Haynes key leader in Flashes’ victory

Kali Price

Senior guard DeAndre Haynes goes up for a layup during last night’s 78-58 win over Ohio at the M.A.C. Center. The Flashes won the Mid-American Conference East Division Title with their overall record of 22-7 and MAC record of 15-2. MEGHAN GAURILOFF | DAIL

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Senior guard DeAndre Haynes finally got what he’s been waiting for all four years – a Mid-American Conference East Division title.

“I’m just happy,” Haynes said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Haynes led the Flashes (22-7, 15-2 MAC) to a 78-58 win over 2005 MAC Champion Ohio.

In the preseason, the Bobcats (16-10, 9-8 MAC) were selected to win the MAC East, but as the season wore on, the race became between the Flashes and Akron.

“(Ohio’s) still the team to beat in the league,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “They’re still the defending champs.”

But as the Flashes became the rising star in the MAC and began raking in votes for the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll, it was Haynes who emerged as the team’s leader.

He scored a game-high 24 points last night, followed by fellow seniors Kevin Warzynski and Jay Youngblood with 15 and 13, respectively.

As one of the team’s leading scorers, Haynes was named MAC East Player of the Week. He averaged 15.5 points and 5.5 assists last week.

And it couldn’t have come too soon.

Haynes led the Flashes to a six-game winning streak that they will attempt to continue at Akron Saturday.

But the team’s previous two wins have been at the M.A.C. Center, which is one of the hardest places for opponents to play in the MAC. Since the 1998-1999 season, the Flashes have gone 92-16 at their home court.

The home crowd will miss Haynes and his fellow seniors, but Haynes will miss it more.

“I love this floor, and I’m gonna miss it,” Haynes said.

But some are happy that this is Haynes’ final season.

“I’m awfully glad to see that DeAndre Haynes is a senior,” Ohio coach Tim O’Shea said. “What a great performance he had tonight. (The Flashes are) the best team I’ve seen since the Elite Eight team.”

The Elite Eight team had their shining moment and last night was this squad’s shining moment. But more than anyone, it belonged to the seniors.

“It feels good,” Haynes said. “This is my first time getting to cut down the net.”

But although the net was cut off and the banner was printed, the Flashes still have a long way to go.

“They haven’t lost focus,” Christian said. “They never lost focus on that one goal and that’s what it’s all about. It’s been fun working with them the whole year. We have a lot more things to accomplish.”

After battling with Akron Saturday, the Flashes still have the MAC Tournament to go as they look toward a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“We didn’t set out to win a MAC title,” Christian said. “We set out to win an NCAA Championship.”

Contact sports editor Kali Price at [email protected].