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Published: Sunday, 1/21/2007

Kent deals loss to BGSU

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bowling Green s Matt Lefeld goes high to defend against the Golden Flashes  Haminn Quaintance. Bowling Green s Matt Lefeld goes high to defend against the Golden Flashes Haminn Quaintance.
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KENT, Ohio Bowling Green State University s renewed commitment to its offense and a stretch of good defense hasn t yet translated to a win.

Late Falcon turnovers and a Kent State defensive stop with less than 30 seconds to play meant a 62-61 victory for the Golden Flashes at the M.A.C. Center last night. It was BGSU s fourth straight loss.

When the Falcons had a chance to tie the game near the end, Kent State s Armon Gates stole the ball from Martin Samarco at the top of the key with 11 seconds left. Gates came over to help as Samarco was trying to get a 3-point shot off.

Samarco was shooting the ball so well, you just got the feeling if he was going to get it off, it would go in, Kent State coach Jim Christian said.

But we stepped up, and that s what you have to do to find a way to win in MAC play.

Gates hit two free throws after the steal and Nate Miller hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left to bring the Falcons within one. KSU turned the ball over, but BGSU couldn t come up with a shot with a half second to play.

The Falcons fell to 10-8, 1-4 in the Mid-American Conference. Kent State improved to 10-8, 3-2.

Samarco returned from career-lows in points and minutes on Wednesday to score a game-high 26. He played nearly the entire game and didn t seem to force any shots, finishing 11-for-19 from the floor.

Samarco was the first guy out at practice when we got back out there Friday, BGSU coach Dan Dakich said. He was the first guy talking. That s why he s a great one.

Nate Miller scored 20 and pulled down 14 rebounds. Omni Smith scored 14 points to lead the Flashes. BGSU, which had won the previous two games there, outrebounded KSU 36-25. The drives to the basket and defensive hustle witnessed in the second half against Miami carried over to last night.

BGSU scored 11 points in the final five minutes of the first half to stay within three at halftime. Early in the second half the teams were trading shot for shot. Miller was rarely stopped driving to the basket, and Haminn Quaintance came off the bench to dominate in the post.

With 7:30 left, the Falcons took their first lead since early on Miller s offensive rebound and putback. But the Falcons then turned it over three straight times, and the Flashes turned it into eight points.

Jordan Mincy missed both free throws after getting fouled on the possession following the Falcons third turnover, but Quaintance got an offensive rebound, and Gates hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game to put KSU up seven, a deficit the Falcons never overcame.

They just went on a run there at the end and those are the plays, Dakich said. I thought Kent really stepped up their defense. Gates stepped up.

With 1:15 to play Samarco hit a 3 from the top of the key to bring BGSU within one.

Brian Guerin, a quick substitute for a hurting Ryne Hamblet, fouled Smith with 44 seconds left and Smith made both free throws.

On the Falcons ensuing possession they had some inside looks but chose to go for the 3. Samarco got the ball at the top of the key and looked for some room to shoot, but found nothing.

I didn t expect them to trap it and I picked my dribble up, Samarco said. I was trying to get the ball to Ryne Hamblet in the corner.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:mfulton@theblade.comor 419-724-6160.



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