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Kent State Outlasts Ball State in Physical Struggle

The Cardinals stunned the Flashes out of the gate, but a big second half rally sparked by Darren Goodson saved the day for Kent State.

Darren Goodson came up huge with 23 points off the bench to save the Flashes.
Darren Goodson came up huge with 23 points off the bench to save the Flashes.
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Goodson has been the center of criticism around the recent struggles of this Golden Flashes team. Those criticisms don't go unwarranted either. Goodson was less than stellar in the month of December and actually started off on the bench for the Flashes. Last night a more focused Darren Goodson took the floor and he made the plays that ultimately won Kent State the game. He didn't try to do too much like he certainly has tried to do in the past. I've been harsh on him this last month but I will give credit where credit is due and Darren Goodson saved Kent State last night.

It wasn't that simple however. Ball State entered this game at 3-9 but was better than their record with a couple of close losses to respectable teams. Majok Majok got the Cardinals off to a very hot start. Ball State would lead 15-7 early on with ten of those points coming from Majok. The Cardinals would continue to give Kent State fits for the rest of the half and take the lead 39-32 going into halftime.

The tide in this contest changed about halfway through the second half when Chris Ortiz hit back-to-back layups and a free throw to accompany both to ignite a 19-2 Kent State run. Ball State was held scoreless for nearly four minutes.

What has hurt the Flashes in the past was an inability to finish, however that was not the case tonight. Aside from a missed Kellon Thomas layup, the Flashes were perfect from the field in the last 5 minutes scoring 15 points and sealing the deal in an 86-74 victory.

Even though this won't be an easy loss to swallow, Ball State is not going to be an easy out in the MAC. Majok Majok is as good a player the Flashes will see in the MAC and Mark Alstork is a force as well as he put up a double-double in this contest. Ball State has not been able to finish games but if they can keep Majok out of foul trouble and healthy and shoot the ball collectively well as a unit, they won't lose a lot of games.

For Kent State, this game was extremely promising. Not only did they finish the game strong, but they shot the ball incredibly well. Forget the fact that Ball State was 3-9 coming into this game. The Cardinals shot 51% and hit 44% of their threes. They only missed five free throws. It doesn't matter who you play. If a team shoots the ball that well, it's going to be tough to win. The Flashes would shoot 52% from the field and 42% from behind the line.

Another positive was Goodson. Goodson has really struggled recently as well as some other important pieces such as Kris Brewer and Darren Jackson who scored 18 and 12 points respectively. Overall it was a tremendous team effort with nine guys contributing. Even Khaliq Spicer who only added seven minutes due to foul troubles, found his way onto the stat sheet with four rebounds.

On top of all that, the crowd at the MAC Center was electric tonight and broke out into a fever pitch twice. I'm not mailing home the season after a win against a team that was 3-9, but as a Kent State fan, there is reason to be optimistic.