Story courtesy of Kent State Sports Information
Kent State 68, Kennesaw State 61
KENT, Ohio – Mark Henniger, Derek Jackson and Kellon Thomas fueled a 16-4 run to open the second half as Kent State improved to 8-1 on the season with a 68-51 victory over Kennesaw State on Sunday afternoon at the M.A.C. Center.
Kent State held Kennesaw State to only 51 points, 31-percent shooting and seven assists, all season lows for the Owls. Meanwhile, it was the fewest points allowed and best defensive field goal percentage for the Golden Flashes against a Division I opponent this season. They hauled in 31 defensive rebounds, also a season-best against Division I competition.
"That was probably the best game we've played defensively this year," said Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff, "but also probably the worst game we've played offensively."
The Golden Flashes held a slim 27-25 lead at the break following a sluggish half in which they committed nine turnovers and shot just 33-percent from the field. Trailing 25-23, the Flashes held the Owls scoreless over the final 4:29 of the half to regain the lead.
Kent State came out with great energy in the second half, as a Jackson steal led to a fast break layup by Henniger off of an assist by Thomas. The Flashes forced turnovers by the Owls on each of their next three possessions as well. Kennesaw State finally made its first basket of the half at the 16:37 mark, ending a stretch of nearly eight minutes in which the Flashes had held it scoreless. Kent State extended it to a 16-4 run over the first six-plus minutes to take control of the game, and Kennesaw State was unable to trim the lead back inside double-digits.
"I'm very happy to get the win, but I wasn't happy at all at halftime," Senderoff said. "We weren't playing with enough energy. We weren't playing Kent State basketball. But that start to the second half really got us going. I thought Henniger and Jackson played very well again for us, and Thomas gave us another big lift off of the bench."
Henniger finished with a team-high 16 points while going 4-for-5 from the field and making all eight of his free throws. In Kent State's current 6-0 homestand, Henniger is a perfect 35-for-35 from the foul line.
Jackson added 14 points, going 4-of-6 from the field and 5-of-5 from the foul line. As a team, Kent State made 31 of its 39 free throws compared to just 8-of-9 for Kennesaw State.
In a game where the Golden Flashes committed 19 turnovers and assisted just eight times on 17 made baskets, Thomas turned in four assists while running the point for 21 minutes of turnover-free basketball.
Khaliq Spicer came off the bench to grab a career-high 13 rebounds as Kent State dominated the rebounding battle 42-30.
Kennesaw State was led by Delbert Love and Bernard Morena, who scored 16 points each.
Kent State will try to improve to 9-1 for the first time since the 2002-03 campaign when it completes its seven-game homestand against Bucknell at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The Golden Flashes went 8-1 to being Senderoff's first season as head coach in 2011-12.