Flat play puts end to Flashes

Matt Goul

Nate Gerwig gets the ball knocked out of his hands during Kent State’s 62-55 loss to Ohio last night in the quarter-final round of the MAC tournament.

Credit: Andrew popik

CLEVELAND – Kent State just might be trying to start a new trend.

The men’s basketball team spotted Ohio 11 points before losing, 62-55, in the Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinals last night at Gund Arena. The loss ended a four-year streak of advance to the MAC title game.

It’s not the first time Kent State came out flat to start a game. Its last loss at Miami a week ago came with the slowest of starts in an 11-point first half. Even a win over Ohio to close the regular season last Saturday came with a slow start.

But it was not until the final 10 minutes of last night’s game that Ohio took control with a scoring spree.

It started with Mychal Green sinking a fadeaway jump shot, giving the Bobcats a 39-38 lead. Ohio did not seize control until junior center Nate Gerwig was called for an intentional foul on Leon Williams soon after Green’s shot. Williams took position on Gerwig, drawing a push. His shot fell. His free throws for the technical foul did, too.

Ohio added more, establishing a 49-38 lead when Williams score again. Williams scored 14 points and grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds. The run ended with 12 straight points. And Kent State’s hope for a MAC title faded with it.

The breakdown overshadowed a rally from the Bobcats’ quick start, which can be credited to Kent State’s subpar shooting.

The Flashes missed their first seven shots from the floor. Six of those attempts were 3s. No one converted a 3 until freshman guard Marcus Crenshaw ended Ohio’s 11-0 start. He added another to erase Ohio’s start with an 8-0 run.

The slow start, via shooting, did not teach any lessons. Three-pointers kept coming. Kent State took 15 of them, hitting four, in the first half.

When junior guard Jay Youngblood tied the score at 17, it came on a 3. Youngblood, who scored a game-high 16 points, later gave the Flashes their only first-half lead. It was on a 3, too. Ohio’s halftime lead was still only 23-20.

What Kent State could salvage in the first half was because of turnovers. Ohio committed nine of them.

Ohio will play top-seeded Miami in the semifinals tonight at 7. The RedHawks (19-9) defeated Bowling Green, 85-65, behind Danny Horace’s 28 points and Chet Mason’s 21. Buffalo will play Western Michigan in the other semifinal game. The loss was the earliest Kent State had been eliminated since 1998.

Contact men’s basketball reporter Matt Goul at [email protected].