ATHENS, Ohio -- Despite a double-double performance from redshirt sophomore forward Jason Carter (Johnstown, Ohio)the Ohio men's basketball team (9-7, 1-3 MAC) would be unable to recover from an 11-point half-time deficit, falling to Kent State (13-4, 2-2 MAC), 66-52, Tuesday evening (Jan. 15) inside the Convocation Center.
"We never found a rhythm tonight one way or the other," said fifth-year head coach Saul Phillips said. "There switches and post-doubles certainly got under our skin a little bit and we didn't do a very good job of handling those things."
Carter went 4-of-9 from the field as well as 2-of-2 from the free-throw line for 11 points while compiling a game-high 13 rebounds and a game-high four assists in 31 minutes of play. Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk (Joliet, Ill.) also compiled 11 points going 4-of-22 from the field and added seven rebounds, two assists, and a game-high four steals in 33 minutes of work for Ohio. Junior guard Antonio Cowart, Jr. (McComb, Miss.) followed closely behind adding 10 points, five rebounds and a steal in 29 minutes. Senior guard/forward Gavin Block (Lincoln, Ill.), added six points and an assist in 26 minutes of play, while senior forward Doug Taylor (Columbus, Ohio) also added six points and contributed eight rebounds, an assist and a block in 32 minutes of play for the Bobcats.
Cowart, Jr. was able to drive down the lane for Ohio's first points, trailing 7-2, after a three-minute scoring drought opened the game. Redshirt freshman forward Ben Vander Plas (Ripon, Wis) entered and added a quick slam dunk that was followed by a three-point basket by Block that shrunk the Bobcat deficit to four. The Golden Flashes were not phased as they registered a three-point basket to extend the lead to 14-7.
Through 10 minutes of play, the Ohio offense registered a 27 percent field goal percentage going 4-of-15 from the floor while Kent State offense registered a 50 percent field goal percentage going 7-of-14 resulting in a 16-10 lead for the Golden Flashes.
Freshman guard Jason Preston (Orlando, Fla.) and Carter strung together five points to bring the Bobcats within two, down 17-15, however the Golden Flashes answered which brought the lead back to six with just over eight minutes remaining in the half. Redshirt junior guard James Gollon (Stevens Point, Wis.) converted on a three-point attempt which brought the Ohio deficit to 21-18 but again Kent State answered, this time outscoring the Bobcats 13- 4 for a 34-22 lead as the three-minute mark approached in the first half. To close out the first half, Ohio was able to convert a two-point bucket while Kent State was able to convert a three-point bucket that kept the Golden Flashes ahead 37-26.
"We started moving well without the ball against Ball State and then tonight we got a little stagnant," said Carter. "We just tried to force a little too much, trying to make an extra pass that wasn't there."
Ohio registered a 37 percent field goal percentage going 10-of-27 from the field – including 3-of-11 from three-point range, compared to Kent State who registered a 52 percent field goal percentage going 15-of-29 from the field for the half – including 6-of-13 from three-point range. Kent State barely surpassed Ohio with 18 total rebounds and nine assists compared to 16 total rebounds and eight assists for the Bobcats. Ohio, however, was able to register 14 points in the paint and eight points off the bench compared to Kent States' 10 points in the paint and two points off the bench. Ohio only tallied one steal and two points converted off turnovers compared to four steals and 10 points converted off turnovers for Kent State for the half.
Cowart Jr. again scored the opening basket for Ohio sparking a 12-2 run, six of which were compiled by Kirk, that brought the Bobcats within one after six minutes of second half play. Taylor converted a put-back basket and the extra point to tie the game at 41 apiece with just over 10 minutes left to play.
Kent State, however, strung together a pair of baskets that forced an Ohio timeout trailing. Kent State continued force converting a three-point basket and a pair of free-throws to extend the lead to 50-41 with eight minutes left to play. Ohio and Kent State traded baskets, keeping the Golden Flashes ahead, 54-46, with just over four minutes left in the second half. Carter drove hard to the basket for a pair of points, but Kent State answered with a three-point basket that forced an Ohio timeout, down 57-48, with 3:29 remaining. With just over two-minutes left in regulation, Kent State converted six free-throw attempts to four points to take a 61-48 lead. Block, in an attempt to revive the Bobcats, converted a three-point basket that brought the score to 63-52 with under two-minutes to play but the deficit was too much to recover from as Kent State went on to capture the win, 66-52.
"We didn't adjust well throughout the whole game honestly," said Block. "You can't come off playing that well and settle for being okay with one win on Saturday. We have to be ready every single day and that has to be our mindset."
Ohio finished the game with a 32 percent (20-of-63) field goal percentage and 46 total rebounds compared to Kent State who finished the game with a 43 percent (23-of-53) field goal percentage and 38 total rebounds. Ohio registered 32 points in the paint and 13 assists compared to 22 points in the paint and 14 assists for the Golden Flashes. Ohio shot 50 percent from the free-throw line going 8-of-16 compared to Kent State who shot 57 percent from the free-throw line going 12-of-21.
Jaylin Walker finished with a game-high 21 points to lead Kent State in scoring. Walker added three rebounds, a game-high four assists and a steal in 36 minutes of play. Jalen Avery followed closely behind with 15 points and added five rebounds, a game-high four assists and a steal in 38 minutes of play. Philip Whittington and Antonio Williams both compiled 10 points for Kent State. Whittington registered a double-double adding a team-high 10 rebounds and a block in 24 minutes of play. Williams added three rebounds, two assists and a game-high four steals in his 36 minutes of play for the Golden Flashes.
The Bobcats head to Toledo, Ohio for a Friday night matchup with the Rockets on Jan. 18. TIp-off is set for 7 p.m. inside Savage Arena and can be seen on CBS Sports Network.