Week stay at M.A.C. Center refocuses Flashes

Matt Goul

The return home to the M.A.C. Center gave Kent State all it needed.

The Flashes won all three home games from Monday to Saturday. After losing the previous two, anything less could have set this team back considerably.

“These three games were a big homestand for us, especially the way we lost the last two (road) games,” junior Kevin Warzynski said.

Kent State’s losses at Western Michigan and Ohio before the homestand were by a combined 42 points.

“Now we got to get focused and get ready to go on the road again,” Warzynski said.

The Flashes (13-6, 5-3 Mid-American Conference) will not play again until Saturday at Toledo (7-8, 3-3 MAC), a one-point loser at Bowling Green two days ago. They will not return home until Feb. 6.

All six of Kent State’s losses came on the road.

The week off will give rest coach Jim Christian said is needed. The Flashes played four games in eight days.

“It’ll be a great thing,” Warzynski said. “Some guys are a little banged up. It will be good for us to get back and do some little things we struggled on, maybe go over some plays again.”

Nate Gerwig, who missed two games last week because of swelling in his repaired right knee, returned Saturday. He played eight minutes, grabbed three rebounds and scored four points. His putback off DeAndre Haynes’ missed leaner from the right baseline beat the halftime buzzer and set a 20-point halftime lead.

Warzynski, who scored a team-high 20 points, manned much of the post with Gerwig’s absence against Marshall and the two previous games. Warzynski had 13 against Buffalo last week, but he has not been the only player finding rhythm in the home stretch.

Senior Jason Edwin averaged 16 points in his last three games. Freshman Marcus Crenshaw’s last two games included momentum-swinging 3-pointers. His 3s against Buffalo ignited a second-half rally against the Bulls. He hit two against Marshall, one breaking the Herd’s last lead early in the first half.

But Crenshaw’s play as a point guard helped his team the most Saturday.

His career-high five assists came with only one turnover, helping take on ball-control duties while Haynes struggled to get in the flow of the offense. Christian said he is not worried about Haynes.

A starter since he was a freshman, Haynes was coming off one of his most productive games against Buffalo. Crenshaw’s emergence, although not a surprise, is what Christian can smile upon.

Along with Jay Youngblood’s return to early-season form, Christian is finding his team can handle slumps along with success.

“From a believing-we-can-win standpoint, we took advantage of that during this home stand,” Christian said. “In any of these three games, even though teams made runs at us or things didn’t go our way, we never once believed we weren’t going to win the basketball game.”

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