Chippewas no match for Flashes

Deanna Stevens

Freshman guard Chris Singletary reaches for the ball during the first half of the Flashes’ game against Central Michigan last night. Kent State defeated the Chippewas 61-45. The Flashes face Eastern Michigan 2 p.m. Saturday at the M.A.C. Center. LESLIE C

Credit: Jason Hall

The Kent State men’s basketball team has hit its stride defensively, holding its second straight opponent to less than 50 points.

The Flashes (13-8, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) pushed their winning streak to four games with a 61-45 victory over Central Michigan last night.

Although the Flashes’ hard-nose style of play wasn’t the prettiest to watch, it frustrated the Chippewa offense early. Kent State began the game with a 13-0 run and held the Chippewas (8-12, 3-5 MAC) to only 16 points in the first half.

“I thought defensively, the entire night, we were flying around making plays,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “That’s the way we need to play to win. We’re not going to be the prettiest team.”

Central Michigan never got closer than 12 points.

Kent State forced 25 turnovers, which they turned into 29 points. It marked the ninth time they’ve caused 20 or more turnovers.

The Flashes focused on Chippewa junior guard Giordan Watson. The defense frustrated him early with strong on-the-ball pressure by guards Jordan Mincy, sophomore, and Omni Smith, senior, who split time with the assignment. Watson, who is second in the MAC in scoring at 18.8 points per game, also faced frequent traps by Kent State’s weak-side help.

Watson was held to seven points.

“We wanted to get the ball out of his hands the whole game,” Christian said. “We trapped him a lot and tried to force him to pass and make other people score.”

But the Flashes didn’t just rely on team defense; they also relied on the whole team to produce offensively.

Three Kent State players finished the game in double figures. Sophomore Julian Sullinger, who seems to have found his niche at center, led the Flashes with 15 points.

The 6-foot-5 former forward, who took over the position after junior Haminn Quaintance was suspended for two games, said he doesn’t care about the position change, as long as he’s out on the floor.

Smith added 10 points and junior forward Mike Scott scored 14. While the Flashes dominated almost every category, they were out rebounded for the fifth time in six games, 27-20.

The Flashes are now 3-0 against the MAC West Division. They will be back home Saturday against Eastern Michigan at 2 p.m.

Contact men’s basketball reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].