Grizzlies stall Flashes at 19 wins

Chris Gates

Oakland bounces Kent State from postseason

Senior guard Al Fisher attempts a three-pointer. Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Junior guard Chris Singletary scrambles for a loose ball during the second half of last night’s game against Oakland University. Singletary fouled out of his second straight game in the 74-80 loss. Daniel R. Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

The streak has officially ended.

The Kent State men’s basketball team traveled to Oakland for the first round of the Postseason Tournament and lost 80-74, snapping the program’s streak of 10 straight seasons of 20 wins or more.

After being bounced from the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Thursday, the team didn’t know if it would get another chance to extend the streak. Once it was announced that the Flashes were going to get that chance, the senior class wanted to make sure the streak didn’t end on their watch.

That’s what made this loss so hard for the team.

“We had one more chance to get to 20 wins, and we lost,” senior guard Al Fisher said. “Everybody’s mad. There’s no reason why we should have lost that game.

“We (had) a tradition going here. As seniors, we just didn’t want it to end in general. We wanted the tradition to keep going. I guess it just wasn’t for us to win.”

Kent State was the better of the two teams in the first half and went in to halftime leading 40-27. However, Oakland came out in the second half on a tear and used the 3-point shot to gain momentum.

Senior guard Erik Kangas led Oakland with 23 points, shooting 4-of-7 from behind the arc in the second half. All four came in the opening nine minutes of the half.

That and exposing the Flashes’ weaknesses, Kent State coach Geno Ford said, deflated his team.

“No. 1, Kangas really got a hot hand from 3, which we knew he could do,” Ford said. “And we unfortunately were ourselves … to start the second half, the first four minutes we did nothing but miss layups and free throws.”

Kent State led 43-29 nearly four minutes in to the second half. However, over the next 4:30, Oakland went on an 18-4 run to tie the game.

The run didn’t end there as the Grizzlies continued to score. They built their biggest lead with 3:44 remaining, leading 71-59.

“They came out hitting their shots,” Fisher said. “We just didn’t have that same mentality. We were up (by) 13 (points). There’s no reason we should have lost that game.”

The Flashes started the first half strong, opening up an early 10-6 lead with 16:06 to play. They did so with four points from both senior forward Julian Sullinger and junior forward Anthony Simpson.

Oakland worked its way back in to the game and took a 24-22 lead with 4:36 left. From that point, the Flashes went on an 18-3 run, capped off by four straight points from senior guard Jordan Mincy to stretch the halftime score to 40-27.

After the win, Oakland coach Greg Kampe pointed out that beating Kent State – a team with a history of winning – was a big step for his team.

“We just beat the standard of the MAC,” Kampe said. “Kent State has won 20 games 10 years in a row. They’ve been the standard for basketball in the MAC for the last decade.”

Contact principal sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].