Zach Maciaszek, For the Miami Student

Miami sophomore guard Willie Moore (Ben Taylor | The Miami Student)

His team mired in a four-game losing streak and in search of a much-needed jolt, head coach John Cooper inserted little-used seven-foot sophomore center John Hawkins into the starting lineup.

Unfortunately for the Miami University men’s basketball team (9-15, 5-8 MAC), the change in the rotation did not result in a change in the team’s poor play, as it fell to Kent State University (15-11, 6-7 MAC) 75-63.

The loss is MU’s fifth in a row.

Employing a zone defense, which they have increasingly used as the season has progressed, the RedHawks sank back in the paint and dared Kent State to beat them from the outside. The Golden Flashes obliged, pouring in 15 3-pointers.

Kent State’s junior guard Kris Brewer came off the bench to score a game-high 25 points. He nailed all seven of his 3-point attempts.

“Brewer really got them going,” Cooper said. “He made shots and we could not control him. As I always say, ‘we let him get out of the barn and he was running wild and we couldn’t get him back in.'”

Senior guard Quinten Rollins said Miami had a difficult time handling the versatility of Kent State’s wing players.

“They’ve got players who can shoot the 3, mid-range and get to the hole,” Rollins said. “If we close out too short, they’re going to raise and take the 3 on you, but you don’t want to close out too long because then they’re going to drive by you so it’s sort of a catch-22.”

The ‘Hawks shot the ball relatively well at 47.6 percent. However, they managed only 42 shot attempts to Kent State’s 54, as they turned the ball over 15 times and garnered only eight assists.

Senior forward Will Felder scored a team-high 23 points for the RedHawks. Sophomore guards Willie Moore and Geovonie McKnight tied for second with 12 points apiece.

Cooper admonished his team for its lack of ball movement and failure to maintain possession of the ball.

“[We had] careless turnovers,” Cooper said. “You can’t have eight assists and 15 turnovers. Not if you expect to be successful … no disrespect to Kent, but they didn’t show their pressure necessarily. There were turnovers where … we weren’t thinking very much.”

Both teams struggled from the onset, as the game was tied 2-2 after five minutes of play. As the first half rolled on, the Flashes built a 21-11 lead with 6:10 remaining. The RedHawks closed the gap slightly as play continued, and they found themselves down 28-22 heading into the locker room.

The gap between the ‘Hawks and the Flashes widened into a gulf in the second half. Kent State embarked on a 21-9 run to open the second period, giving them a 49-31 lead with 13:30 remaining. MU employed its full-court press in an effort to get back into the game, but it was to no avail as Kent maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

Cooper’s move to relegate freshman forward Josh Oswald to the bench in favor of Hawkins proved to be ineffective. Hawkins’ impact was minimal: He went scoreless and grabbed just one rebound in nine minutes of play.

Cooper said he made the move in an attempt to give Miami more size on the court, as its lack of length has plagued them all season long.

“I thought his size could help us,” Cooper said. “We’re fighting with our size so much throughout games. Even if he doesn’t block shots, just the mere presence of his size, being able to get his arms up and challenge guys [helps us].”

The Red and White will look to stop their free-fall out of the Mid-American Conference race against Bowling Green University (11-14, 6-7 MAC) Sunday.

The Falcons boast a balance scoring attack, which features a trio of players averaging 13 points. Junior forward Richaun Holmes leads the way at 13.6 points, followed closely by sophomore forward Spencer Parker and junior guard Jehvon Clarke at 13 points apiece.

Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.