Men clinch MAC East

Doug Gulasy

Kent State perfect at home after Senior Night

Days removed from a defensive performance, its own coach called awful, the Kent State men’s basketball team redeemed itself.

The Flashes (24-6, 12-3 Mid-American Conference) held Miami to 32.7 percent shooting in a 50-39 victory last night at the M.A.C. Center. In doing so, they clinched at least a share of the MAC East Division title and the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament.

“(Our players) were so tough and gritty today,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “That was probably as good of defense as you can play. I was proud of their effort; I was proud of how hard they played.

“The other stuff we can get better at, but that mentality they had today — they were not going to lose this basketball game.”

In their 89-83 loss Saturday to Bowling Green, the Flashes gave up numerous open shots, many of them 3-pointers.

That didn’t happen last night. In giving up a season-low number of points, Kent State players had their hands in the face of a Miami shooter for seemingly every shot attempt. Those same hands poked at RedHawks ballhandlers, stripping the ball loose numerous times.















The play that typified the defensive effort came with less than four minutes left in the first half and the Flashes leading 17-14.

Junior guard Jordan Mincy began the sequence by stripping the ball away from a Miami guard into the RedHawks backcourt.

For the next 10 seconds or so, Mincy and senior forward Mike Scott dove on the floor to retrieve the ball as it came loose several times from Miami players. The play ended with a jump ball call, with possession going to the Flashes.

“I had a lot of fun doing that, especially when the jump ball went our way,” Scott said. “I was talking to Jordan in the locker room, and I was like, ‘Man, we had eight dudes on the floor.’ He was like, ‘It was just me and you.’ We both dove like 30 times each, and it was crazy because I’m thinking everybody’s out there.

“It was great. That’s what Kent State’s all about since the first day I got here.”

In all, the Flashes had six blocks and eight steals en route to forcing 19 turnovers. They caused Miami to shoot 0-of-8 from 3-point range and held the RedHawks’ leading scorer, junior guard Michael Bramos, to six points.

“Anytime you play a great player like (Bramos), it’s key to not let him get going early,” Christian said. “I thought in the beginning of the game we made him take a couple tough shots.

“The other key was our rebounding the basketball. The one thing that we really emphasized this week was our team rebounding. We did a really poor job of that in Bowling Green, and I thought today we rebounded the ball extremely well.”

Kent State’s two seniors had a big night on Senior Night. Forward Haminn Quaintance scored just two points but had 11 rebounds, four blocks and four steals.

Scott recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Eleven of his points came in the first half on three 3-pointers and a thunderous left-handed dunk.

“They’re without question the two most unselfish players I’ve coached in my time here,” Christian said. “They’re all about winning. They don’t worry about their individual numbers and because of that they’re two special people that have a special place in my heart.”

When the final buzzer sounded to conclude the Flashes’ second undefeated season at home in program history (16-0), the fans stormed the court and celebrated with the team as the players unfurled a division championship banner.

When Central Michigan beat Western Michigan later, the Flashes clinched the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament next week.

“We had seen (a film of) how it was when they had won the MAC Tournament (in 2005-06), how everybody was celebrating,” said sophomore guard Chris Singletary, who led the Flashes with 15 points. ” . I just got chills through my body; it was a great feeling. To be able to be a part of it is just an even better feeling.”

The Flashes conclude the regular season Sunday, when they travel to the James A. Rhodes Arena to face the rival Akron Zips.

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Doug Gulasy at [email protected].