Men’s basketball falls to Kent State in Siblings Weekend rematch
On Siblings Weekend, the Central Michigan men’s basketball team put on a show for past, present and future Chippewas, but fell short in an effort to win.
The Chippewas (13-8, 2-6 MAC) fell to Kent State (11-10, 5-3), 84-76, at McGuirk Arena on Jan. 27 for their second-straight loss.
“Kent State represented our conference in the NCAA Tournament last year,” said CMU head coach Keno Davis. “I was really pleased with our effort in the first half. I felt like we were a couple of possessions away from winning."
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch.”
Senior forward Cecil Williams started out hot for CMU, scoring seven points to give his team an early 11-8 lead.
The two teams battled back-and-forth, as the Chippewas took an 18-17 lead on a tip-in bucket by sophomore guard Kevin McKay with 11:57 remaining in the first half.
Junior guard Gavin Peppers and senior forward Luke Meyer scored on back-to-back possessions with 7:14 remaining in the half, pushing CMU’s lead to eight points.
Moments later, the Chippewas’ run was quieted on a mid-range jumper from Kent State junior center Adonis De La Rosa.
De La Rosa earned a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“He’s the type of guy everyone wants on their team, not just in our conference,” Davis said. “If you have that physical presence, you can cover a lot of things defensively and have offensive opportunities to go inside and out.”
With 2:16 left in the first half, McKay picked the pocked of senior guard Kevin Zabo and threw down a slam dunk on the offensive end, giving Central Michigan a 39-27 edge.
Following the dunk, Kent State’s bench was issued a technical foul. CMU junior guard Shawn Roundtree converted both free throws, giving the team a 14-point lead, its biggest lead of the first half.
Roundtree finished the game with 17 points, two rebounds and five assists. He struggled from 3-point land, going 1-of-6.
Kent State continued to fight back, cutting its deficit to 41-32 at halftime.
Junior guard Jaylin Walker hit back-to-back triples and Zabo scored an and-one layup to tie the game between Kent State and CMU, 48-48, with 15:41 left in the game. On the ensuing offensive possession, Walker buried a mid-range jumper for a two-point Kent State lead.
“They cut that lead right away and it was basically a new ball game,” said sophomore guard David DiLeo. “We were playing even right from the first media timeout, then we went back-and-forth.”
With 13 minutes remaining in the game, Meyer picked up his fourth foul, forcing the Chippewas to go small for almost the entirety of the second half.
“I had four fouls, but wasn’t going to let up an easy layup because I had a chance to foul out,” Meyer said. “I just tried not to think about it and play as hard as I could without having silly mistakes.”
In spite of having four fouls, Meyer dropped in a 3-pointer with 8:48 left in the game. The triple gave CMU a 55-52 lead over the Golden Flashes.
Walker, who put up 26 points against CMU on Jan. 6, started to get hot from downtown, draining a 3-pointer to hand Kent State a 69-62 edge with 4:32 remaining in the second half.
Zabo took his time working on Roundtree with 1:27 left and dropped a spectacular step back 3-pointer in his eyes. With the triple, Kent State owned a 74-67 lead over CMU.
For Kent State, Zabo posted a team-high 22 points, along with logging two rebounds and three assists. Walker registered 21 points and eight rebounds.
In the final minute of the game, Kent State managed to go 10-for-12 from the free throw line to ice the game for an 84-76 victory.
“We are one or two possessions away from being a great team,” Meyer said. “We are solid right now, but just made some mistakes in crunch time.”
Meyer scored 15 points, adding five rebounds. DiLeo chipped in a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Williams put up 14 points and six rebounds.
The Chippewas remain at home for a battle against Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. on Jan. 30.
“We’ve struggled a little bit in starting games and the starting second half,” Davis said. “Starting the second half wasn’t where we wanted to be. Of all the things you need to try to do better, starting a half is something we can fix.”