Flashes bounce back from loss

Sean Joseph

Team recovers from MAC defeat with win over Buffalo

Senior guard Jay Youngblood goes up for a shot in the game against Buffalo yesterday afternoon. The Flashes beat the Bulls 70-52. SAMANTHA RAINWATER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

A solid defensive effort by the Kent State men’s basketball team gave the Flashes a 70-52 win over the Buffalo Bulls yesterday, keeping pace with Akron to remain tied for first place in the Mid-American Conference.

“When you shoot 34 percent, you’ve got to get more than seven offensive rebounds in the game,” Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon said about his team who only shot 26.7 percent in the second half. “(Kent State) played hard, they deserved it, they won – that’s the story of the game.”

The Flashes (14-6, 8-1 MAC) played their third game in a week against a MAC East Division team, bouncing back after Thursday’s 79-74 loss to Bowling Green, which stopped a seven-game winning streak.

“We didn’t stress anything different because stress is a sign of panic. We played poorly the other night,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said about preparing for Buffalo (15-5, 5-4 MAC) after being handed their first conference loss.

“The thing to stress is that we’re a good basketball team, we just need to understand why.”

The Flashes out rebounded the Bulls 39-29 and shot 46.8 percent for the game. Senior forward Kevin Warzynski led the team in scoring for the second straight game, putting up 19 points. Senior guard Jay Youngblood followed with 14.

“We were scoring off our defense, playing hard and guarding well,” Christian said. “When we do that, we have a chance to beat anybody.”

Buffalo forward Greg Gamble hit a 3-pointer to score the first points of the game, but after Youngblood hit a trey on the next possession with 19:08 to play in the first half, Buffalo never led again.

A 20-2 Kent State run early in the first half left Buffalo with seven points until nine minutes and 25 seconds left in the first half.

The Flashes went into the second half with a 38-23 lead. The Bull’s strongest effort for a comeback was a 10-0 run ending at 6:09 left to play that held the Flashes scoreless for almost four minutes. Neither team scored any points in the final three minutes of play.

“Our hustle was too spotty – I don’t want to accept the fact that we were tired,” Witherspoon said. “I don’t know how much rest there is for the weary right now.”

Every team in the MAC East played Tuesday, Thursday and yesterday. Christian said he tries to play a lot of the team to keep fresh feet on the floor.

“I tired, but the adrenaline is pumping,” junior guard Omni Smith said. “If I’m down Mike (Scott) will pick me up. It’s like a chain, we just pick up each other.”

Sophomore forward Mike Scott said he thought the team would be a lot more tired if they were losing, but because they won two out of three games this week, it felt like they only played one.

The Flashes continue playing MAC East opponents on Wednesday night against Ohio (12-4, 6-3 MAC) in Athens. Ohio is coming off two straight losses to Buffalo and Miami, who Kent State beat 53-46 last Tuesday.

“Ohio is the defending champ, they lost today, so they’re going to come out ready.” Christian said. “We have to stay consistent and guard well. It’ll come down to a four or five minute game. We have to keep the guys feeling good and keep them together.”

Contact men’s basketball reporter Sean Joseph at [email protected]