Flashes win 20th

Jonas Fortune

With Buffalo out of the way, Flashes can focus on Akron, MAC East Title

The Kent State men’s basketball team held off a second-half charge by Bowling Green to secure another 20-win season with a 77-64 victory last night at Anderson Arena.

Kent State coach Jim Christian said he was very proud of the program after the game but was more excited for his players.

“I have so much respect for these kids and this team, I really do. I’m happy they did it. If they wouldn’t have done it I would have been just as happy,” Christian said. “This team has given everything they can give, and they will continue to do that. I know that. We needed to get this game to give ourselves a chance to play for the MAC East Title, and that’s important for us.”

Getting to that 20th win wasn’t as easy as it first seemed, though. After mounting an 18-point lead in the second half, Kent State faced a late charge by the Falcons and Ryne Hamblet. With 2:20 left to play in regulation, the junior guard stroked a 3-pointer to bring the Falcons within seven points, but Kent State freshman Rodriquez Sherman put an end to the Falcons’ run.

Sherman swiped the ball away from Hamblet and drove the length of the court for an uncontested dunk with 1:40 left, pushing the Flashes’ lead back to 10, 70-60.

Rodriquez, who scored 14 second-half points, poured in five in the final two minutes to secure the Flashes’ victory.

“He’s not afraid to make plays,” Christian said. “He plays better than a freshman.”

The Flashes dominated in the paint, outscoring the Falcons 54-22 down low.

“We beat ourselves,” Falcons senior center Matt Lefeld said. “We had a great week of practice, and we threw it out the window.”

Guard Omni Smith’s penetration skills seemed to be a difference maker. The senior continually slithered his way through the Bowling Green defense, preferring to flip the ball to open teammates in most instances.

By halftime, Smith had piled up six assists – he finished the game with nine – and the Flashes had jumped out to a 12-point lead, 41-29.

Receiving many of those assists was forward Julian Sullinger. The 6-foot-3 sophomore was often underneath the basket, scoring 13 of his career-high 20 points in the first half.

Yet Bowling Green continued to hang around deep into the game, mostly because of Hamblet. He shot 7-of-10 from the field and 4-of-6 from 3-point range, finishing the game with 21 points and four assists.

Junior forward Haminn Quaintance finished the game with 15 points, four rebounds, two blocked shots and five steals.

Contact assistant sports editor Jonas Fortune at [email protected].