Flashes drop two six-point decisions at South Padre tourney

Chris Gates

Team falls to Illinois, Texas A&M in Texas

The Kent State men’s basketball team (3-2) traveled to South Padre Island, Texas, over the Thanksgiving weekend and found its unlucky number: six.

On Friday, the Flashes played Illinois to a six-point overtime loss, 69-63, and lost to Texas A&M on Saturday by that same number, 77-71.

What was most frustrating for the team is it had the lead late in the second half of both games. Illinois trailed for nearly the entire second half, claiming its first lead with 33 seconds left.

Against Texas A&M, the Flashes went through 11 second-half lead changes and 10 ties. The Aggies claimed their final lead with 1:44 remaining in the game.

“It’s two straight games against teams from upper divisions that we had a chance to win,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “We had the lead with three minutes to go (against A&M) and couldn’t get a stop when we needed one. Then some missed free throws came up and bit us.



Texas A&M 56

Tulsa 67

Tulsa beat Texas A&M with a 25-4 run to start the second half after a one-point lead at halftime. The Aggies were held without a field goal for more than 11 minutes to start the second half, netting its first shot with 8:13 remaining. Junior guard Ben Uzoh led Tulsa with 16 points in the win.


Tulsa 44

Illinois 48

Sophomore center Mike Tisdale was clutch late in the game against Tulsa, just as he was against the Flashes. He hit a jumper with 1:15 left to put the Illini up by two and sunk a 15-footer to increase the lead to four for the win. A very close game throughout – neither team led by more than five in either half.

“We really wore down in the second half (against Illinois). Their size around the basket prevented us from scoring the ball down in the post.”

The Flashes nearly started the tournament with an upset victory over Illinois. Kent State went on a 15-6 run midway through the first half, ending with a 27-20 advantage on a baseline jumper by junior guard Chris Singletary.

However, the Flashes struggled to finish out the half and allowed the Illini to tie the game at 27-27 going into halftime.

Kent State quickly regained its lead at the start of the second half and led throughout until under a minute to play, when Illinois made its final push of the game.

Illinois used a 12-4 run to eventually tie the game with two free throws by sophomore center Mike Tisdale. Singletary came back and hit a jumper with 33 seconds left that forced the game to overtime, but Tisdale and the Illini dominated the extra period.

At 7-foot-1-inch tall, Tisdale was a major problem for the Flashes’ defense all day, scoring 20 points to lead all scorers. He tallied the first six points in overtime and helped keep Kent State from scoring for the final 3:55 of the game.

“We thought we had the game a couple of times, but in the end it was the small things like getting the loose balls and offensive rebounds,” senior guard Jordan Mincy said. “We have to give Illinois credit. They were a good team and played hard.”

The Flashes came out focused and played well again in the first half against Texas A&M, leading 35-33 at halftime. They got that lead with an 18-4 run after trailing by as many as 12 points in the half.

Kent State maintained that lead throughout the second half, powered by senior guard Al Fisher. Fisher scored 24 for the game, but with 3:30 to play the Aggies made a final push to win the game.

Senior guard Josh Carter hit a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to five, 71-66, with 37 seconds left. It was the final dagger that sent the Flashes to their second straight loss of the year and a losing streak heading into Monday’s game at defending national champion Kansas.

After the game, Ford said he was disappointed, but realized that his team’s ability to compete in Texas was encouraging for the future.

“There is a lot we can feel good about and take from the (South Padre Island Invitational),” Ford said. “I feel like our team got better playing these two games.”

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].