Cheerful Flashes

Deanna Stevens

Smiles have been adundant during the men’s basketball team’s five-game winning streak

The Flashes were all smiles during their 82-46 win over Eastern Michigan at the M.A.C. Center on Saturday.

Sophomore guard Jordan Mincy said they were just following the captain’s orders.

“Before every game, our captain (Armon Gates) tells everybody to huddle up and he’ll say, ‘smile.’ That’s we go out there and do,” Mincy said. “We just smile and have fun.”

And with both the offensive and defensive games working on high, Kent State (14-8, 7-2 Mid-American Conference) had plenty to smile about as they rolled to their fifth consecutive win.

The Flashes held the Eagles (8-14, 3-6 MAC) to just 28 percent shooting from the field and 13 percent from the perimeter.

Kent State coach Jim Christian said the team’s defense was so good because of the effort from everyone.

“It was the way guys where flying around,” Christian said. “Guys were in help (defense) the whole game and causing turnovers.”

The Flashes have been playing solid defense during their current five-game winning streak and have now held opponents under 50 points for three straight games.

“That’s very difficult to do,” Christian said about keeping opponents under 50. “Especially in our league where teams are so prepared and explosive.

“Offense is not going to win games for us,” Christian added. “Its going to be our commitment to the defensive end of the floor. Its going to be our commitment to getting stops.”

The Flashes’ offense definitely didn’t hurt on Saturday. They got hot from the field, shooting 56 percent from the floor and 61 percent from behind the arc.

“We just got hot and made shots,” Christian said. “Those nights happen. There will be some nights where we shoot the ball like this, and there will be some nights we don’t. But we’re playing unselfishly, and I think we’re executing, right now, better than we have, and that’s the by-product of it.”

Freshman guard Chris Singletary led the Flashes with a career-high 16 points. He finished the game a perfect 2-2 from the 3-point line and 4-4 from the free-throw line.

“I think it was just an understanding,” Christian said about Singletary. “He understood the time and the score. He got a couple of rebounds when we got a little frantic. It was the best overall game he’s played, but he’s been playing that way for six or seven straight games now.”

Singletary said his recent improvements are a product of believing in Christian’s system.

“I just really bought into the way coach wants me to play, which is losing myself in the game,” Singletary said. “Just playing all out and playing hard and not really thinking about the mistakes I make, just playing defense and leaving it all out on the court.”

Three other Flashes added 12 points apiece, sophomore center Julian Sullinger, and senior guards Omni Smith and Gates.

Freshman center Brandon Parks also had a career offensive night, adding nine points, including an ally-oop from junior forward Haminn Quaintance, which brought his teammates and the fans to their feet.

“I’m proud of Brandon, personally,” Mincy said. “He has been making improvements ever since he got here. And to see him go out there and do what he did, it was exciting to us all. And we’re very proud of him.”

Leading Kent State was Mincy, who had a career-high eight assists, five of which came in the first half alone.

In a game where everything seemed to be working for the Flashes, they even improved in two areas where they had been struggling: free-throw shooting and rebounding. They out-rebounded the Eagles 35-31 and shot 72 percent at the free-throw line.

“It’s three games in a row over 70 (percent)” Christian said about the free throws. “For us, that’s progress. We’ve been working at it, and we’ll be working at it all year.”

The Flashes look to sweep the West Division 7 p.m. Tuesday at home against the Toledo Rockets (12-9, 8-1 MAC).

“There are going to be nights like this, and there are going to be nights where nothing goes your way,” Christian said. “So you just have to weather storms and not get too high or too low. We have another game Tuesday against a phenomenal basketball team.”

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