Foul trouble plagues Flashes in quarterfinal loss against Buffalo

Chris Gates

Senior guard Al Fisher pulls his jersey over his head in disbelief as the final buzzer sounds in the Flashes’ quartfinal loss to Buffalo. Fisher had nine points and six rebounds but was 2-of-14 from the floor in the Flashes’ 65-62 loss. Daniel R. Doherty

Credit: DKS Editors

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The 20-win streak is over, but this team earned respect

Without junior guard Chris Singletary, the Kent State men’s basketball team had managed to survive its past two games, winning both in the final minute of play.

But with Singletary back in the lineup for Thursday’s Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinal game against Buffalo, the Flashes weren’t quite as lucky, losing 65-62.

Singletary was on and off the floor all afternoon with foul trouble, eventually fouling out with 13 points after just 14 minutes of playing time.

“Chris really had it going, but he spent too much time beside me,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “We’re not going to beat a good team with Chris Singletary playing 14 minutes. It’s not going to happen very often.”

Senior forward Julian Sullinger fouled out, playing just 14 minutes as well. With Singletary being the Flashes best finisher around the basket and Sullinger being their most dominant post presence, Kent State was forced to rely on its outside shooting.

That didn’t work well for the Flashes (19-14), as they shot just 5-of-16 from 3-point range.

Buffalo had no such problems shooting 3-pointers early on. The Bulls shot 5-of-7 from behind the arc in the first half, opening up a 25-15 lead on a 3 by freshman forward Titus Robinson with 6:30 remaining in the half.

Kent State didn’t let the lead grow any larger, as the Flashes went on a 15-6 run to close the first half and pull within one point of the Bulls at 31-30. Two 3-pointers by junior guard Mike McKee near the end of the run helped give the Flashes all the momentum going in to halftime.

When the second half started, Kent State tried to keep the first-half momentum going. However, Singletary and Sullinger each earned their third fouls in the first 1:09 of the half. Singletary saw just four minutes the rest of the half, and Sullinger played only six.

Both teams combined for just 11 points in the first five minutes of the half, with Kent State leading 37-36. The Flashes continued to hold a slim lead, never breaking ahead by more than three points.

“It was frustrating,” senior guard Jordan Mincy said. “We worked so hard. We were just trying to get that one steal, that one big play to kind of change the momentum of the game. We just couldn’t come up with it.”

Buffalo eventually took the lead on an alley-oop from senior guard Greg Gamble to freshman forward Mitchell Watt. After two free-throws by senior guard Al Fisher, Watt got the ball again and hit a layup, giving the Bulls a 54-53 advantage with 5:39 to play.

Fisher, who scored just nine points on 2-of-14 shooting, did all he could to get the lead back. However, he missed layups on back-to-back possessions while it was still a one-possession game. The misses came just before and just after the three-minute mark and seemed to mark the end of a Kent State comeback attempt.

“(Al) couldn’t buy one,” Ford said. “They did do a good job guarding him; there’s no question.

“Tonight he just couldn’t get one to drop. It was a tough day for him.”

With 7.5 seconds left, the Flashes had one final chance, trailing 65-62. Senior guard Jordan Mincy inbounded to Fisher, who had the ball knocked off him and out of bounds by Buffalo senior guard Andy Robinson.

After the final buzzer rang, the teams walked to the sidelines to shake hands. Fisher pulled his jersey over his head in disbelief.

“This is going to be the last time I get to play with them (and) under these coaches,” Fisher said.” Out of everywhere I’ve been, this is the only spot that actually made me feel like I had another family.”

Contact principal sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected]