January 14, 2007
Smith's floater sinks Bobcats in OT
Sometimes becoming a hero happens by accident.
That was the case Sunday afternoon in Kent when senior guard Omni Smith nailed a jumper with just four seconds remaining in overtime to give the Golden Flashes a 67-65 victory over the Ohio University Bobcats in front of 4,263 fans at the M.A.C. Center.
After a three-pointer by Ohio's Bubba Walther tied the score at 65 with just 24 seconds remaining in the extra frame, the Golden Flashes set up a play to get the ball into the hands of senior guard Armon Gates. But, Gates changed things up and instead it was Smith that took the final shot for Kent State.
"It was for our three man, Armon, but I heard him call switch-switch early and he switched back early and I knew the second screen was coming," Smith said about the game-winning play. "I was just trying my best to get in the lane so I could make a play."
Ohio (11-5 overall, 2-1 in the MAC) had one last opportunity to win the game but Whitney Davis' three-pointer bounced off the rim as time expired to seal the victory for the Golden Flashes.
Despite turning the ball over 12 times in the first half, Kent State (9-7, 2-1) led 37-35 at the break. Trailing 15-12 with 11:46 to play in the opening half, Haminn Quaintance and Gates combined to score nine consecutive points to give the Golden Flashes a 21-15 lead.
Quaintance started things off with an offensive rebound and put-back and Gates converted a steal into two points to give Kent State a 16-15 lead with 10:38 on the clock. Quaintance scored again after another Ohio turnover and Gates pushed the lead to 21-15 with a three-pointer with 9:36 remaining.
During that KSU run the Bobcats committed three turnovers.
"We force the most turnovers in the league, so it's something we had been good at," Kent State head coach Jim Christian said. "We have to be able to score from defense for our basketball team to be good. We know that and we're going to give up a couple lay-ups doing it, but overall during the course of the game we're creating a little more havoc out there. That's kind of how we want to play."
That strategy worked as Kent State committed just four turnovers in the second half to Ohio's 12.
The Golden Flashes led by as many as five points in the second half before Ohio tied the game at 55 with just under six minutes left to play. Smith scored off of an offensive rebound to give the Golden Flashes a 57-55 lead with just 2:21 remaining in regulation but Leon Williams tied the game moments later.
With just seconds remaining in the game Walther rebounded a Smith three-point attempt but freshman Rodriquez Sherman came up with a steal to push the game into overtime.
Quaintance, who along with Smith and Gates, scored 13 points to pace the Golden Flashes, added 13 rebounds to record his second consecutive and fourth double-double of the season. He finished the game 6 of 13 from the field, but missed on several put-back opportunities.
"He had six offensive rebounds and he had 13 rebounds in the game; we need that from him," Christian said. "I'm not worried about him finishing down there, he's going to finish. Sometimes it's just not your night but when you're not scoring, you go and get 13 rebounds. He does a lot of things that aren't on the stat sheet to help us win."
Unlike last week when Kent State couldn't hold onto a late lead at Miami, the Golden Flashes executed down the stretch and made key plays to turn back any chances of an Ohio rally.
"We just kept playing hard and that's what you have to do," Christian said. "This is MAC basketball; this is it. Three minutes to go you have to give yourself a chance to win and somebody has to make plays. All you have to do is look around the league and that's what's going on right now. Every game is close and tight, for the most part. You just have to find a way (to win). That's kind of the way we like it."
Kent State has now won four straight games against Ohio. The Golden Flashes travel to cross-town rival Akron on Wednesday.
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