Kent State men’s basketball squeaks past Western Michigan

Nick Shook

Kent State came away victorious over Western Michigan Saturday night, but it definitely wasn’t easy.

The Flashes trailed by as many as five points late the second half, but were able to force overtime. Kent State increased defensive pressure and made free throws when they needed them most to secure a 78-73 victory in front of 3,762 at the M.A.C. Center.

Kent State’s junior forward Justin Greene made back-to-back layups to cut Western Michigan’s lead to one with 5:27 remaining in the second half, but the Broncos’ Demetrius Ward drew contact and made a layup to extend Western Michigan’s lead to four. The Broncos’ lead grew to five again with 2:29 left in regulation and it appeared as though Kent State might finish with a rare home loss when the Flashes’ offense put together one final stand.

Greene made two free throws to cut the Broncos’ lead to three, and following a steal, junior guard Randal Holt made a 3-pointer two seconds later to suddenly tie the game at 61-61. A defensive stop resulted in another 3-pointer from Holt to give Kent State a 64-61 lead, but Western Michigan’s Matt Stainbrook converted an and-one opportunity to tie the game at 64-64.

A group of Kent State defenders, led by Greene, blocked Stainbrook’s shot attempt with less than five seconds remaining and forced overtime, where they immediately took control of the game. Flashes’ forward Chris Evans scored the first two of his nine overtime points on a put-back dunk to give Kent State a two-point lead that they would never relinquish.

Holt’s block and transition layup gave the Flashes an eight-point lead with 1:04 remaining in the game. However, Western Michigan refused to give in, and one final play gave Kent State the victory.

Leading 76-73 with eight seconds remaining in overtime, Evans missed his second of two free throws. A scramble for the loose ball resulted in Porrini jumping out of bounds to throw the ball off of Western Michigan’s Ward. The ball appeared to glance the out-of-bounds on Porrini, but officials ruled in favor of Kent State. Evans made two final free throws to seal the victory for the Flashes.

Four Flashes scored in double-figures: Justin Greene (19 points), Chris Evans (18 points), Carlton Guyton (14 points) and Randal Holt (13 points). With its fourth-straight win, Kent State improved to 16-6 and 6-3 in the Mid-American Conference.