallied, pulling to within three points at 53-50 following two Kellon Thomas free throws with 5:32 remaining.
But on the next three possessions, Brewer, Derek Jackson and Goodson all missed shots in the lane, and Bowling Green turned those misses into easy baskets on the other end during a 7-0 run that put the Falcons in control.
"We wanted to attack the rim hard and get to the foul line. We were able to do that," said Senderoff. "But when we didn't get the foul, we had a hard time getting shots to fall over their bigs."
The Flashes cut the lead to 69-66 on a pair of free throws by Jackson, but BG's Jehvon Clarke drilled four free throws in the closing seconds to cap a game-high 21 points and seal the win. The Falcons point guard also finished with five assists and eight rebounds.
Bowling Green senior center Cameron Black, a former Kent Roosevelt High School star, finished with nine points, six rebounds and five blocks despite playing just 23 minutes due to foul trouble.
The Flashes will travel to Ohio University (19-9, 9-6) on Saturday.
The Flashes need four wins to reach 19 for the 16th consecutive season, but have only three games plus the MAC Tournament left to play.