Three’s the key in Kent State win

Jeff Russ

The 3-point line sits 19 feet, 9 inches from the basket in the college game. Saturday night the Kent State men’s basketball team made itself very aware of that line.

The 10-2 Flashes found that line early and often in a 84-69 victory over Cleveland State Saturday night at the M.A.C. Center.

The 3,576 fans in attendance immediately had something to cheer for when senior forward Haminn Quaintance rejected two shots that turned into 3-pointers from junior guard Al Fisher and senior guard Mike Scott.

It didn’t stop there for the Mid-American Conference’s leading 3-point shooting team.

Sophomore guard Mike McKee hit a three to make the score 13-3. Sophomore guard Chris Singletary came off the bench and hit a three to make it 16-4.

All in all the Flashes hit 8 of 12 shots from behind the arc in the first half and led 50-27 at halftime. Coach Jim Christian said he was happy with his team’s early shot selection.

“Every three we took was a really good three,” he said. “I don’t evaluate how many, I evaluate if they are good ones or bad ones. Are they coming off an extra pass or a good screen?”

Christian said he was pleased with his team’s fast start against a good team after a nine-day layoff.

“We were disappointed with how we played last time off the layoff,” he said. “We wanted to come out and play with energy.”

In perhaps his best game of the season, Fisher scored 15 points and dished out 10 assists. With each game Christian sees Fisher more comfortable in the lineup.

“He struggled in the beginning figuring it out, but I think he is starting to understand,” Christian said. “He’s a very talented player who has a command on what we want to do.”

For Fisher, the 10 assists mean more than the 15 points.

“The ten assists mean I got my teammates involved, I always like to do that,” he said.

Following the loss, Cleveland State coach Gary Waters said it was the Vikings’ first bad game, and Kent State may be the best team his team has played.

“They got more than one piece to what they are doing,” Waters said. “They got a post guy, the four man is as good as any in the league, and the point guard Fisher is a good basketball player. They defend well and their offense and controlling tempo helps them.”

Waters said Kent State’s big 3-pointers took the 8-5 Vikings out of their game and he thought the Flashes outplayed the Vikings in every aspect of the game.

“I came into the game feeling Kent State was one of the best teams in the MAC, and my opinion hasn’t changed,” Waters said.

Now the Flashes can transfer the mindset to number one, as they travel to North Carolina to face the number-one-ranked Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, N.C. Wednesday. The game will be on ESPN.


Welcome Back

Gary Waters returned to the M.A.C. Center for the first time as an opponent’s coach. “It’s good to come back home,” he said. “But your mind is not totally focused on that, you’re focused on all the distractions.” Waters coached at Kent State for five seasons from 1996-2001, compiling a 92-60 record while winning two Mid-American Conference titles. Before the game, Waters received a large standing ovation. “It’s was outstanding and very warm to know they still remember me here,” he said.

Iron Unkind

It may not have led to victory, but Cleveland State only shot 21-of-35 from the free-throw line, something coach Waters was not happy about. “That’s not us,” Waters said. “We were getting fouled, getting to the line but shot 10-20 in the first half. If we shot what we normally shoot than it is a ten point game at halftime.”

Everybody Scores

Four Kent State players scored in double figures-Haminn Quaintance, Mike Scott, Al Fisher and Chris Singletary. A fifth, Mike McKee, scored nine. “We don’t rely on one guy,” Christian said. “We don’t have one guy who is good enough as a scorer to play that way. We like it that way, I like it that way as a coach.”

Contact sports editor Jeff Russ at [email protected]