Three Reign

Doug Gulasy

Fisher, Evans, Singletary pace Flashes to victory

WATCH video from Saturday’s game.

Men’s basketball coach Geno Ford knew all along his team would be tough to beat when the “Big Three” of Al Fisher, Tyree Evans and Chris Singletary played well.

Saturday night, Morehead State found out just how tough.

Senior guard Fisher and junior guards Evans and Singletary scored a combined 61 points to lead the Flashes to a 79-76, come-from-behind victory over Morehead State in the ESPN BracketBuster at the M.A.C. Center.

“I thought all three played well, in the second half in particular,” Ford said. “They made a big difference in the game.

“It’s been one of those years where different guys have stepped up … and tonight it happened to be Al, Chris and Tyree.”

For the second straight season, Fisher provided late-game heroics in the BracketBuster. Last season at St. Mary’s, Fisher scored a team-high 28 points, 16 in the second half, to lead the Flashes to a come-from-behind, 65-57 victory over the nationally ranked Gaels.

Saturday night, Fisher scored 17 of his team-high 27 points in the final 4:30 of the game to key a second-half comeback. Thirteen of those points came in a 16-2 run that turned a 59-63 deficit into a 75-65 lead.

With the Flashes clinging to a one-point lead during the run, Fisher got the ball on an inbound play, drove the lane and threw up a circus layup shot reminiscent of one he made late in the St. Mary’s game.

It went in, and Morehead State never got closer than within three points the rest of the way.

“It’s hard because you’re not going to be good every single night,” Ford said, “but when (Fisher’s) playing at a high level, he’s a difference maker.”

But while Fisher made the difference at the end of the game, Evans kept the Flashes (16-11) in the game early.

Evans scored 19 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the field and 5-of-9 from 3-point range. His 3-pointers kept the score close when it seemed Morehead State would otherwise put the game away.

“It felt like every other jump shot I take, but it just went in this time,” Evans said. “I was just confident, and the team needed me to step up. I came out playing defense first … (and) that’s what brought my offense.”

Singletary scored 15 points, but he made his biggest contribution on the defensive end.

Morehead State forward Leon Buchanan had his way with the Flashes’ defense for much of the game, scoring 31 points, but Singletary’s defense held him scoreless for the final eight minutes of the game.

“Chris stepped up in the huddle (during a timeout) and said he had (Buchanan) and he wasn’t going to score on him,” Ford said.

“Chris really did a good job on him – not necessarily that he shut him out, but that he got him out of rhythm and that the kid wasn’t able to just continually score.”

Combined, the Flashes’ three guards overcame Morehead State’s forward-center tandem of Buchanan (31 points, eight rebounds) and Kenneth Faried (17 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks). While the play of Buchanan and Faried silenced the crowd of 4,413 early, the play of Evans, Fisher, Singletary and the rest of the team brought the fans back in the second half.

Ford said the crowd made a difference in the final minutes, forcing Morehead State into turnovers.

“We need the fans to give us that motivation and keep the crowd going,” Evans said. “I love the fans out here.”

Saturday’s win was Kent State’s eighth in a row and the Flashes’ fourth straight in the 7-year-old BracketBuster event. The team will return to Mid-American Conference play Thursday night at Bowling Green.

“We’ve got to go to Bowling Green and find a way to win,” Ford said. “And it’s not going to be easy.”

Contact sports editor Doug Gulasy at [email protected].