Flashes feel the pain, end the sting in first road win of season over Herd

Matt Goul

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Even winning at last-place Marshall was not going to be easy.

Jason Edwin got a bruised left eye to prove it. Armon Gates received a gash over his left eye. DeAndre Haynes was poked in the eye, too.

No one in sight was safe, but Kent State (14-7, 6-4 Mid-American Conference) won its first MAC road game of the season, 70-63, at Marshall last night.

“All through practice, we’ve been going after each other,” Gates said. “The wounds I got and J.E. got demonstrated how hard we wanted to come out here and play.”

Gates scored 15 points, including four 3-pointers in the win. He called the team’s last few practices the most intense they have had this season.

“I was just proud of them,” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “After Toledo, I questioned our upperclassmen’s toughness. They stepped up with those things. It was a team effort. Everyone that stepped on the floor contributed some way.”

Marshall (3-15, 0-9 MAC) opened the game on an 8-0 run and jumped to a 10-point first-half lead. The role was reversed from when Kent State had an early lead in its 73-70 loss Saturday at Toledo, a game Haynes could forget.

He combined for seven points, six assists and six turnovers in his last two games. He scored 10 points, dished out six assists and had no turnovers last night.

Gates got 10 stitches after the game for a gash he covered with tape in the second half. The gash was created when he dove for a loose ball and collided with Marshall’s Tre Whitted. Edwin was poked in the eye on the same play.

The Flashes trailed 49-43 when both Edwin and Gates had their sight in jeopardy with 12:23 left.

Gates played on. Edwin did not return until Jay Youngblood, who scored a game-high 19 points, fouled out with 3:08 left in the game. When he did, his eye was closed enough to keep him from seeing out of it.

Scratched and patched, Gates and Edwin were more banged up than Nate Gerwig.

“I hope not,” Gerwig said. “I feel terrible right now.”

His knee had been swollen all week, but he still got on the floor for eight minutes in the second half.

Gerwig provided seven points, five rebounds and a blocked shot during his time on-court. The block kept Marshall from shrinking a five-point deficit with 35 seconds left in the game.

Christian said Gerwig’s play was his best since coming back from a knee injury that sidelined him last season and six games into this season.

“Nate played like the Nate of old in terms of just his emotion and energy on the court,” Christian said. “That’s what he needs to do. That’s when he’s good. He’s been frustrated a lot and naturally so.”

Gerwig will have his knee drained again Friday. He expects the draining to continue after the season and said his doctor told him another scope is likely at the end of the season. He barely plays in practice to keep the swelling down.

“I just want to come in and do anything to help,” Gerwig said, “mostly with rebounding and defense.”

The Flashes’ win snapped an eight-game losing streak in road conference games, stemming back to last season. A 76-61 win at Central Michigan on Feb. 7, 2004, was their last.

The Flashes led only twice and trailed by 12 last night. They retook the lead for good when Gerwig hit the first of two free-throw attempts with 5:29 left.

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