Flashes win by 7, now 7-0 in MAC

Kali Price

The last time the Kent State men’s basketball team had a 7-0 start in the Mid-American Conference was, well, never.

The last time the Flashes played at Miami, they lost 70-45 on March 2, 2005.

Until last night, the Flashes hadn’t won at Miami since Jan. 8, 2003.

The Flashes pulled out a clutch 53-46 win over MAC East Division rival Miami.

Before the opening tip, Miami was in second place in the MAC, with a 6-1 conference record.

But at the final, the Flashes now are 13-5 overall and 7-0 in the MAC.

The win now puts Kent State in the No. 1 spot in the MAC after Akron’s 66-63 loss at Ohio last night.

“One of the things we preached is that we have to make consecutive stops,” Kent State assistant coach Arnette Jordan said in a post-game radio interview. “We wanted to match or raise our average.”

The Flashes did make plenty of stops, forcing the RedHawks (9-7, 6-2 MAC) to commit 18 turnovers, which the Flashes converted into 23 points.

But the game got off to a slow start for both sides, with the score not entering double figures until a 3-pointer by senior guard William Hatcher. Hatcher’s 3-pointer put the RedHawks up 10-8 with 12 minutes and 23 seconds left in the first half. He also put the RedHawks in the lead for the rest of the half.

But the Flashes picked up some momentum coming into the second half with the help of freshmen Jullian Sullinger and Jordan Mincy.

“The last play that Jordan (Mincy) made was our biggest play of the game,” Jordan said. “This is a team effort at Kent State. Our young guys are making big plays.”

Sullinger was key in turning the game around for the Flashes. His layup with 16:02 left in the game put the Flashes ahead by one.

“I told Jullian (Sullinger) that ‘tonight is the night,'” Jordan said. “He came in, he was focused. When you work hard, it pays off.”

But the Flashes’ seniors were the ones to lead in putting up the win.

Senior guard Jay Youngblood led the Flashes with 16 points, three assists and four steals.

He was followed by fellow senior guard DeAndre Haynes with 15 points and four rebounds.

Youngblood was named MAC East Player of the Week Monday after scoring a season-high 27 points during Kent State’s win over Northern Illinois Saturday.

Along with Haynes and Youngblood, senior forward Kevin Warzynski was key in the Flashes’ win.

With 0:28 left, Warzynski stole the ball from Hatcher, keeping the RedHawks away from being within one possession.

Hatcher then fouled Haynes, who put the Flashes up, securing the win.

Warzynski’s last steal gave him a career-high total of five steals.

The Flashes host Bowling Green at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the M.A.C. Center. Warzynski said he believes the team will keep up its winning streak to stay undefeated in the MAC.

“Look at the four guys who went to the Elite Eight,” Warzynski said. “That’s the legacy that at the beginning of the season, me, DeAndre (Haynes), Jay (Youngblood) and Nate (Gerwig) want to leave.”

Contact sports editor Kali Price at [email protected]