Patience key in team’s victory

Kali Price

Senior Jay Youngblood goes for a layup in last night’s 76-67 win against Buffalo. The win propels the Flashes to the semifinal game in which they will face Ohio. (Below) Senior guard DeAndre Haynes celebrates the win. PHOTO BY ALLIEY BENDER | DAILY KENT S

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Before last night, only seniors Nate Gerwig and DeAndre Haynes had won a game in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

And if the Flashes (23-8, 15-3 MAC) want to make it to the final game of the tournament, all they have to do is calm down.

In the Flashes’ 76-67 win over Buffalo (19-13, 8-10 MAC) last night at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, the Flashes got off to a quick start, taking an early lead over the Bulls.

At the end of the first half, the Bulls didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever coming back into the game.

That is, until midway through the second half.

The Flashes began the second half scoring, as junior guard Armon Gates hit his sixth 3-pointer of the night bringing the score to 43-27.

Gates ended the night with a game-high 19 points and hit 6-of-7 from behind the arc.

“Today was my day,” Gates said. “Tomorrow somebody else is going to step up. I was wide open. I was just fortunate enough to get the shots down.”

But with 8 minutes 50 seconds left to go, the Flashes were unable to keep getting the shots down.

After the Flashes took the lead of 19 points – the biggest of the game – they couldn’t seem to calm down and make smart choices.

It was the same problem they had at Akron. The Flashes got too worked up and couldn’t make any shots.

“We scare most people when that happens,” Haynes said. “We were moving too fast, turning the ball over.”

As usual, it was Haynes who got his team back into the game with an assist that set up senior forward Kevin Warzynski for an easy trey.

After that, each time down the court, Haynes motioned for his teammates to calm down and mouthed “slow down” as he dribbled.

“I think it’s (because Haynes is) a senior; he’s excited to play in the MAC Tournament,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “In true leadership fashion, he kept settling our team down. He’s a great player. He doesn’t have to just score, he’s got to control our team. Every one of our guys contributes. You need it in this type of tournament.”

But even though everyone was attempting to contribute to put points up on the scoreboard, the score stayed close – and it became scary.

The Bulls brought the score within four points, but thanks to some patience and made free throws, the Flashes secured the win to advance to the semifinals.

Not only does patience help, the other thing that helped the Flashes was their ability to think with the game on the line.

“At the end of the game you have to be smart out there on defense,” Haynes said.

And the win had the most fitting ending possible – a steal by Haynes, finished off with a dunk.

Contact sports editor Kali Price at [email protected]