Tyree and McKee for 3

Chris Gates

Flashes cruise to win behind 3-pointers, Toledo turnovers

View photos of the men’s basketball in action against the Toledo Rockets.

Less than three minutes into the second half, Kent State junior guard Chris Singletary stole the ball and was intentionally fouled by Toledo freshman guard Larry Bastfield, leaving Rockets coach Gene Cross kneeling on the sideline with his head in his hands.

Cross spent much of his time during the game in that position while watching his team surrender 20 turnovers in Kent State’s 81-53 win. The Flashes (11-11, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) converted those opportunities into 29 points in their best shooting night of the season (31-of-55).

“They smacked us in the mouth (and) we didn’t respond,” Cross said. “That opened the game up, and then they gained confidence from their defense.”

Kent State led 7-4 early, but quickly fell behind on a double foul situation to Singletary at the 15:34 mark of play. After being called for a hold, he was immediately given a technical foul for waving his hand at the referee.

Toledo senior guard Tyrone Kent made both of his free throws from the foul line, and then sophomore forward Justin Anyijong hit a 3-pointer off the inbound pass to put the Rockets (4-18, 2-6 MAC) ahead 9-7.

Their lead lasted until just under nine minutes to play in the first half when senior guard Al Fisher hit a 3-pointer. It put the Flashes ahead 16-15, and they never trailed again.

Kent State used its 3-point shooting to extend the first-half lead and found themselves ahead 41-25 at halftime. Junior guard Mike McKee went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, with his fourth going in just before time expired in the half.

“Mike was terrific,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “I thought he made a big step tonight.

“He was good in the ballgame and stretched the defense. Offense is easy if you hit 11 3s.”

Not much changed in the second half besides the hot 3-point shooter for the Flashes. Junior guard Tyree Evans took over for McKee and shot 3-of-4 from the 3-point line in the second half and 5-of-7 overall from the field. He finished the game as the team leader with 14 points.

In the four games prior to the Flashes’ current three-game winning streak, Evans was shooting 7-of-38 from the field. Since then, he is shooting 13-of-25.

“I was just in a slump,” Evans said. “My mind wasn’t focused. I wasn’t focused on basketball.

“I just told myself I have to be a team player and a leader and the shooting and scoring would come to me.”

It once was a trend for opposing coaches to voice their confidence and say the Flashes would eventually improve. After beating Toledo, the message was a little different.

“They’ve turned the corner,” Cross said. “Everybody in the MAC better watch out.”

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