Top twenty-dive

Doug Gulasy

After being voted into Top 25, Flashes fall

Junior forward Julian Sullinger puts up a floater during Saturday’s game against Bowling Green. The Nationally ranked Flashes lost 89-83. Daniel Doherty | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Goodbye, national ranking. The Kent State men’s basketball team hardly knew you.

The No. 23 Flashes (23-6, 11-3 Mid-American Conference) lost 89-83 at Anderson Arena in Bowling Green on Saturday in their first game as a ranked team in program history.

“It’s a big letdown,” junior guard Al Fisher said. “We definitely wanted this game, but it just didn’t come out that way.”

The biggest factor in the loss was the Flashes’ defense, or possible lack thereof.

In racking up a season-high 89 points, Bowling Green seemingly couldn’t miss from the field. The Falcons shot 50.8 percent overall and 52.4 percent (11-of-21) on 3-pointers. They also outrebounded the Flashes by nine (40-31).

Kent State coach Jim Christian was blunt in his description of the defense.

“We just did an awful job,” Christian said. “We did an awful job keeping them out of the lane. We did an awful job of finding shooters.”

“The thing I was most disappointed with (was) we did a bad job of adjustments. We would go over things at halftime and in timeouts, and then we’d go out and make the same mistakes again. We just did not play well today.”

When the teams met earlier this season, the Flashes never trailed. Saturday, the Flashes barely led. Twice they led by one point in the first half. Both times the Falcons quickly retook the lead.

Bowling Green went on a 12-0 run near the end of the half that enabled the Falcons to go into halftime up nine points.

Every time the Flashes made a run to make the score close in the second half, Bowling Green went on a run of its own to increase its lead.

“On every big possession they made a big play,” Christian said. “Even if we stopped them, they got a rebound. We just never could get started on defense. We never could put consecutive stops together on the defensive end of the floor, and that’s what you have to do to win on the road.”

Perhaps no sequence demonstrated the Flashes’ inability to stop the Falcons than one that began six minutes into the second half, after a Fisher 3-pointer cut Kent State’s deficit to one at 48-47.

Bowling Green went on a 12-2 run that included three 3-pointers and a 3-point play to take a commanding lead. The Flashes never got within four points the rest of the way.

“Coming into the game, we knew they could shoot. They’ve got great shooters on their team,” Fisher said. “They hit their open shots, they hit shots with hands in their face. They just did everything they’re supposed to do.”

Guards Joe Jakubowski, who had 21 points and 12 assists, and Brian Moten, who scored 24 points, led Bowling Green. Moten made 6-of-9 3-point attempts.

“(Moten) hit some great shots; I give him credit,” Christian said. “I give their whole team credit. They played very well.”

The Flashes were led by senior forward Mike Scott, who scored a career-high 23 points and had nine rebounds; Fisher, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half; and sophomore guard Chris Singletary, who added 16 points.

But the offensive effort wasn’t enough to offset the defensive one, as the Flashes gave up the second-most points they have allowed this season. Only No. 2 North Carolina scored more points as a Kent State opponent.

The Flashes will probably drop from the national rankings after the loss, but Christian made it clear he didn’t care about that. He also didn’t blame the pressure of the ranking for the loss.

“We don’t worry about that. We’re trying to win the MAC Championship here,” Christian said. “We don’t care about pressure. We’ve got to play better. We didn’t guard today.”

Game Notes

Missing “Q”

Senior forward Haminn Quaintance missed all but five minutes of the first half after committing two early fouls, and the Flashes struggled without him in the lineup. “We have to get the guys who come in to step up, and they didn’t play well (Saturday),” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “They had been playing well. Everybody in the league has concern with (depth), but our bench has got to contribute and make plays. If they just defend and rebound, that’s really all we need.”

House of horrors

Before Saturday, the last time Bowling Green had played a ranked opponent at home was Feb. 20, 1999, when the Falcons beat No. 25 Miami 69-58. With Saturday’s victory, Bowling Green has won four straight home games over nationally ranked opponents, dating back to 1990.

Big Game Tuesday

Tuesday’s home game against Miami has several storylines surrounding it. ESPN2 will be televising the game. Seniors Mike Scott and Haminn Quaintance will be recognized for Senior Night. And the Flashes can clinch at least a share of the Mid-American Conference East Division title with a win. “In terms of the MAC East, we have to win Tuesday night,” Christian said. ” . We don’t worry about anybody else’s doing. If we’re going to win a championship, we’re going to have to win it.”

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].