Kent vs. Akron: “Like the world came down on me”

Rachel Jones

The final seconds slipped off the clock. The buzzer rang out. And Michael Porrini crashed to the court with his head in his hands.

The Kent State men’s basketball team had just lost the Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship to Akron 66-65 in overtime Saturday.

“It just felt like the world came down on me,” the junior guard said later, tears still in his eyes.

Junior center Justin Manns ripped off his jersey in disgust, yelling to his teammates, who dropped their heads in disbelief and disappointment, as well.

As the Zips celebrated in each other’s arms, parading around the Quicken Loans Arena court in a rainstorm of blue, green and silver confetti, a crowd of players accidentally stepped on the mourning Porrini.

One Akron player reached to help Porrini up, but he jumped up on his own. And a shoving match between the teams broke out, leaving trainers and other officials who were trying to stop the fight laying the court.

But the fighting was also present during the game, as the Flashes tied up the game and forced it into overtime after losing an early first-half lead.

“The game was close to being over at the five-minute mark, and (sophomore guard Randal Holt) banged back-to-back threes,” said Geno Ford Kent State Coach.

The extra points from Holt and junior guard Carlton Guyton kept the Flashes alive when Akron crept back into the lead. Both guards finished with a team-high of 14 points.

With the game tied at 59-59, Guyton lined up for the game-winning 3-pointer with 42 seconds on the clock, but he hit the rim.

Senior guard Rod Sherman stole back Akron’s rebound but did not have enough time to create a picturesque final play.

Final score

Akron: 66

Kent State: 65

Game highlights

  • The Zips had 29 points off the bench
  • Carlton Guyton and Randal Holt led Kent State with 14 points a piece
  • Michael Porrini led the Flashes with 9 rebounds

“Rod’s shot was, I mean, he was trying to beat the buzzer and flip it, so it wasn’t necessarily a shot,” Ford said.

Looking for an overtime comeback, Holt started the five-minute period like he did the first half of the game — with a 3-pointer in the first 30 seconds.

Confidence increased then quickly plummeted when junior forward Justin Greene fouled out with 3:33 on the clock.

“I take full responsibility for this loss,” Greene said. “I didn’t do what I was supposed to do in a championship game, for me being the player I am.”

To make up for it, Kent State started firing up its offense. But not enough shots went in, including those from the foul line.

“You could search for 100 years, and I don’t know if you’d find a box score where a team got nine more shots than another team in overtime and lost,” Ford said. “We could not finish the entire night. It was a bad night to shoot 50 percent from the foul line.”

The veteran Zips maintained their composure in the stretch, pulling themselves up to a 66-65 lead.

When Kent State regained possession in the final seconds, Porrini said the plan was to have somebody — anybody — score.

“I think we all thought somebody was going to get a shot off of it,” Porrini said. “When we came down the court, it was a little discombobulated. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to (score).”

Porrini, Guyton and Sherman all had final shots in the game, but they either hit the rim or the hands of an Akron player making a block.

When the buzzer sounded, Greene said he thought of Sherman.

“That’s what’s really what hurting me the most — more than this game, more than losing — just the fact that we lost it for Rod,” Greene said. “The game doesn’t even matter anymore.”

But Ford said the team shouldn’t focus on the game anymore.

“It’s tough because we had a great year,” Ford said. “I don’t want our guys to lose sight of that. Hopefully, we can make a nice run in the NIT, and look at the big picture.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].