Flashes end clean MAC road record at Toledo by 16

Kali Price

It’s up to Akron again to keep the Kent State men’s basketball team on top of the Mid-American Conference.

After the Flashes’ (16-7, 10-2 MAC) 60-44 loss last night at Toledo (12-9, 5-8 MAC), the only way the Flashes will keep sole possession of the No. 1 spot in the MAC is if Akron were to lose to Western Michigan tonight.

In their first MAC road loss of the season, the Flashes went punch-for-punch with the Rockets for the first 14 minutes of the game, leading the Rockets by as much as six.

“We’re obviously happy with the win,” Toledo coach Scott Joplin said. “Nobody could score early on and it looked like both teams we’re feeling each other out. Our freshmen really gave us a shot in the arm when they came in. Our defensive effort was pretty good and I thought we played well as a team offensively.”

But with 6:15 left in the half, the Rockets took a one-point lead and didn’t give up their hold on the win for the remainder of the contest.

The Flashes came within one on two separate occasions. With 4:05 left in the first, a foul shot by senior guard DeAndre Haynes put the score at 20-19.

Haynes was the leading scorer for the Flashes with nine points, including six from the field and three from the charity stripe.

But after the Rockets jumped ahead again, junior guard Omni Smith brought the score to 22-21 two minutes later.

The Flashes closed the half down 32-23, following a 16-8 run by the Rockets in the last six minutes of the half.

The second half didn’t start off well for the Flashes either.

The Rockets outscored the Flashes 28-21 in the second half and led by as much as 21 with 5:12 on the clock.

“I think we played very well for the whole 40 minutes,” Toledo freshman guard Jonathan Amos said. “Tonight we just gave it our all and battled it out to get the win.”

Flashes’ leading scorer, senior guard Jay Youngblood, only scored eight points on the night, all of which were from field goal range.

Smith scored seven points and posted three assists.

Led by junior forward Florentino Valencia, who scored 11 points, the Rockets dominated the Flashes across the board.

The Rockets shot for 53 percent from the field, hitting 21-of-40, whereas the Flashes only shot for 38 percent, sinking 16-of-42.

Turnovers were a problem for both teams, but only the Rockets were able to capitalize on those opportunities.

The Rockets scored 23 points off of the Flashes’ 17 turnovers, while the Flashes only gained 8 from the Rockets’ 15 turnovers.

The Flashes will get their next chance to keep the hold on the No. 1 spot in the MAC against Northern Illinois at noon Sunday at the M.A.C. Center.

Contact sports editor Kali Price at [email protected]