A Singletary statement

Chris Gates

Junior leads team to road victory

Junior guard Chris Singletary shoots during the second half of the Flashes’ game against Ball State. Singletary led the team with 19 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Kent State defeated Ball State 63-56. Katie Roupe | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Until Saturday afternoon, junior guard Chris Singletary was having a rather disappointing start to the Mid-American Conference schedule.

In eight games, he was averaging fewer than eight points per game and shooting 24-of-67 – just under 36 percent.

He changed all of that against Ball State, scoring 19 points to lead the Kent State men’s basketball team (12-11, 5-4 Mid-American Conference) to a 63-56 victory.

“Chris Singletary was just a man around the basket and was able to not only catch it in there and finish, but he found Julian Sullinger in there,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “Those guys really shot a high percentage on (chip shots) around the basket.

“That was probably the difference in the game.”

Sullinger finished close behind Singletary in scoring for the game with 13 points. The two were effective shooting the ball inside – Sullinger shot 6-of-8 and Singletary shot 8-of-11 – and created open space for each other underneath the basket.

Senior guard Al Fisher suffered through illness and foul trouble throughout the game and played just 22 minutes – his lowest amount of playing time in a single game all season. Singletary stepped up in Fisher’s absence and took over the leadership role.

“Earlier in the year our team would never have been tough enough or mature enough,” Ford said. “We would’ve gotten blown out if Al didn’t play well. Now we have shown that maybe we’ve got a little more toughness than we had earlier in the year.”

Ball State opened the first half with two 3-pointers, leading to a 9-6 lead just three and a half minutes into the game. Ford then decided to substitute junior guard Tyree Evans into the game, leading to a 19-0 Kent State run and a commanding 25-9 lead with 8:56 remaining in the half.

Kent State shot as well as Ford could have asked for in the first half, connecting on 63 percent of its attempts from the field. In doing so, the Flashes gave themselves enough of a cushion to hold off an equally impressive second half by the Cardinals.

After the teams traded baskets for the first two minutes of the period, Ball State went on a run of its own. It lasted six minutes and the Cardinals outscored Kent State 16-1, closing the Flashes’ lead to just four points at 46-42.

“It was a big roller coaster,” senior forward Julian Sullinger said. “We kind of let their fans get into it. We came out a little lackadaisical on defense.

“Our defense turns in to our offense. If we don’t play well defensively, offensively we kind of get into a groove where we’re not really getting good shots. I think (in) the second half we didn’t come out ready to guard.”

However, four points was as close as Kent State would allow the game to get. The Flashes pushed the lead back to as many as 10 points before the final buzzer rang.

“You get a lead on the road and it’s human nature when you’re up 16 to try not to give the lead away,” Ford said. “It doesn’t matter what you tell kids. They’re still out there and they’re playing tentative.

“We knew they’d make a run and throw a big punch in the second half.”

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