KENT — Ohio did everything it could to shut down Jaylin Walker.
Turns out Kent State was just fine while Walker struggled for most of the game.
The Bobcats chased Walker, the Mid-American Conference’s leading scorer, around the floor all night, but he still managed to exceed his average. The guard had 23 points on Tuesday, and the Golden Flashes found a way to beat the Bobcats 78-73 inside the M.A.C. Center.
Ohio’s Antonio Cowart Jr., who Ohio coach Saul Phillips calls one of the best defenders in the country, defended Walker, and made his life hard for 40 minutes. Teyvion Kirk guarded him, too. The Flashes (20-8, 9-6 MAC) beat the Bobcats down in the paint, though; they out-rebounded the Bobcats by six and had 12 more points in the paint.
After upsetting Bowling Green in Athens on Friday, the Bobcats (12-15, 4-11 MAC) shot over 50 percent from the field for the second consecutive game. But even with the hot shooting, Ohio couldn’t overcome the team effort by Kent State.
Walker didn’t have to do everything for the Flashes — until the closing minutes. His acrobatic 3-pointers highlighted his ability to shoot over anyone guarding him as the second half wore on.
With Walker heavily defended and nobody open late in the game, it was Jalen Avery who hit a 3 with 25 seconds left to give Kent State a four-point lead, sealing the win to give them 20 on the season.
The Bobcats haven’t won a road game since Jan. 12. They’ve won two road games all season.
Ohio shot well in the first half and finished the opening 20 minutes with a 52.2 shooting percentage from the floor. The Bobcats started the game slowly, but recovered to challenge the Golden Flashes for much of the first half, and they trailed 35-31 at the break despite holding Walker to five points.
Seven first half turnovers didn’t help the Bobcats. The Golden Flashes had 24 points in the paint, while the Bobcats only had 14, which played a role in the half. Kent State out-rebounded Ohio 18-13 as well.
- Kent State had nine offensive rebounds — in the first half.
- Ohio had just 10 fast break points.
- The Bobcats only had four second half turnovers.
- Flashes coach Rob Senderoff is 10-7 against Ohio since he arrived at Kent State.