Kent State runs away with 71-51 victory over James Madison


Senior forward Justin Greene drives towards the net during the game against the Blazers November 19 at the M.A.C. Center. The Flahses went on to beat the Blazers 57-48. Photo by Anthony Vence.

Nick Shook

Trailing James Madison by nine early in the second half, Kent State was faced with one of two options: fold and record its first road loss of the season, or fight back.

The Flashes (6-1) chose the latter, as they have all season, and proceeded to outscore the Dukes (4-3) en route to a 71-51 victory. Junior forward and Chesapeake, Va. native Chris Evans led the Kent State comeback with 17 points off the bench. Five Flashes scored in double figures as Kent State shot 52 percent from the floor and made seven of 17 3-point attempts.

Kent State needed an offensive spark after allowing James Madison to start the second half on a 9-2 run and did just that. After a missed 3-pointer from James Madison’s Alioune Diouf, Flashes forward Patrick Jackson slammed home two consecutive dunks to rejuvenate Kent State’s offense. Evans took over from there, as he scored seven of the Flashes’ next 10 points to suddenly give Kent State a five-point lead.

“The guys had some energy about them, Eric Gaines really turned it up defensively, Chris Evans was fantastic and the guys just did what they had to do to win,” Kent State assistant coach Bobby Steinburg said.

Gaines finished the night with 10 points. Senior Michael Porrini continued to excel on both ends of the floor and scored 10 points to go along with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

James Madison ranked as one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation, but it was Kent State that found success from deep range. The Golden Flashes made 7-of-17 3-pointers and their defensive efforts held the Dukes to just 26 percent from behind the arc.

“Coming into the game we told our guys, James Madison is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country,” Steinburg said. “ …6-for-23 from three, we’ll take that.”

Kent State recorded 13 steals and finally found success in the rebounding department, as they out-rebounded James Madison 39-29. The rebounding discrepancy allowed the Flashes to recover from a three-point halftime deficit and run away with a 20-point victory. The Flashes also held former Akron guard and Dukes senior Anthony

“Humpty” Hitchens to just 11 points, well below his 18 points per game average.

With the win, Kent State improved to 6-1 overall and 2-0 on the road. The Flashes will return to Kent for a quick stay at home before continuing their six-game road swing at Western Carolina. Porrini, who originally played for Western Carolina as a freshman, will lead Kent State against his former school on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Flashes defeated Western Carolina, 74-72, in their last meeting in February 2010.

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected] at @Shookie_Cookie.