Flashes blow out candles and rockets in MAC tourney

Doug Gulasy

Forward Mike Scott ties career-high on his birthday with 23 points in second-round victory over Toledo

CHECK OUT photos from yesterday’s game.

Mike Scott celebrated his 22nd birthday the best way he knew how: with a big game in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

Scott, a senior forward, tied a career-high 23 points to lead the Kent State men’s basketball team (26-6) to a 77-57 win over Toledo in the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament.

“My teammates found me in very simple situations,” Scott said. “I had a few dunks . guys found me right under the basket. (Junior guard) Al (Fisher) passed it to me a few times right under the basket, fast breaks. I have to award all the points to my teammates.”

It was clear Scott had come to play from the opening tip. He scored 15 of his points in the first half, reaching 1,000 career points on a dunk with about 14 minutes left in the first half.

That dunk wasn’t his biggest of the night. He also had a thunderous, left-handed dunk over Toledo’s Anthony Byrd, drawing a foul on the play.

“As a senior, you’re going to have to lead your team,” said Scott, who ranked the dunk over Byrd the fourth-best in his career. “You have to show your team through actions and verbally that you’re not scared (and) we’re not going to lose this game.”

The Flashes led 39-29 at halftime after getting Toledo’s three leading scorers — guards Tyrone Kent and Jonathan Amos and forward Jerrah Young — into foul trouble. Amos had four fouls and Tyrone Kent and Young each had three in the first half.

“It was good for us to get the ball to the top of the rim, where our size might be able to get them in some foul trouble,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “We were fortunate enough to do that.”

With Toledo’s stars in foul trouble, the Flashes were able to utilize much of their team depth in the second half. Eleven players got into the lineup, and all but one scored.

“When you’ve got to hopefully play three games in three days, especially playing two games in two days like we’re going to do now, you’re going to need different guys to come in and contribute,” Christian said. ” . You have to have depth to win in this tournament, in my opinion.”

When Toledo and Kent State met during the regular season, the Flashes blew a five-point lead in the final minute, losing 59-56.

That didn’t happen last night. The Flashes led by as many as 22 points, and the closest Toledo got in the second half was within 11 points.

“We definitely remembered that (first) game,” Fisher said. “We just wanted to come out — we didn’t do our best (last time) — and we knew we could play a lot better, and we did.”

And in the process, they gave Scott a birthday present to remember: a win.

“Shoot, win — that’s a celebration for me,” Scott said.

The Flashes will play the winner of last night’s Miami-Ohio game tonight at 9:30. They beat the RedHawks in both meetings this year and split two games with Ohio.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].