January 30, 2008

Flashes weather the storm

Ypsilanti, MICH.-- After hitting just two 3-pointers in his last six games, sophomore guard Mike McKee found his stroke Wednesday night at the Convocation Center as the Kent State men's basketball team defeated Eastern Michigan, 77-67. McKee connected on five of eight 3-pointers-including four in the first half-to lead the Golden Flashes with a game-high 19 points.

McKee, who entered the game shooting just 27 percent from behind the arc, said the support he received from the coaching staff gave him the confidence to continue shooting despite his struggles.

"They were always very supportive," McKee said. "Coach (Geno) Ford kept telling me, coach (Eric) Haut, coach (Jim) Christian; he said that's what you do so just keep shooting. You'll turn around, you'll get out of it. Today it felt good to see some shots go in."

A Justin Dobbins dunk gave Eastern Michigan (7-12 overall, 3-4 in the Mid-American Conference) an early 2-0 lead. McKee responded with a three-pointer that gave the Golden Flashes a lead they would relinquish just once throughout the game.

"I think (making two threes against Western Michigan) had a lot to do with it," said McKee about his confidence. "Making two against Western made me realize maybe it's coming back a little bit. We're just going to keep shooting the ball and hopefully keep it going."

The Golden Flashes (17-4, 6-1) took a 39-26 into the break and pushed that lead to 19 early in the second half. McKee hit his fifth 3-pointer, senior forward Mike Scott hit a jumper and senior forward Haminn Quaintance used a two-handed dunk to give Kent State a 50-31 lead with just 14:09 left in the game.

But Eastern didn't quit. The Eagles put together a 7-0 run that cut the lead to 55-41 and then ran off nine-straight points to make it a game at 55-50.

"They got hot; we turned it over," said Kent State head coach Jim Christian. "We just went through a stretch there where we turned it over and I have to give them credit, they could have quit. That's why they are a good team at home and we knew we had to compete for 40 minutes."

The Flashes held off the Eagles, mainly due to the play of sophomore guard Chris Singletary, who made his first appearance since serving a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules. Singletary scored 12 points and two offensive rebounds and hit on four of five free throw attempts down the stretch.

"It had a lot to do with Chris Singletary getting those offensive boards, putting them back in, hitting clutch free throws during that stretch," McKee said. "Not one play stands out, but Chris really helped us on that, weathering the storm if you will."

Junior guard Al Fisher, who came off the bench for just the fifth time this season, contributed with 13 points and a game-high eight assists. Scott scored 10 points and pulled down three boards.

Carlos Medlock led Eastern Michigan with 17 points while Tyler Jones and Jarred Axon each contributed 10.

Kent State returns to action noon Saturday at Toledo. The game will be broadcast on FoxSports Ohio.

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