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The Golden Flashes looked like the potential top

By Allen Moff Record-Courier staff writer Published: November 20, 2001 12:00 AM

The Golden Flashes looked like the potential top 25 team that's captured national attention at times, but also stumbled through various lulls and lapses while rolling over outmanned Division II Mercyhurst 90-68 Monday night at the M.A.C. Center.

And that's usually how game one goes, even for a predominantly veteran squad with high aspirations like Kent State.

"There's just something about playing that first game," said Flashes senior star Trevor Huffman, shaking his head somewhat in disgust. "You always go through ups and downs. You don't defend as well as you'd like. It's hard to be patient and look for better shots when you get that first open look. No matter what you do, you're never satisfied."

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Rookie head coach Stan Heath and his troops certainly weren't content with their opening day showing, especially on the defensive end.

The unheralded Lakers (2-1) had no trouble generating open shots in the paint or from 3-point range in the first 10 minutes, when they produced 23 points and trailed by just two.

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"The most disappointing part of the game to me was definitely our defense," said Heath. "We gave them too many open looks. We didn't fight for position inside, and we didn't get a hand up on their shooters. Defense has to be a staple with this team."

Concerns on offense centered around Kent State's apparent lack of interest in pounding the ball inside against undersized Mercyhurst's zone. The Flashes hoisted a whopping 29 3-pointers on the night, including 17 in the first half alone.

"I don't see that being a norm, but I also didn't think many of (the 3-pointers) were bad shots," said Heath, whose squad buried 10 long-range bombs. "We have good shooters on this team, and I'm not going to handicap them. But I also think teams here in the past have been guard-oriented, and didn't really look to throw the ball inside. That's something I need to stress more."

While Heath's Flashes may need some fine-tuning, they're potential also oozed out on occasion during Monday's opener _ especially during a near seven-minute stretch midway through the second half, when they clicked on virtually all cylinders.

Kent State picked up the intensity on both ends of the floor behind Huffman (17 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds), senior backcourt mate Andrew Mitchell (team-high 18 points, 7 assists, 5 boards), senior strongman Demetric Shaw and junior newcomer Antonio Gates during a 19-4 run that turned a somewhat competitive 65-44 game into an 82-48 rout.

Even centers John Edwards (8 points, 3 rebounds) and Nate Gerwig (8 points, 4 rebounds) got into the act offensively, after struggling throughout the first half.

"There was a stretch in the second half where we really looked good," said Heath. "That gave me a glimpse of how good we can be."

Flashes fans caught a peek at their new power forward, Gates, who turned in an impressive debut performance with 13 points and 11 rebounds in 27 highly active minutes.

"I'm just trying to provide some energy, since I'm the new guy," said Gates. "I just try to focus on doing what coach (Heath) wants done."

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E-mail: amoff@recordpub.net

Phone: (330) 678-5460

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Kent State 90, Mercyhurst 68

(At M.A.C. Center)

MERCYHURST

NAMEMINFG3-PTFTRBPFATP

Marshall253-40-00-01106

Helm315-110-06-743216

Melle319-193-52-252123

Shouse315-132-60-030312

Steuer190-10-00-03120

Fleckenstein20-00-00-00010

Horner202-60-30-02214

Delsandro161-20-12-21024

Carr120-00-00-04200

Jankus111-11-10-01103

Burke20-10-00-00000

_____________________________________________

Totals20026-586-1610-1127121268

KENT STATE

NAMEMINFG3-PTFTRBPFATP

Shaw223-91-40-14207

Gates275-90-03-5112013

Edwards104-50-00-03108

Mitchell318-152-80-051718

Huffman366-103-72-351917

Gerwig164-60-00-04108

Merritt20-00-00-00000

Haut60-10-10-00010

Wilkins183-63-50-14129

Bedford164-61-21-110210

Thomas140-30-20-02210

Pellegrino20-00-00-01100

_____________________________________________

Totals20037-7010-296-1143122290

MERCYHURST3929_68

KENT STATE5238_90

Blocked Shots _ Mercyhurst (1): Melle 1; Kent State (2): Edwards 1, Huffman 1. Turnovers _ 15-15. Technical fouls _ None. Attendance _ 4,216.


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