Kent State Falters In The Second Half In 69-66 Loss At Cleveland State
A 16-point second half lead slips away from the Golden Flashes
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Kent State led by as many as 16-points in the second half, but it wasn't enough as the Golden Flashes fell to 2-1 on the year in a 69-66 loss to host Cleveland State in the final game of the World Vision Classic on Sunday night. After playing three games in three-days, the Kent State basketball team will have little rest as the home portion of the schedule commences in front of a nationally televised ESPN audience on Tuesday at 8:00 a.m.
"We tried to treat this tournament like the Mid-American Conference Tournament at the end of the year being that it was three-games in three-days here in Cleveland," said Head Coach Geno Ford. "Hopefully if we are fortunate enough to get back in this same situation in March we will have learned from this and be more prepared to take care of business."
Junior forward Justin Greene (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) scored the first six points for the Blue and Gold and ended the night with a team high 17 points to go along with seven rebounds and three blocked shots. He was joined on the all-tournament team by junior guard Carlton Guyton (Chicago, Ill. / Mineral Area J.C. [Mo.]), who added 10 points and three rebounds in tonight's game. Junior guard Michael Porrini (Massillon, Ohio/Gulf Coast C.C. [Fla.]) was in double figures as well adding 10 points and seven rebounds as did junior center Justin Manns (Winston-Salem, N.C./Owens C.C. [Ohio]), who also blocked three shots.
Kent State extended an 11-point halftime lead to 16 in the first four minutes of the second half after Greene scored his 14th point of the game on an inside feed from Guyton. Cleveland State (3-0) quickly responded on the other end with a three from Trey Harmon that set off a 24-5 run by the Vikings over the next nine minutes of action. The Vikings capped off the stretch with a another three, this one from Tim Kamczyc to take a 53-50 lead with seven minutes remaining.
"We lost our poise and didn't Kent State basketball the last 10 minutes of the game," said Greene. "Instead of stretching the lead we let them get on a roll and come back."
Trailing by four with under five minutes to play, Manns got free from a dunk inside that was followed by a defensive stop and then a three from Guyton which moved the Golden Flashes back on top by one (57-56) with 4:26 still on the clock. Cleveland State regained the lead on the other end and eventually held a two-point margin when the clock ticked under two minutes. Guyton canned another long jumper at 1:41, but with his toe on the line only tied the game.
After an offensive rebound and ensuing lay-up from Norris Cole, the Golden Flashes turned the ball over against the Cleveland State press, then got whistled for a technical. Cole, who shot 11-13 from the foul line and led the Vikings with 21 points, then hit four straight free throws to put Kent State in a six-point hole with a mere 46 seconds left. The Golden Flashes continued to fight however, and following a pair of free throw misses by Harmon with 10 seconds remaining, had one last chance to send the game into overtime. After getting a time-out at 1.3 seconds, Kent State in-bounded the ball on the base line leaving Greene an open look from the left corner, but the 6-8 post player's first career three-point attempt fell short as the buzzer sounded.
Kent State shot 40 percent for the game and won the rebounding battled by a 47-42 count. The Golden Flashes also matched a school record for blocked shots with eight. Kent State has had eight blocked shots in a single game seven other times including on Jan. 4, 2010 when it was last accomplished. After hitting on just 29.3 percent in the first half, Cleveland State warmed up and made 44.1 percent in the second. The second half performance included a 4-9 effort from three which followed an 0-7 shooting in the game's first 20 minutes. After allowing just six points off turnovers in the first two games combined, the Golden Flashes were outscored 21-4 in the category tonight.
"They were having trouble guarding us man-to-man in the first half and when they went to zone in the second we struggled and just took turns missing shots," said Head Coach Geno Ford. "When you are missing consistently like we were its hard to keep defending, but the bottom line is we didn't guard nearly well enough in the second half."
The game was tight through the first four minutes of the game before the Kent State defense stepped up. After hitting on 3-6 from the field to start the game, the Golden Flashes held the Vikings to just 3-17 shooting over the next 10 minutes. With the defensive pressure creating stops on one end, the inside-outside duo of Porrini and Manns helped carry the Kent State offense. Porrini hit a pair of three-pointers while Manns added six points during a 14-2 run that gave the Golden Flashes a 10-point advantage. Kent State would eventually take a 34-23 lead into the break.
The Golden Flashes will open their home slate on Tuesday, November 16 against Robert Morris at 8:00 a.m. For tickets to all Kent State home games call 330-672-2244.