The Kennesaw State men’s basketball team played twice last week, falling 70-58 at home to Florida Gulf Coast University on Thursday, Feb. 13, before losing 59-42 to Stetson on Saturday.
Entering the game, KSU and FGCU were the bottom two teams of the Atlantic Sun Conference standings. With the loss, the Owls fell to a record of 1-23 overall and 0-11 in conference play.
KSU started the game scoring in its opening possession and took an early lead. Both offenses found success in the game’s first 10 minutes, but KSU maintained its lead for most of the half. Things started clicking for the Owls with eight minutes remaining, as the team regained the lead with a 9-0 run.
After holding off a late push by the Eagles, KSU entered halftime with a 27-26 lead. A costly KSU shot clock violation with 1.5 seconds left in the half gave FGCU a chance to knock down a three-pointer to cut the lead to one. The Owls shot 44 percent as a team in the first half, and Lockley had seven points and six rebounds.
“I thought they felt good [leading at halftime],” KSU head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said after the game. “You know, we worked hard — they did a good job having the lead. I thought we didn’t execute defensively the last play, and I thought that took some momentum away from us going into the half.”
Coming out of the locker room to start the second half, the Owls kept the same intensity on both the offensive and defensive sides. However, troubles began to arise for KSU when a lack of defensive rebounds gave FGCU multiple chances to put points on the board.
“The thing we learned was we [have] to rebound for 40 minutes,” Abdur-Rahim said. “If we do that, we are going to put ourselves in a good place, if we don’t then it gives them energy and gives them another chance to get a shot.”
In the second half, FGCU regained the lead by knocking down three three-pointers in quick succession. Afterwards, the Owls fought an uphill battle to climb back into the game.
The game was ultimately decided in the rebounding column, as FGCU totaled 41 boards compared to KSU’s 23. FGCU was able to take 12 offensive rebounds, which gave the team several second-or-third chances on the offensive end.
Despite being able to score throughout the game, KSU could not make necessary defensive stops in the end. Despite the loss, the team showed promise as several of its young players stepped up to make contributions.
“We don’t really have a choice right now [to play young players], due to injuries and stuff like that,” Abdur-Rahim said. “For us, it’s important to have five guys on the court that want to be one, that want to be one heartbeat and one unit.”
Over the weekend, the Owls traveled to DeLand, Florida, to take on Stetson University on Saturday, Feb. 15. Stetson won the contest 59-42, and KSU moved to 0-12 in ASUN competition. The Owls struggled in the first half, scoring just 18 points to Stetson’s 32. Senior guard Tyler Hooker led the team with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Next up, KSU will visit ASUN opponent North Alabama on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m.