Flashes in first

Doug Gulasy

Sellout crowd watches Men’s Basketball defeat local rival Akron Zips

WATCH an audio slideshow about the game

Players dove for loose balls, fought for rebounds, hit big shots and even threw an elbow or two, all in front of a sold-out, animated crowd.

Welcome to the Kent State-Akron rivalry.

The Kent State men’s basketball team defeated Akron 75-69 last night in front of 6,516 people, a sellout crowd, at the M.A.C. Center.

To get the win, the Flashes had to come back from a 10-point halftime deficit, but most fans’ lasting image probably was a fight between the teams with 4.5 seconds remaining.

“I don’t want what happened at the end of the game to be the story of the game,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “This was two programs and two teams that have a great amount of respect for each other that really compete hard. The incident is obviously a byproduct of that and not indicative of either team. I want to make that perfectly clear.”

The Flashes (15-4, 4-1 Mid-American Conference) went into halftime down 35-25 after allowing Akron to shoot 7-of-13 from beyond the 3-point line in the half.

But Kent State’s defense buckled down in the second half, holding the Zips (14-4, 4-1) to just 37.9 percent shooting overall and 33.3 percent from 3-point range.

“Going into halftime down by 10, Coach made a statement saying that we weren’t guarding anybody and weren’t making our rotations and whatnot,” sophomore guard Chris Singletary said. “So we had to make an adjustment, and coming into the second half we made the adjustment that was more focused on the defense.”

The Flashes recorded seven steals and four blocks and forced 12 Akron turnovers after the half. They scored 18 points off turnovers in the second half and 28 for the game.

Meanwhile, the offense shot 68.4 percent (13-of-19) from the field in the second half, enabling the Flashes to take the lead.

“We had to get some scores because those dudes weren’t missing anything,” senior forward Mike Scott said. “(Akron was) hitting every big shot . and it just happened to go our way. We were hitting big shots; luckily, they were falling for us.”

A 14-2 run, capped off by a 3-pointer by junior guard Al Fisher with the shot clock approaching zero, gave the Flashes a 51-46 lead with 8:27 remaining. The team never relinquished the lead.

“When Al Fisher hit the 3 at the end of the shot clock, a couple of plays later some things happened,” Singletary said. “We came down, came into a huddle . and the guys were talking about just playing with confidence . tonight I think a lot of guys played with confidence and didn’t really get down on themselves.”

The 14-2 run boosted the crowd’s noise level way up, and it didn’t go down for the rest of the game.

Akron coach Keith Dambrot said the crowd was so loud that his team couldn’t even run plays.

“I like our place, but it can’t be any better than this place,” Dambrot said. “For an old dungy place, man, it gets pretty loud.”

The fight at the end of the game resulted in technical fouls being called against Flashes senior forward Haminn Quaintance and Akron’s Quade Milum.

However, no punches were thrown and no players were ejected. Both Dambrot and Christian said after the game that they had great respect for the other program.

Kent State had four players score in double figures: Scott and Singletary (18 points each), Fisher (16) and Quaintance (12). Quaintance also had 10 rebounds to record his third double-double in a row.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].