Disappointing end to disappointing game

Doug Gulasy

Last-second Toledo shot highlight of late collapse

Al Fisher, center, reacts to Kent State’s loss to Toledo in the final seconds of the game Saturday, as Chris Singletary looks on. Photo by David Alan Foster | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Basketball box scores and play-by-plays sometimes don’t tell the whole truth.

For instance, take the play-by-play from the Kent State men’s basketball team’s game at Toledo Saturday afternoon. It shows that the Flashes lost 59-56 when Toledo guard Tyrone Kent executed a three-point play with a tenth of a second remaining in the game.

But truthfully, the Flashes (17-5, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) were losing the game the entire afternoon with uncharacteristically sloppy play.

Kent State players fumbled passes they usually catch, and Toledo players came up behind, in front or to the side of various Flashes and stripped the ball away.

It all led to 22 turnovers, the second-most turnovers the Flashes have committed in a game this season. Only in a victory over Hampton on Nov. 15 did Kent State turn the ball over more times (23).

“I thought they just manhandled us,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “It wasn’t even passes; they just took the ball from us.

“Two days before the game we showed about 30 clips of it, of how aggressive they are defensively. (We) worked on it for two days and then came out here and were very loose and weak with the basketball. You can’t do that to Toledo.”

Still, the Flashes put themselves in position to win in the second half. Junior guard Al Fisher scored 10 of his team-high 18 points after halftime, and junior forward Rashad Woods added all nine of his points. With an 8-0 run, the Flashes went up 56-51 with 1:15 left.

Then came several mistakes. Junior guard Jordan Mincy fouled Tyrone Kent as he shot a 3-pointer. Kent sank all three free throws to make it a two-possession game.

Fisher then turned the ball over on two straight possessions trying to make a play. Toledo got fast-break chances the other way and converted them.

“The last minute and 20 (seconds) we missed a free throw, fouled a 3-point shooter and turned the ball over twice,” Christian said.

Christian defended his point guard, saying the loss “isn’t about Al Fisher, it’s about our basketball team.” He said the team tried to get the last shot but Fisher went a little too early and lost the ball while having a shooter, sophomore guard Mike McKee, open in the corner.

“Everybody on the floor had probably two or three stupid plays, which allowed them to stay around at the end when we could’ve pulled away,” senior forward Mike Scott said. “It’s dumb, it’s needless, it’s pointless, unnecessary. And we have to correct that if we want to be as good as we can.”

Scott also said he was disappointed in his own play of late. The Flashes’ leading scorer on the season, he had four points and two rebounds Saturday.

“I try to stay positive and just play through it, but it’s clear to myself and everybody else that I haven’t been playing well the last few games,” he said.

Scott added that he would have to go “back to the drawing board.” The Flashes may have to do the same thing, though they still are tied on top of the MAC with a 6-2 conference record.

The Flashes host Ball State and Northern Illinois this week. To win those games, Scott said the team had to do a better job of following the game plan than it did Saturday.

“It’s just still one game,” Scott said. “I think we’re still at the top of the MAC, and we just have to bounce back like we always do. We’re at home the next couple games, so hopefully we can get those in the win column and just keep pushing on.”

Game Notes

It had to end sometime

The Flashes lost to Toledo despite allowing just 59 points. Before Saturday, the Flashes had won 23 consecutive games when they allowed fewer than 60 points, dating back to the 2005-06 season. The last time Kent State lost when allowing fewer than 60 points was Dec. 10, 2005, a 58-51 loss at Southern Illinois.

Actually, lots of streaks ended

The Flashes had been 17-0 this season when shooting better than 40 percent from the field, until Saturday. As a team, Kent State shot 40.4 percent, but that wasn’t enough to overcome 22 turnovers.

Savage home court

Toledo’s home gym, Savage Hall, has been just that to Kent State — savage. Saturday’s loss was the third straight for the Flashes when playing at Toledo. The Rockets on the season have a 7-13 record, but at home they are 7-1.

Turnover ugliness

Much like the Kent State football team, the two teams Saturday gave away the ball with high frequency. Both Toledo and Kent State had more turnovers than field goals; Kent State had 22 turnovers to 19 field goals and Toledo had 19 turnovers to 18 field goals.

Television kills the radio stars

The Flashes have been televised to fairly widespread audiences five times this season. They have lost four of those five games — against Xavier (FSN Ohio), North Carolina (ESPN), Ohio (ESPN Classic) and now Toledo (FSN Ohio). The only television win for the Flashes came when they played Akron, which was televised on Time Warner Cable.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].