On Kent State men’s basketball senior night against Bowling Green State University, it was a junior who led the way.
Danny Pippen, just four days after being ejected from a game, led the Flashes with a career-high 24 points and made it a double-double with 10 rebounds.
The junior forward led Kent State to an 83-69 victory over a Falcons team that had come into the game as the top team in the Mid-American Conference.
Pippen fought hard all game and played through an apparent ankle injury suffered midway through the second half.
“Danny did a great job tonight,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “He was really on point tonight. He scored a lot of baskets inside, which helps us, and also made some huge threes like he always does.”
Pippen was ejected from Kent State’s last game at Ohio University after he committed a flagrant two and Senderoff talked about Pippen’s aggressive style.
“That is part of what makes him a good player,” he said. “He plays with a chip on his shoulder and he’s competitive. But you have to find a way to foster that competitiveness into not hurting yourself or the team.”
Senior guard Antonio “Booman” Williams was not to be outshined on his senior night. He had 22 points, six assists and three steals.
Williams said the fact that it was senior night and the Flashes had a short bench did not have an outsourced impact on how his team played.
“I feel like we came out and played the same [way] we been playing for a minute now,” Williams said. “I don’t feel like I need to do too much. Just get guys involved and playing the right way.”
Two players who stepped up to help get their seniors the win were freshman guard Giovanni Santiago (six points on 3-of-3 shooting) and junior forward Tervell Beck (15 points and five rebounds).
Santiago and Beck were asked to play in the place of sophomore guard Anthony Roberts, who missed the game with a groin injury, and senior guard CJ Williamson, who is suspended by the University, according to Senderoff.
“Gio [Santiago] came in and did a great job controlling the game,” Williams said. “He controlled his tempo and going at his own pace. [He] boosted out energy off the bench.”
Beck’s 15 points were a career high, as he filled in when senior Philip Whittington found himself in foul trouble early on.
He also grabbed a late rebound that Senderoff said “iced the game.”
“[Beck] made a lot of big plays for us and contributed in a really big way,” Senderoff said. “I am happy for him and I think obviously he just wanted, like everybody, to send our seniors out with a win on senior night.”
Kent State has had an up and down season, consisting of several winning and losing streaks, and the seniors helped hold the team together and overcome that adversity.
Tonight’s game was a culmination of that, as the Flashes dominated a team that was 12-4 in conference play.
“It’s always good going out with a win, especially against a number one team. But it felt good to do it with my brothers,” Williams said.
Whittington fouled out of the game late in the second half after scoring four points and getting six rebounds, but received applause throughout the M.A.C. Center as he left the court.
He had heartfelt words for his teammates and for Kent State, where he transferred after two years at the University of South Carolina Upstate.
“I am just happy we got the win on senior night; it is something I will remember for the rest of my life,” he said. “It has been a great two years; I enjoyed every moment and I made the right decision coming here.”
The Kent State seniors are Whittington, Williams, Williamson, guard Mitch Peterson and guard Troy Simons.
The Flashes face rival the University of Akron on Friday to close out the regular season and MAC Tournament play kicks off next Monday.
Owen MacMillan is an assigning editor. Contact him at email@example.com.