Flashes remain in elite company with 20th win

Jeff Russ

Men’s basketball hits the mark for 10th straight season

It’s the one they’ve been talking about.

Last night at Rose Arena in Mount Pleasant, Mich., the men’s basketball team made history.

The Flashes (20-5, 9-2 Mid-American Conference) defeated Central Michigan 79-66 for their 20th victory of the season, a mark everyone around the team has been counting down to all season.

Entering this season, the Flashes were one of only nine teams with 20 wins or more in nine consecutive seasons. They now join Duke and Kansas with 10 straight.

The Flashes jumped out to a 35-29 lead after a very aggressive first half.

Senior forward Haminn Quaintance played only nine minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, including being involved in a double technical. Central Michigan senior forward Justin Blevins was the other half of the double technical. Blevins would be involved in another incident moments later when he threw junior forward Isaac Knight down following a scuffle after a rebound.

Junior guard Al Fisher had 14 points in the half and would go on to score a career-high 28. Playing at shooting guard, Fisher was able to create a mismatch for Central Michigan’s press defense.

“I came out playing hard,” he said. “I was hitting shots, and I wasn’t hesitating when I got open shots.”

Besides his 28 points, Fisher also had seven assists and grabbed seven rebounds.

“That’s as good as you are going to play,” coach Jim Christian said about Fisher’s game. “They’re an aggressive, overplaying team and there were driving lanes open and he went to the basket unlike in previous games.”

With a nine-point lead with nearly a minute left, Central Michigan coach Ernie Zeigler received a double technical foul after arguing a call. Fisher went on to hit five of six consecutive free throws to put away the Chippewas and make Kent State history.

Quaintance also made history after a big block in the second half.

He is now the only current player in the NCAA with 1,200 points, 800 rebounds, 250 assists, 250 blocks and 200 steals in his career.

But Christian is focusing on team goals rather than individual players making history.

He has said all year that the MAC Championship is what drives this team, but last night the coach addressed the 20th victory.

“There is not a whole lot of teams out there that can say they’ve done what we’ve done,” he said. “I think it’s going to be one of those things that holds the test of time.

“The previous MAC record was five, and now we’ve doubled that. That’s a tremendous amount of work for people who’ve played with program and coached at this program. I hope people look back at this with unbelievable pride and know that we’re going to fight to keep this going.”

The Flashes will go for win number 21 at the M.A.C. Center Saturday, when the team hosts Ohio at 2:30 p.m.

Contact sports editor Jeff Russ at [email protected].