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December 16, 2008KENT--Kent State used a 16-0 second half run to put away a frisky Youngstown State team, 82-74, on Monday night in front of 2,518 at the M.A.C. Center.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Golden Flashes (4-5), their longest since the 1997-1998 season.
Senior guard Al Fisher scored 20 points and junior guard Chris Singletary added 14.
Fisher notched a career high in points at the M.A.C. Center.
Vance Cooksey and Kelvin Bright had 24 and 21 points respectively to lead Youngstown State (1-7, 0-2).
The game won't be sent to Springfield, Mass., at the Basketball Hall of Fame, but Kent State will take the much-needed win. It appeared in the first half that the team that lost to Western Carolina nine days ago was the team out on the floor on Monday night.
Ten turnovers, 3-7 from the free throw line and 0-6 from three-point range allowed the Penguins to take a 31-29 lead at the break.
A Fisher turnover with four seconds left allowed Bright to go coast to coast and lay in the ball as the buzzer sounded to give Youngstown State the momentum, and the Blue and Gold faithful wondering what happened to KSU's home dominance.
Kent State's second half run started at the 17:09 mark with a lay up by freshman Justin Greene and ended on Singletary's old fashioned three point play at the 12:37 mark.
The run included seven Youngstown State turnovers that allowed Kent State to take control of the game.
"For the whole week all we did was defensive practice," said head coach Geno Ford. "Defensively I thought for the first 15 minutes in the second half we were outstanding and that was the best we've looked."
Kent State held a 20-point lead, 66-46, with 7:03 remaining in the game. From there the Flashes struggled to put away the Penguins, bringing some sloppy play down the stretch from both teams.
Kent State will attempt to keep its momentum going on Thursday night when they meet UNC Greensboro at 7:00 p.m. at the MACC.
DiMaria decides to transfer: The Kent State roster now only has 14 players on it. That is because redshirt freshman Antonio DiMaria has decided to transfer to Highland Community College in Kansas. DiMaria was caught up in a tough situation at KSU with many talented, similar players in front of him in Geno Ford's rotation. DiMaria, whose ideal position would be the 3, has players like Singletary, Rashad Woods and Frank Henry-Ala all playing a similar position. DiMaria will play for Coach Patrick Nee, the brother of Danny Nee, who recruited DiMaria to play in his hometown of Pittsburgh, at Duquesne. When Nee resigned in 2006, DiMaria ended up at Kent State.
"We are going to miss having Antonio as a member of our basketball family, but we also respect his desire for significant minutes," Ford said. "He was caught in a logjam here playing a position where we have a couple all-conference caliber wings. Antonio is a great kid. He was a great representative of Kent State when he was here. We wish him all the best."
Evans on Thursday? Tyree Evans is expected to make his Kent State debut on Thursday night vs. UNC Greensboro. Kent State is supposed to release its Fall Semester grades on Tuesday.
"I'm sure he's anxious," Ford said. "He's done a great job at practice. He did a great job academically this semester."
New man on the mic: The M.A.C. Center had a different public address announcer on Monday night. Hopefully longtime announcer Jeff Kurtz is back on Thursday. While the new P.A. Announcer livened up the game with his remarks such as "Chris Singletary shares the sugar" and "Julian Sullinger with a Windex", he also announced Kent State associate head coach Rob Senderoff as Rob "Sendendorf". Coach Senderoff has had a tough last year; he deserves to at least have his name pronounced correctly at his home gym. Overall, we weren't crazy with the new announcer's pizzazz for the Golden Flashes, and we'd like to stick with the traditional voice of Kurtz.
Henry-Ala's Spark: Junior forward Frank Henry-Ala had his best game in a Golden Flashes uniform on Monday night. The 6-foot-5 native of Pasadena, Calif., scored seven points and had three rebounds. He knocked in one of Kent State's three pointers and hit both of this free throw attempts. Henry-Ala gave a nice spark on defense with a steal and some solid defense in his 12 minutes.
"Hopefully we'll be able to use him more because he can play some defense," Ford said.
Turnovers creeping up: Even though Kent State entered the game second in the MAC in turnover margin and second in assist/turnover ratio, for the third straight game Kent State committed more turnovers than they had assists. In the past three games Kent State has committed 45 turnovers and produced 34 assists.
Previewing UNC Greensboro: The Spartans come into the game at 1-6, including 0-4 on the road and are coming off a 53-97 thumping to the hands of East Carolina on Saturday night. Mike Dement is in his fourth season at the helm of UNC Greensboro. Mikko Koivisto, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, leads the Spartans at 13.7 points per game. Damian Eargle from nearby Warren Harding High School, is a 6-foot-7 freshman and is averaging 5.5 points per game, including one start.