Flashes take down Titans

Deanna Stevens

Sophomore guard Jordan Mincy dribbles around Detriot-Mercy guard Brandon Bell during the home opener Saturday. The team came out on top 61-48 and will play Temple at home tomorrow at 7 p.m. ELIZABETH MYERS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

After its first loss of the season against No. 7 Ohio State, the Kent State men’s basketball team rebounded to defend its home court in a 61-48 victory over Detroit Mercy on Saturday.

Without senior guard Omni Smith and freshman guard Chris Singletary, Kent State coach Jim Christian said the team’s ability to unite signifies something more.

“I couldn’t be more proud of that,” Christian said. “In my five years, this is the best win we’ve ever had. Today everybody who played in the game had to step up today and play more minutes than they’ve been playing.”

The Flashes were without the guards because they were suspended for violating an unidentified team rule.

“That’s why I think our team took a big step forward today,” Christian said. “We could have went in a corner and felt sorry for ourselves playing without two guys who have been starting, but they didn’t. They took the other road, and I think this is going to reap benefits for us down the line.”

Christian added that even though Smith and Singletary made mistakes, they showed maturity by supporting their teammates in the victory.

“If you watched the bench, those guys probably cheered harder than anyone else,” Christian said. “And that’s something they took a step forward in.”

One player who elevated his game was freshman guard Rodriquez Sherman, who led the Flashes with a game-high 14 points.

Sherman said he came in the game focusing on playing defense, rebounding the ball and “being solid.” The offensive side of the game just came along with that.

Along with new players stepping up, Christian said he was proud of the leadership senior guard Armon Gates showed during the game.

“Armon Gates led us today,” Christian said. “(He did) everything he needed to do on the floor. He played with composure, he played hard, he kept talking to his teammates. That was probably one of the best senior games I’ve ever seen a guy play.”

Gates finished the game with 12 points along with the eight rebounds, including a 3-pointer during a Kent State 15-2 run at the end of the first half that gave the Flashes a 36-25 lead at halftime.

“It was real important that we just controlled the tempo of the game and play Kent State basketball,” Gates said. “That’s the only thing that we stress. Playing help-defense and rebound the ball.”

Detroit coach Perry Watson said the Kent State run at the end of the first half hurt his team the most.

Junior forward Mike Scott had 10 of his 12 points in the first half. He also finished with five rebounds.

The cushion the Flashes created at half time was also sustained by the 21 points they earned off 14 Titan turnovers. The Flashes only gave up the ball eight times, while finding each other for 16 assists.

“We have some guys who can pass the basketball,” Christian said. “We executed well today, especially during key times of the game. The thing I was impressed with was we had 16 assists on 24 baskets with only eight turnovers. When you get a 2-to-1 ratio from your team, they are executing.”

Watson added the execution of the Flashes was aided by Titans’ defensive struggles.

“We kind of hurt ourselves with some defensive breakdowns,” Watson said. “Kent State executed and got some easy looks off of back door plays. We didn’t have successful rotation and that’s what they made us pay for.”

Kent State will return to the court Tuesday at 7 p.m. to face Temple at the M.A.C. Center.

Contact basketball reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].