No free pass for Flashes in OT victory

Matt Goul

DeAndre Haynes goes for a layup during last night’s overtime win against Buffalo. Haynes scored 13 points and had 8 assists.

Credit: Andrew popik

Buffalo could convince all 3,427 in the M.A.C. Center last night it wanted Kent State to win.

After missing 10 of their last 20 free throws, the Flashes still won 85-80 in overtime, but did it their own way — not taking advantage of the numerous times Buffalo sent them to the free-throw line.

Instead, Kent State (12-6, 4-3 Mid-American Conference) rallied from a 10-point deficit with about 11 minutes left in the second half. Playing from behind was when the Flashes thrived, catalyzed by freshman guard Marcus Crenshaw.

Crenshaw hit back-to-back 3-pointers in a 9-0 run that pulled Kent State within 50-49 of Buffalo’s lead with 8:25 left in the half. Crenshaw finished with 11 points, short of his career-high 13. He did not score in overtime nor in the final six minutes of regulation. His last basket, a breakaway layup on a lead pass from DeAndre Haynes, pulled the Flashes within a point but still lifted his teammates who were playing flat.

Haynes, a junior point guard who has taken on Crenshaw as an understudy, was one.

“I wasn’t hitting any shots,” Haynes said. “I was kind of broke, and Marcus came off the bench with a lot of energy. We know he can step up and make big shots. I was happy to see him step up and make big shots for us.”

Haynes finished with 13 points. His eight assists were a season high and helped five others score in double figures.

Senior guard Jason Edwin scored a team-high 18 points. Junior guard Jay Youngblood scored 17. Scott Cutley and Kevin Warzynski also scored in double figures. Cutley added 10 rebounds.

“This is a team that was picked to win our (division),” Kent State coach Jim Christian said. “Coming into our building, they played very well. It took a courageous effort for our kids to make it through adversity, which we haven’t done all year. Tonight, I think we took a huge step forward in fighting through adversity and finding a way to win.”

Cutley, like Crenshaw, scrapped momentum together. He drew a go-ahead basket with 1:43 left in regulation. He then grabbed an offensive rebound to keep Kent State’s following possession alive. He, like seemingly anyone wearing a white jersey, could not knock down free throws.

Kent State missed six of its last eight free throws in the second half. When Warzynski finally made two, the last two of regulation, Turner Battle of Buffalo sent the game into overtime with an off-balanced 3 he banked off the backboard.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well from the free-throw line, so you have to do something else,” Christian said. “You have to make a stop. You have to make an offensive rebound.”

Buffalo coach Reggie Witherspoon said offensive rebounds were a deciding factor.

Cutley grabbed five, helping the Flashes grab 15 offensive rebounds to Buffalo’s six. Buffalo’s tallest players, 6-foot-10 Yassin Idbihi and Mark Bortz, combined for nine rebounds — three on the offensive end. Kent State’s tallest player in the game was Warzynski, at 6-8. Cutley, who had 10 boards, is 6-5.

Buffalo entered last night’s game leading the MAC in defensive rebounds.

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