Flashes falter, fight for MAC is on

Sean Joseph

Jay Youngblood reacts to Kent State’s loss to Bowling Green yesterday. The Falcons broke the Flashes’ seven-game winning streak 79-74. STEPHANIE J. SMITH | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

The Kent State men’s basketball team fell from the top of the Mid-American Conference last night, as Bowling Green took the game, 79-74.

“If we sulk from this, we’re going to lose to Buffalo on Sunday and suffer the rest of the year,” said senior forward Kevin Warzynski with his head down after tying his career high of 25 points.

The Falcons (8-10, 4-4 MAC) stopped the Flashes’ (13-6, 7-1 MAC) seven-game winning streak by making 34-of-35 shots from the free-throw line. Kent State had 38 chances at the free-throw line, taking 12 more shots there than from the field during the second half, but only made 25 of them.

“It’s hard to win a game like that. We have to take advantage of the opportunities we get,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “We weren’t focused tonight. It was one of those nights where nothing was going our way.”

The Flashes only shot 43 percent from the field last night, compared to the Falcons, who made an even 50 percent.

But Kent State did outrebound Bowling Green 27-25.

The Falcons were successful defensively against senior guard Jay Youngblood, limiting him to five points. Youngblood had been averaging 19.8 points in the last four games, leading the Flashes in scoring.

Senior guard DeAndre Haynes scored 18 points last night, eight of which came with less than a minute remaining.

The Flashes went into the second half down by one and never regained the lead. They peaked when they narrowed Bowling Green’s lead to three with just more than a minute left to play.

After that mark, Haynes fouled, sending Falcons forward Mawel Soler to the line. He made both and put his team up by five with 1:15 remaining. On the opposite side of the court, junior Omni Smith, who had a total of seven points, missed a wide-open 3-pointer. The M.A.C. Center began to empty after a Warzynski foul and two more Soler free throws.

“We just wanted to make everything difficult,” Soler said. “Every win on the road is a good win, especially against a team of this caliber.”

Bowling Green had lost two straight games against MAC opponents Buffalo and Ball State by a total margin of four points.

“We had really good play out of a lot of guys,” Bowling Green coach Dan Dakich said. “This time we were able to hang on to the lead down the stretch.”

Kent State is now tied for first place in the MAC East with Akron, while Bowling Green is in sole possession of last place.

The Flashes continue their MAC East marathon against Buffalo at home at 2 p.m. Sunday.

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