Kent State loses control, then loses to Ohio

Doug Gulasy

Flashes struggles from start to finish

The Kent State men’s basketball team fell behind early, and even a late comeback couldn’t keep the Flashes from losing their first Mid-American Conference game of the season.

The Flashes (14-4, 3-1 MAC) lost 71-59 Saturday to Ohio at the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.

“They pressured us and took us out of what we were trying to do,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “We didn’t play with any poise today, and you have to do that, especially on the road (and) especially when a team makes a run. We just didn’t do that the entire night.”

The Flashes trailed 36-25 at halftime. After hitting five of its first seven shots, Kent State shot 2-of-12 from the field for the remainder of the half.

Meanwhile, Ohio shot 54.2 percent (13-of-24) before halftime. Ohio guard Bert Whittington scored 16 points and hit four 3-pointers in the first half, and Bobcats forward Jerome Tillman added 10.

“They had a lot of open shots, and they were knocking them down, and we had some open shots and we weren’t,” Kent State junior guard Al Fisher said. “Then they had more intensity than us. They just came out (and) they had a great game. They have a great team.”

Ohio stretched its lead to as many as 17 points in the second half before Kent State made a run. Sophomore guard Chris Singletary got an offensive rebound and scored to cut the Ohio lead to five, 60-55, with 1:54 remaining.

After the Flashes forced an Ohio turnover, they had a chance to make it a one-possession game, before things got crazy.

Fisher missed a floater in the lane, and Whittington broke away for a layup on a fast break.

Meanwhile, Singletary got called for two technical fouls in the backcourt and was ejected. When Christian argued his player’s case, another technical was called.

Tillman made five of the six technical free throws to put the game out of reach.

“That was a crazy situation,” senior forward Mike Scott said. “I think that pretty much took the wind out of the sails.”

Christian declined to comment on the sequence.

Fisher led the Flashes with 15 points and six assists, senior forward Haminn Quaintance had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Scott added 11 points. For Ohio, Whittington had 26 points and Tillman 23.

Next, the Flashes will play archrival Akron at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the M.A.C. Center.