Junior forward Haminn Quaintance lays up a shot over Buffalo junior forward Andrew Atman in last nights 68-64 victory over the Bulls.
Brian Marks | Daily Kent Stater
Credit: Ron Soltys
The last minute of play between the Kent State men’s basketball team and Buffalo was indicative of the entire game: missed opportunities, defensive pressure and hustle plays.
But the Flashes’ ability to come up with those hustle plays gave them the edge in the 68-64 win over the Bulls.
With 41 seconds left, Buffalo sophomore guard Eric Moore missed two free throws, but Kent State was unable to grab the rebound. Moore then hit a 3-pointer to pull the Bulls within two. Buffalo came up with a steal off of its full-court press, but senior guard Darwin Young was unable to convert a layup. Kent State senior guard Omni Smith, who scored 11 points, was able to grab the rebound to regain possession.
The Flashes then sealed the game after breaking the Bulls’ press and finding forward Haminn Quaintance for a dunk. The junior finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
“We were trying to not let them get the ball in bounds,” Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon said about the final play. “But we didn’t clamp down on them right away and then we ended up chasing.”
Even though the Flashes came out with the win, Kent State coach Jim Christian said the team made some mistakes that showed its inexperience.
“In the last minute we did things that we’re trying to teach our young team (not to do),” Christian said. “We were up five with 48 seconds to go, we’re playing against the clock now. And at the end of the game we didn’t take care of (the ball) as much as we would have liked.”
The ending of the game fits with the dramatic race in the standings. The win, along with Akron’s 64-62 loss to Miami, ties the Flashes and the Zips for the No.1 spot in the Mid-American Conference East Division.
Although the young team made some mistakes, the underclassmen stepped up for the Flashes.
Sophomore guard Jordan Mincy scored six points and dished out a career-high 10 assists.
“I was so proud of (Jordan) because he never got rattled,” Christian said. “He got the ball to the right people.”
Sophomore forward Julian Sullinger added nine points, including a 3-pointer in the second half as the shot clock was winding down. Freshman guard Rodriquez Sherman finished with six points and seven rebounds.
“The guy today was Rod,” Christian said. “Rod Sherman kept us in this game at a critical time in the second half. He got a couple of huge rebounds. He drove to the basket. He’s the rock, he’s the most solid guy we have.”
Freshman guard Byron Mulkey led the Bulls with 21 points and senior forward Yassin Idbihi added 13 points and 11 of the team’s 42 rebounds.
Contact men’s basketball reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected]