Flashes avoid Cardinal upset

Doug Gulasy

Flashes steal a much needed win from the Cardinals in overtime

CHECK OUT photos of the basketball game.

There are faces only mothers can love. Then there are wins that only coaches and their teams can love.

That was the case last night at the M.A.C. Center, as the Kent State men’s basketball team (18-5, 7-2 Mid-American Conference) had to come back to defeat Ball State (3-18, 2-7) 64-61 in overtime.

“These are games that you easily could lose,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “You’ve got to find a way to win, which we did. We battled all the way through.”

Senior forward Haminn Quaintance’s tip-in of a missed shot with 13.3 seconds left in overtime gave the Flashes the lead for good, but the free-throw shooting of each team was what really saved them.

Ball State couldn’t seem to make its free throws, shooting just 12-of-22. That included two key misses by forward Anthony Newell that could have given the Cardinals the lead with 4.2 seconds left in overtime.

“Obviously, we missed a lot of free throws, missed some critical free throws,” Ball State coach Billy Taylor said. “But we got the ball in the hands of the guys that we wanted … if we had it to do all over again, we’d certainly get the ball to (Newell).”

Meanwhile, the Flashes couldn’t seem to miss from the line, connecting on 23-of-25 attempts, including 9-of-9 in overtime.

“Last year, that was a major issue with this team: free throws,” senior forward Mike Scott said. “We lost a lot of games on free throws. Guys are shooting just with so much more confidence this year; it’s impressive.”

Kent State led 25-20 at halftime but couldn’t seem to make a shot in the second half. The Flashes shot just 25 percent (7-of-28) after halftime and just 33.3 percent for the game, their lowest shooting percentage of the season.

“They’ve got a lot of offensive weapons,” Taylor said. “We just tried to be aggressive and show them different looks, either in the post or on the perimeter, trying not to let them get into a

comfortable rhythm.”

It looked like Ball State would be the first visiting team this season to win in the M.A.C. Center.

The Cardinals went on a 21-2 run to take a 47-41 lead with just under five minutes left in regulation.

Newell hit two free throws to give the Cardinals a 61-58 lead with 32 seconds left in overtime, but junior Al Fisher hit a driving layup eight seconds later to cut the lead to one.

Sophomore guard Rodriquez Sherman stole an inbounds pass, and Fisher drove for another layup. This time it wouldn’t fall, but Quaintance tipped it in to give the Flashes their first lead since the 9:25 mark of the second half.

Newell was fouled taking a jump shot, but both of his free throws rimmed out. Scott grabbed the rebound, was fouled and hit two clinching free throws.

Four players scored in double figures for the Flashes. Fisher had a team-high 17 points, Scott had 14, sophomore guard Chris Singletary added 13 and Quaintance had 12 to go along with 16 rebounds.

The Flashes have struggled in recent games, but Singletary has an idea for what the team needs to do to snap out of its funk.

“I think we need to get an oil change … and tune ourselves up,” Singletary said. “(We don’t need) to start over, but just sit ourselves down and remember why we’re 18-5 and go back to

the things that we do.”

There are faces only mothers can love. Then there are wins that only coaches and their teams can love.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].