With 5:17 left in Kent State v. Ohio Univesity men’s basketball game, Danny Pippen walked off the floor, staring staight ahead into the visitor’s locker room.
The officials handed Pippen a flagrant two for elbowing Ohio’s Sylvester Ogbanda in the chest, following a missed free throw.
The foul saw the removal of one of Kent State’s emotional and scoring leaders in a close loss.
Kent State fell 76-69 in Athens, Ohio, on Friday night.
The Flashes fall to 18-11, 8-8 Mid-American Conference, and the Bobcats (15-14, 7-9 MAC) close in on the fourth place position in the MAC East.
The game was decided largely by the Bobcats (15-14, 7-9 MAC) shooting 25-32 from the free throw line, while Kent State shot only 16 from the line.
“That was a big key,” coach Rob Senderoff said. “We can’t send a team to the line 32 times and expect to win. Some of those were late, in the last 30 seconds, but there were way too many over the course of the game.”
Senderoff himself received a technical foul in the first half while arguing a call made against junior forward Tervell Beck.
No foul was bigger than the one given to Pippen though.
Pippen had nine points and three rebounds at the time he fouled out, but averages nearly 14 and seven in those categories, meaning the Flashes lost one of their top weapons.
Kent State came into the game already down a major offensive producer after sophomore guard Anthony Roberts injured his groin during pregame warmups.
In the Flashes’ first matchup against OU, Roberts set a career high of 21, which he then broke just one week later against the University at Buffalo, with 23.
Leading Kent State in scoring was senior guard Antonio “Booman” Williams, who tried to continue to rally the team after Pippen was walked off.
Williams would finish with five assists, seven rebounds and 22 points, but struggled defensively when he got switched onto OU big-men like forward Ben Vander Plas, who finished with 20 points.
“[Williams] played as hard as he could, man, I have no issue,” Senderoff said. “He played 40 minutes; they have just got big bodies in there and they did a good job.”
Also playing all 40 minutes of the game was another senior guard, Troy Simons, who scored 11 points on 4-11 shooting.
Simons was able to drain a trio of 3’s, but was unable to hit any more as the Ohio defense closed out on him and chased him off the three-point line.
Senderoff referred back to OU’s size multiple times, and the Bobcats did use that inside effectively, but only outscored Kent State in the paint 32-30.
Playing inside the paint for the Flashes was senior forward Philip Whittington.
Whittington had 10 points and team highs of eight rebounds and two blocks before he fouled out trying to stop the clock late in the game.
Beck filled in for Pippen both before and after the ejection, and finished with five points and five rebounds.
Ohio committed fouls of its own (17 to Kent State’s 22), but was better about not sending Flashes to the foul line, and Kent State scored only 13 points off of free throws.
But that difference in scoring from the line and inside was enough to tilt the scales, and OU handed Kent State its eighth conference loss.
Kent State’s last games before the MAC tournament do not get any easier, as the Flashes go on the road next week against MAC East-leading Bowling Green State University and rival, the University of Akron.
Owen MacMillan is a sports reporter. Contact him at email@example.com.