Flashes fall to Bucs in Naples Invitational championship game

Allen Moff
Record-Courier
Kent State junior guard Malique Jacobs scored 14 points in Wednesday night's loss to East Tennessee State in Naples, Fla.

Kent State cut a 19-point second-half deficit to two in the final minute, but couldn’t complete the comeback and fell to East Tennessee State 57-51 In the championship game of the Naples Invitational Wednesday night in Florida. 

The Golden Flashes (3-2) trailed the Bucs (4-2) 43-24 with 14:44 remaining, but whittled the deficit down to two points at 53-51 following a pair of free throws by junior guard Sincere Carry with 1:04 remaining. East Tennessee State managed only three field goals in the final eight minutes, but sophomore guard Jordan King connected on a jumper with 41 seconds left to make it a four-point game. 

Carry then missed a 3-pointer, and Bucs sophomore forward Charlie Weber hit two free throws with 20 seconds left to put the game away. 

“We battled back, cut it to one possession, then couldn’t get a stop,” said KSU head coach Rob Senderoff. “(King’s jumper) was a big play, but there were a lot of big plays. In the first half we didn’t finish, we turned the ball over incredibly carelessly. We just didn’t play well enough to win. Give them credit, they’re good, they’re tough. Disappointed that we weren’t able to play our best game.” 

After dishing out 33 assists while winning games in Florida the previous two days, the Flashes finished with just eight assists and 16 turnovers against East Tennessee State. 

Carry led Kent State with 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. He also collected nine rebounds, four assists and two steals. Junior guard Malique Jacobs shot 6-of-10 from the field for 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, recording his first double-double in his second season with the Flashes. No other Kent State player scored more than six points. 

King led the Bucs with 14 points, followed by senior guard David Sloan with 12. 

Here are three points from Tuesday night’s contest. 

Fatigue factor 

Both teams were playing their third game in three nights in the opening month of the season, and it showed. They both struggled through numerous lengthy scoring droughts in both halves, and neither team could find the range from 3 all night long. Kent State shot 4-of-23 from deep (17 percent), while East Tennessee State went 6-of-24 from beyond the arc (25 percent). 

“There’s a lot of factors that played into that,” said Senderoff “Both teams were playing very hard, both teams are pretty good defensive teams. Three games in three days, especially when in every one of them you’re competing to try to win a championship down here, that’s taxing on you. Mental fatigue, physical fatigue, that certainly impacted the shooting I'm sure.”  

Two-man show 

Carry and Jacobs accounted for 35 of Kent State’s 57 points, 21 of its 28 rebounds, five of its eight assists and nine of its 16 turnovers. In Tuesday’s 77-69 victory over George Washington, seven Flashes scored seven or more points. 

Aside from Carry and Jacobs, the rest of the team shot 6-of-24 from the field (25 percent) on Wednesday.

“The other guys just didn’t play well," said Senderoff. "They got some shots, every one of them. We’ve got to have more guys come to play and play well. That’s part of getting better as a team.”  

Sophomore guard Jeremiah Hernandez scored six of Kent State’s eight points off the bench, hitting a pair of 3s in five attempts. 

“I thought (Hernandez) gave us a spark,” said Senderoff. “He played hard. He helped us.” 

Bucs win the hustle stats 

Senderoff pointed to several non-shooting stats that he believed made the difference in the game. 

“We got outrebounded (38-28). We needed to make some more toughness plays at the rim. They went to the free-throw line eight more times, made six more free throws than us. They had six more offensive rebounds than us,” said Senderoff. “We’ll get better. We’ve got to play a little smarter, and we’ve got to get a lot tougher.” 

Next: Kent State will take some time off for Thanksgiving before returning to action next Tuesday against Point Park at the M.A.C. Center. 

“Overall this was a good trip. We learned a lot about ourselves. We got better," said Senderoff. "We need to grow from here."