The Times West Virginian

December 30, 2012

Falcons visit D-1 Kent State tonight


Staff and Kent State Reports

FAIRMONT — Fairmont State’s men’s basketball team faces its biggest challenge yet this evening.

The 5-2 Falcons, fresh off an impressive league win at Charleston two weeks ago, travel to Division I Kent State for a regular season game at the M.A.C. Center.

The contest, scheduled for a 7 p.m. start, is the nightcap of a Sunday doubleheader that will feature the Kent State women’s team hosting Robert Morris (Pa.)

It is the first meeting between the schools, and Golden Flashes head coach Rob Senderoff knows the Falcons aren’t your typical D2 pushover.

“Fairmont State is a very good Division II team,” he said. “Stith is a Division I transfer from St. John’s who is probably the fastest guard we have played this season. They have a four man who originally signed at St. Bonaventure. They have a guy returning at the wing named Isaac Thornton, who averaged 21 per game for them last year. They have an NAIA All-American transfer at the five.

“They are very fast, very athletic and have the ability to score a lot of points. Jerrod Calhoun is a Cleveland native in his first year as their head coach, and he coached under Bob Huggins at West Virginia. He has brought in a lot of transfers and new players who are very, very good. This is going to be a really big challenge for us. We are going to have to play very well.”

Stith is averaging 14.3 points and 4.0 assists per game this season for an up-tempo offense that has averages 87.1 points per game.

Junior Brendan Cooper, a transfer from Ohio’s Lakeland Community College and native of Parma, leads the Falcons at 18.4 points per game and is one of five players averaging double digits this season. He is one of seven Ohio natives on this year’s FSU roster.

Kent State enters play at 7-5 and on a two-game home win streak following victories over St. Francis (Pa.) and Arkansas State. The Golden Flashes also own wins against Drexel and Nebraska this season.

Kent State’s two seniors, 6-8 forward Chris Evans (16.1 points per game) and 6-1 guard Randal Holt (13.4), have combined to average 29.5 points per game, which accounts for 41.6 percent of the Golden Flashes’ scoring. It is the third highest-scoring duo in the Mid-American Conference this season, trailing Rian Pearson and Julius Brown of Toledo and Jordon Crawford and A’uston Calhoun of Bowling Green.  

Holt knocked down three 3-pointers last week against Arkansas State to move ahead of 2012 Olympian Nate Reinking for fourth all-time at Kent State (186).

Kent State went 21-12 last season, the first under Senderoff, a longtime assistant at the school. The Golden Flashes last made the NCAA Tournament in 2008 and reached the Elite Eight back in 2002.