Flashes advance to MAC Tournament Championship game with win over Ball State


Photo by Philip Botta.

Rachel Jones

The Mid-American Conference couldn’t ask for a better MAC Tournament finale.

The Kent State men’s basketball team defeated Ball State 79-68 Friday to advance to the

MAC Tournament finals against Akron on Saturday.

“It’ll be a good game,” said Kent State coach Geno Ford. “For the players, the focus is

to get to the NCAA Tournament. But it’ll be great for our fan base and the casual college

basketball game.”

Consecutive fouls by the Flashes in the beginning of the second half almost cost them a

chance at that rivalry finale.

But a boost from junior forward Justin Greene helped Kent State cling to its lead and

bypass the Cardinals. Greene led the Flashes with 20 points.

“Stats will be stats, man – I’m just playing,” Greene said.

And he played well, keeping up with Ball State’s Jarrod Jones, the MAC Freshman of the


“Jones was very good,” Ford said. “In previous games, he hasn’t played well. Tonight, he

was fantastic.”

After Kent State held an early lead for most of the first half, Jones helped the Cardinals

tie the game at 17-17 with 13:57 left in the first half.

The teams remained evenly matched, staying either tied or within a basket of each other.

“I thought in the first half, Ball State played at a really high level,” Ford said. “We

couldn’t get them stopped.”

But Kent State regained its lead thanks to junior guard Carlton Guyton’s 3-pointer with

8:11 in the first half.

Quick baskets by Greene and strong defensive plays by junior center Justin Manns helped

the Flashes reach their first half 48-43 lead.

Greene – who led with 12 rebounds – said the defensive grind kept the Flashes in the


“Down the stretch, rebounding is key,” Greene said. “That’s why anytime they got I shot,

I tried to be in there rebounding it.”

While the Flashes held on for a win against Ball State, junior forward Michael Porrini –

who finished with 15 points – said they need to step it up for a win against Akron.

“We all want to win,” Porrini said. “We don’t want to go home.”

The last time they were home, the Flashes overcame Akron 79-68 on March 4.

But three games in three days will take its toll on both teams – no matter how different

they stack up.

“They have a lot of experience and a lot of guys who’ve played a lot of games of this

magnitude before,” Ford explained. “But we have a confidence about us that’s pretty

positive. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

The challenge kicks off at 6 p.m. in the Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday.

The game will be one for the fans, but just in terms of basketball, Ford said it should be a

good game.

“(Looking at) the body of work this season, it’s probably the two best teams in the game

tomorrow night,” Ford said. “Whoever wins will be the one who played the best. One of

us will be jumping around with the banner at the end, and the other will be miserable.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected]