KENT, Ohio – Kent State used another gritty effort to take an undefeated Mid-American Conference rival right down to the wire for the second home Saturday in a row.
Too many turnovers in the second half kept the Golden Flashes from closing the deal again in a 69-68 loss to Ohio University on Saturday night at the M.A.C. Center.
After a defensive stop with eight seconds to play, Kent State's Randal Holt raced down the floor and floated a five-foot runner towards the rim just before the buzzer.
The last-second bid for the victory missed just long.
"I had to get the ball and go and get the best shot available," said Holt. "It's just unfortunate it didn't go in. I got a very good luck. It just didn't drop."
Take away a few of Kent State's 13 second-half turnovers and the Golden Flashes' hopes may not have come down to that last shot.
"That's back-to-back Saturdays we've had two good teams come in here with a chance to win," said Senderoff. "We turned the ball over too many times in the second half. That goes without saying. The guys compete very hard. It's not easy to take a loss like this when they play that hard."
Chris Evans led Kent State with 20 points and seven assists. Holt added 14 points while fellow starters Darren Goodson and Kris Brewer chipped in 10 and eight points, respectively. Unfortunately, those four also combined for 15 of their team's 20 total turnovers.
Sloppy efforts have played a big part in the Golden Flashes' 0-3 start at home in MAC play. Saturday's loss dropped Kent State (11-9 overall) to 2-4 in the conference.
"It's tough," said Holt. "We still have a lot of games left to play. There is still a lot of season. We are going to come together and grind it out. We've got to find a way to get a win. Nobody said it was going to be easy. We've got to find a way to come together and dig deeper."
Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper led all scorers with 23 points. Reggie Keely added another 20 points for the Bobcats, who appeared to hold a comfortable 60-52 lead with 7:46 to play.
But that was before Kent State used a 13-2 run, highlighted by three-pointers from Evans and Devareaux Manley, to take a three-point lead into the final four minutes.
"We made a number of stops in a row … but then we had a couple of empty possessions," said Senderoff. "Most of the turnovers in the second half were unforced. When you are playing these games against very good teams, you have to play hard. That goes without saying. We did that … but you also have to play well. There are two parts to it."
Kent State returns to action on Wednesday with a trip to Northern Illinois.
"That is going to be a big game for us," said Senderoff. "That goes without saying. Last Saturday was a very tough loss for us that was similar in that we played incredibly hard and they made some very big plays."
The Golden Flashes responded from that frustrating loss to Akron with its worst effort of the year in its next game at Bowling Green.
Senderoff insisted another lackluster effort can not be repeated, "and I'm putting that on Randal Holt and Chris Evans," he said. "I'll be ready. I'm going to have our team ready. Our coaches are going to coach their butts off. But my seniors have to step up and make sure the team is focused and play as hard in Northern Illinois in a much different environment as we did tonight."