Al over again

Chris Gates

Fisher scores 27 crunch time points in OT win

Photo courtesy of Steve Root | The University News

Credit: DKS Editors

Al Fisher scored 11 points in the last five minutes to force overtime and another 16 in the extra period to power the Kent State men’s basketball team to victory over Saint Louis, 76-74.

The senior guard took control in overtime and hit all seven of his shots, including one with two seconds left, to win on the road.

“Al Fisher just put on a clinic,” Kent State associate head coach Rob Senderoff said. “It’s something that I wish all (Kent State) fans could have seen, because it was just unbelievable.”

The Flashes led at halftime, but fell behind quickly in the second half. The Billikens outscored Kent State 16-8 to start the second half and built a six-point lead.

The Flashes struggled shooting the ball up until that point, shooting barely over 34 percent. Senderoff credited the defensive pressure for their ability to stay in the game.

“In the second half, there was a stretch where we didn’t think we could get a stop with whatever we did,” Senderoff said. “We got one more stop than they did.”

With 4:49 left in the game and a 51-48 deficit, Fisher took over.

A circus layup and three-point play tied the game at 51. The very next possession, a Saint Louis pass hit off senior forward Julian Sullinger’s head and Fisher got the steal, leading to another layup and 2-point lead for the Flashes.

Both teams traded the lead as the half wound down – and 18 total times in the game – with Saint Louis leading 59-57. Fisher got the ball and hit a shot with 14.5 seconds left, enough to force the game to overtime.

Once in overtime, it was senior against senior.

Fisher and St. Louis senior guard Kevin Lisch went back and forth, all the way down to the last shot.

After St. Louis freshman forward Brian Conklin hit one of two free throws and tied the game at 74, Kent State coach Geno Ford called a timeout with 21.7 seconds left.

In the huddle, the coaches asked Fisher if he wanted a ball screen or not. Fisher said no and did the rest.

Guarded by Lisch, Fisher drove to the basket and hit his final shot to win the game. A desperation heave wasn’t enough for the Billikens and the Flashes earned a two-point victory.

“We said we were going to take the last shot,” Senderoff said. “If we weren’t going to win the game, it was going to go to double-overtime. We ran a little weave play that we have.

“(Fisher) made a great play.”

Fisher scored 35 points in the game, and 31 of those points came in the second half and overtime. The performance was reminiscent of what made him Mid-American Conference Player of the Year last season.Three times in the final six seconds of games last season, Fisher hit a game winning shot.

He followed his reputation.

“The biggest thing is that it’s on the road,” Senderoff said. “It’s hard to win on the road anywhere.

“When you can come out on the road and come away with a win at an Atlantic-10 school, a top 100 program, in a big time atmosphere, that’s just going to help us with our confidence.”

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].