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By Allen Moff | Staff Writer
Opinions differed about exactly what key element was missing from Kent State’s effort during Tuesday’s 80-66 loss to Temple in an ESPN’s 24 Hours of Basketball Marathon matchup at the M.A.C. Center.
Sophomore point guard Kris Brewer said it was energy.
Senior guard Chris Evans said it was execution.
Head coach Rob Senderoff said it was team unity and selflessness.
They all agreed that the same gritty Golden Flashes squad that upset Drexel in last Friday’s season opener did not show up against the Owls.
“As good and as well as I thought we played on Friday against Drexel, we were equally as poor in a lot of aspects today,” said Senderoff. “We weren’t all about winning today. We were a little bit into ourselves. We didn’t play the way we need to play to win.”
The defending Atlantic 10 champion Owls (1-0) shot 52 percent from the field, while the Flashes (1-1) shot just 37 percent and committed 21 turnovers — including 16 by starting guards Evans (8), Brewer (4) and senior Randal Holt (4).
“I can’t turn it over eight times and expect us to win the game,” said Evans.
They also won’t win many when giving up 31 points to a guy who hadn’t played in a year and a half.
Temple senior guard Scootie Randall, who sat out all of last season due to a knee injury, enjoyed a comeback party at Kent State’s expense. He scored a career-high 31 points and buried five 3-pointers, several of which came at crucial times when the Flashes were attempting to rally.
“We did not do a good job of guarding him in any aspect,” said Senderoff. “We gave him too many good looks.”
Randall scored seven straight points, including his first 3-pointer, to give Temple a quick 10-4 edge. The advantage reached 15, and the Flashes seemed on the verge of getting blown out of their own building before Evans fueled a late first-half run with a three-point play, an assist and a scoop shot with seven seconds left that brought Kent State within 40-32 at halftime.
A follow-dunk by Evans and a steal and one-handed slam by Brewer tied the game at 46 with just under 16 minutes remaining. But Randall answered with another 3-pointer, and this one put Temple ahead to stay.
The Flashes’ burst of energy soon died down, and the Owls slowly pulled away. A 3-pointer by Jake O’Brien pushed the lead to 61-51 with 10:12 left, and the cushion stayed in double-digits the rest of the way.
“We just didn’t come out with the same energy as last game,” said Brewer. “Coach said everybody was in to (himself), but I really didn’t see that. We just didn’t play ‘D’ that well. That’s it. The whole game. It was just a struggle today.”
Brewer scored a career-high 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field to lead the Flashes.
“I think Kris is establishing that he’s a pretty good player. But I’m sure he’s not happy; he only had one assist and four turnovers,” said Senderoff. “I don’t think anybody really played the way we need them to play for us to win. We had too many defensive breakdowns, too many turnovers, too much one-on-one stuff.”
Evans finished with 17 points and seven rebounds — including six on the offensive glass. The Flashes grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, helping them build a 20-4 edge in second-chance points that helped keep them in the game for a while.
Holt added 11 points for Kent State.
“We’ll digest what happened and hopefully get better. It’s a long season,” said Senderoff. “It’s a new team, and there’s going to be some growing pains. As excited and happy as we were after the win against Drexel, I would hope we’re equally as disappointed with how we played today.
“You can’t get it back. You’ve just gotta move on.”
— Temple senior guard Khalif Wyatt, the Atlantic 10’s top returning scorer (17.1 ppg), was limited to 17 minutes due to a hamstring injury and finished with nine points.
— Flashes junior Melvin Tabb grabbed eight rebounds off the bench, as Kent State outboarded Temple 44-30.
— Kent State returns to action Friday, hosting Chicago State at 7 p.m.