Omni ousts OU in OT

Deanna Stevens

Freshman guard Chris Singletary takes time to celebrate a victory. SAM TWAREK | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

After 16 lead changes, Omni Smith made sure that the 17th put the Kent State’s men’s basketball team up for good against Ohio on Sunday.

Smith hit the game-winning floater in the lane with four seconds left in overtime to give the Flashes a 67-65 win in their Mid-American Conference home opener.

“Omni’s been like that for us all year,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “He can get to the lane and make plays. We want the ball in his hands in key situations.”


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The senior guard, who scored two points in the first half, put up six in overtime and finished with 13 overall.

He said the last play was designed for fellow senior guard Armon Gates,who also finished with 13 points, but after Gates called a defensive switch, Smith entered the lane to try to make something happen.

Sophomore forward Jerome Tillman, who had game highs with 20 points and 17 rebounds, was guarding Smith on his drive to the hoop.

“That was a real tough shot,” Tillman said. “I was right in his face.”


Smith was not the only Kent State (9-7, 2-1 MAC) player to come up clutch for the Flashes late in the game.

Junior forward Haminn Quaintance came up with an offensive rebound to keep the possession alive with a minute left in overtime. With the game tied at 62, Quaintance then hit a layup and was fouled.

The junior missed two free throws late in regulation that could have put the Flashes up by two, but he converted the three-point play to put the Flashes up three with about 40 seconds to go in overtime.

But Ohio (11-5, 2-1 MAC) quickly responded when junior guard Bubba Walther countered Quaintance’s three-point play with a deep 3-pointer to tie the game at 65.

Walther, a transfer from Akron, finished with 12 points, all from 3-pointers.

Yet, Ohio coach Tim O’Shea said the key moment for the Bobcats did not involve any clutch shot.

“The big play for us was when Leon (Williams) fouled out in overtime,” O’Shea said. It was tough to lose him at that point because of how much he means to us.”

Williams, who had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Bobcats, fouled out with just over two minutes remaining in overtime.

The foul led to two free throws for sophomore Isaac Knight, who made one, to tie the game at 62.

While the final moments were filled with big shots, neither team’s offense excelled during regulation. Kent State shot 38 percent for the game, 25 percent from 3-point range. Ohio shot 39 percent for the game, 50 percent from behind the arch.

The game’s low score didn’t bother Christian.

“I don’t view it as bad basketball when teams don’t score,” Christian said. “I just view it as good defense…We got every big stop that we needed to get tonight, as did they. That’s what the good teams do.”

The Flashes forced 22 turnovers, which they converted into 22 points.

While the Flashes were out-shot, and out-rebounded (47-37), they gained an edge at the free-throw line. Kent State went 9-14 from the line (64 percent), while Ohio shot 11-19 (57 percent).

“Free throws were huge for us because it was such a close game,” O’Shea said. “We’ve been leading the MAC in free throw shooting, but we just had a day were we shot 57 percent, about 20 percentage points lower(than average). And I think that hurt us.”

Kent State is back in action at 7 p.m. on Wednesday against rival Akron at James A. Rhodes Arena.

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