KENT: Everything Kent State did to defeat Drexel in overtime Friday night, it did wrong in a lopsided loss to Temple on Tuesday afternoon.
Coming off the high of topping the Dragons in the season opener, the inexperienced Golden Flashes came crashing down four days later, losing to the Owls 80-66 at the M.A.C. Center in front of a national television audience as part of the ESPN Tip Off Marathon.
Despite erasing a 15-point first-half deficit and tying the score 46-46 on a contested fast-break dunk by sophomore point guard Kris Brewer five minutes into the second half, the Flashes (1-1) simply could not keep pace with the Owls (1-0).
“It was everything,” Brewer said. “Us [playing] together, talking on defense … it was a struggle.”
Brewer scored a career-high 19 points, and senior guards Chris Evans and Randal Holt contributed 17 and 11 points, respectively. But that same group also combined for 16 of KSU’s 21 turnovers (including a game-high eight by Evans) and just four of its 10 assists on 25 baskets.
KSU’s lack of consistent defense also had a hand in the coming out party of Temple’s Scootie Randall.
Randall, a senior guard/forward, burned the Flashes for career highs in points (31) and steals (four) in a 38-minute display of all-around dominance that also included five 3-pointers, four rebounds and two assists.
“We did not do a very good job guarding [Randall] in any aspect,” KSU coach Rob Senderoff said. “[Not] in transition and even when we were guarding him [in the half court] we were standing there with our hands down. We just gave him too many good looks. Thirty-one points? I mean, that’s a lot of points.”
Randall hadn’t played competitively in 20 months after sitting out all last season with a knee injury.
“Each and every play I thought about how hard I worked [to come back] and how hard [my teammates] pushed me and the things they said to me to keep [my spirits] up,” Randall said.
Temple opened the game on a scoring spree that included five 3-pointers and built its lead to 30-15. But the Flashes began to battle back late in the half and went on a 10-2 run that helped them cut the Owls’ lead to 40-32 at halftime.
But after Brewer’s dunk tied the score, the Flashes fell apart.
“We didn’t get the stops we needed,” Senderoff said. “We turned the ball over too many times. We weren’t about winning, we were a little bit too into ourselves. There was too much frustration and too much individual stuff. We can’t win that way, period.”
The Flashes shot just 37.3 percent in the game to the Owls’ 52.9. The Flashes also committed more turnovers 21-19. KSU did outrebound Temple 44-30, including a 20-5 advantage on the offensive end that led to a 20-4 advantage in second-chance points.
“We didn’t play in the first half the way we’re capable of playing for sure,” Senderoff said. “We were slow on every rotation, we didn’t take charges the way we did on Friday and we didn’t do a lot of things we did [against Drexel]. After halftime, our kids came out and gave a good effort to start the second half and tied the game. But at the end of the [game], we didn’t play the way we need to play to win. We didn’t play together enough on either end of the floor.”
The Flashes’ five-game, season-opening homestand continues when they host Chicago State at 7 p.m. Friday and Valparaiso at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Kent State blog at http://www.ohio.com/flashes. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.