Threes lead to victory

Doug Gulasy

3-pointer’s give Flashes 19th victory this year

Junior guard Al Fisher takes to the air to take a shot against Northern Illinois Saturday afternoon. Fisher sank four 3-pointers and had a total of 16 points on the game. The Flashes beat the Huskies 82-65. Elizabeth Myers | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

CLICK HERE to view photos of the basketball game.

It’s hard to determine the best adjective to describe the Kent State men’s basketball team’s 3-point shooting Saturday against Northern Illinois.

Record-breaking? Almost, but not quite.

Good? Definitely an understatement.

Surprising? Perhaps, considering the Flashes shot just 3-of-18 from behind the arc three days earlier against Ball State.

Maybe adjectives aren’t even necessary. Maybe all that needs to be said is that the Flashes (19-5, 8-2 Mid-American Conference) made 15-of-24 3-pointers in a 82-67 victory at the M.A.C. Center.

The 15 3-pointers in a game is second in Kent State history. Only on Feb. 19, 2002, against Marshall, did the Flashes make more 3s (16).

“It was good to see us shoot the ball with confidence, and that starts to spread,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “We fed a lot off the defensive end of the floor . (and) the thing I was most proud of was we had 18 assists on 24 baskets. That’s as good as you’re going to get.”

Northern Illinois led just once, at 2-1. The Flashes erased that lead with an 11-0 run that included three 3-pointers, and they led by double digits for most of the rest of the game.

The Flashes connected on their first six 3-point attempts and did not miss until 12:49 remained in the first half. They made 11-of-14 3-pointers to take a 48-25 halftime lead.

“Some of the shots that they got (in the) first half, we didn’t do a good enough job of contesting, at least getting a hand up,” Northern Illinois coach Ricardo Patton said. “But Kent State, they were just on fire.”

The 3-point barrage was led by two perhaps unlikely players: Junior guard Al Fisher and sophomore guard Rodriquez Sherman. Both scored 16 points to lead the team, with many of those points coming from outside.

Fisher was shooting 29.7 percent from outside coming into the game but made 4-of-6 3-pointers. Sherman made all four of his 3-point attempts despite shooting just 23.1 percent on 3-pointers coming into the game.

“I was feeling good,” Sherman said. “Teammates were encouraging me to shoot, and Coach (Christian) always tells us to step in with confidence, knowing that we’re going to make the shot.”

Defensively, the Flashes held Northern Illinois to 26.9 percent shooting in the first half. The Huskies also shot just 2-of-11 on 3-pointers for the game.

The Flashes led by as many as 27 points in the first half, and the closest Northern Illinois got in the second half was the final margin, 15 points.

“Every now and then when you’re down or behind, you need teams to slip up a little bit,” Patton said.

“I equate it to running a race. If you’re out a couple of laps ahead of me, in order for me to catch (up) you need to pull a hamstring or something, to give me a chance. Good teams just don’t do that. (Kent State) didn’t have any slippage.”

Five players scored in double figures for the Flashes. Besides Fisher and Sherman, senior forward Mike Scott scored 13 points, sophomore guard Chris Singletary scored 11 and junior forward Rashad Woods added 10.

But 12 Flashes saw action Saturday, with 10 of them playing double-digit minutes. All but one of the 12 scored.

“It was good to get some guys minutes — some guys that are going to be helpful for us down the stretch. They all know that,” Christian said. “(It was) good to get some guys off the floor (to rest), but I thought everybody who stepped on the floor played hard today. That’s really all I can judge on.”

Game Notes

Mike who? Mike SCOTT!

Senior forward Mike Scott said after a Feb. 2 loss at Toledo that he was disappointed in his play. That wasn’t the case after Saturday’s game. Scott scored 13 points and added a team-high nine rebounds in the victory. Scott said he was focusing too much on his offense and talked to his teammates and coaches about the problem. “It was just a screwed-up mentality that I had,” Scott said. “I just prayed about it and worked it out, and it just turned around for me.”

Protecting the house

With Saturday’s victory, the Flashes set a program record for home wins in a season. The Flashes are 14-0 at the M.A.C. Center this season. In both 1998-99 and 1999-2000 the Flashes went 13-1 at home. “We’re proud of that,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “We’ve been playing basketball here a long time, and that’s something these guys have to feel proud of . I think our team fully understands that in order to have a chance to win this league, you have to win at home.”

Parks’s place

Sophomore center and fan favorite Brandon Parks made his presence felt in Saturday’s game. He scored his two points on a hard dunk while being fouled, much to the delight of the home crowd and his teammates. “The thing about Brandon . he’s such a team guy,” Christian said. “He’s working hard to get better, and he is. He went in and was productive. He’s got to keep working, keep getting better and hopefully his times will keep coming.”

One away from one goal

All season long the athletic department has had a slogan: “Shooting for 10 Years of 20-Win Seasons.” With seven games left, the Flashes are one win short of their 10th consecutive season of at least 20 wins. They play at Central Michigan on Tuesday night. “It’s definitely an accomplishment,” Scott said. “I thank my teammates; I really do thank my teammates for helping us get to this point that’s going to put us in position to get those 20 wins.”

Induction for Huffman

Trevor Huffman, the all-time leading scorer in Kent State history, was inducted into the Kent State University Varsity “K” Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night. He and the other eight inductees were honored during halftime of Saturday’s game, but Huffman was not present because he is currently playing basketball in Europe. The other eight inductees were baseball players Al Cariss and John Van Benschoten, wrestler Jeff Datkuliak, women’s golfer Jan Dowling, track and field athlete Brendon Falconer, football and track and field athlete Brian Hallett, field hockey player Helen (Jerdan) Knull and former Kent State President Carol Cartwright.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].