Men’s basketball wins in double-overtime thriller

Chris Gates

Fisher leads Flashes in scoring at NIU for fifth-straight win

Shooting at a high percentage and taking care of the basketball had been major reasons for the Kent State men’s basketball team’s four-game winning streak going into yesterday’s game at Northern Illinois.

The Flashes (13-11, 6-4 Mid-American Conference) did neither of those last night at Northern Illinois, but made enough plays to win 86-83 in double overtime and push the winning streak to five games.

In a game where 63 fouls were called, many of those plays were made at the free-throw line. The Flashes made their first big play at the line at the end of regulation.

Senior guard Al Fisher was fouled by Northern Illinois sophomore guard Darion Anderson on his way to the basket. Fisher went 1-for-2 from the line, making the score 67-65 with 0:17 to play.

On the ensuing inbounds play, junior guard Mike McKee stole the pass and was fouled. McKee went to the line, a place he had been only 11 times all year, and hit both free throws to tie the game at 67-67 and send it into overtime.

Then in the first overtime period, with a 72-71 lead with 0:18 remaining and Northern Illinois having possession, Fisher stole the ball and knocked it off the opposition out of bounds.

Junior forward Anthony Simpson received the inbounds pass and was fouled, making both free throws and giving the Flashes the lead, 74-71. They were crucial points as Huskies freshman guard Mike DiNunno ran down the floor and hit a 3-pointer just two steps inside the half-court line to tie the game as time expired.

Then in double-overtime and trailing 82-81 with 0:21 left, junior guard Tyree Evans hit two free throws to put the Flashes ahead 83-82. That was the lead the Flashes never gave up.

Kent State turned the ball over 33 times while shooting 23-of-59 from the field. The performance at the foul line, a 35-of-44 effort, was what kept the Flashes in the game and allowed them to eventually pull out the win.

After trailing 30-28 at halftime, Kent State went on a 9-2 run to open the second half, capped off by a 3-pointer from junior guard Chris Singletary. The Flashes then led 37-32 just 2:19 in to the second half, their largest lead since a 5-0 start in the first half.

Kent State started the first half shooting the ball well. Fisher hit his first two shots of the game to give the Flashes an early 5-0 lead. That, however, was as big of a lead as they would get in the opening frame.

DiNunno kept the Huskies close with two 3-pointers, both coming with his team trailing by three. His eight points led Northern Illinois in scoring for the half.

Northern Illinois took advantage of sloppy play by Kent State for the majority of the first half, keeping the game close. With 7:50 remaining in the half the Flashes led 20-18, but had eight turnovers to Northern Illinois’ four.

At that point the Flashes held a significant advantage shooting the ball, shooting 50 percent from the floor compared to the Huskies’ mark of 35 percent.

That number changed greatly as the half wound down. Though Kent State had just three turnovers in the final eight minutes, they shot 4-for-14 in that span, allowing Northern Illinois to take the lead going in to halftime, 30-28.

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