Kent State falls to Colorado in NIT Quarterfinals

Rachel Jones

The No.7 Kent State men’s basketball team fell to No.1 Colorado 81-74 in the NIT quarterfinals Tuesday.

“That’s right up there with the championship game we lost to Akron,” said junior forward Justin Greene. “It’s tough because we have one senior, and we wanted to get to the (finals in Madison Square Garden) for him.”

Although the Flashes looked like underdogs compared to Colorado – who Kent State coach Geno Ford said should have made it to the NCAA Tournament – they did start off with a close game.

The teams nearly matched each other point for point, bringing Colorado up just 36-31 at the half.

Greene said Ford told the players to keep grinding and make it a one or two-possession game. Greene responded, finishing with a team-high 20 points.

The Flashes got their edge halfway through the second half, scoring 13 points in five minutes.

Sophomore guard Randal Holt posted a 3-pointer with 7:39 for a 64-61 lead.

Colorado answered with five points in less than a minute, but junior guard Michael Porrini made it 67-66 with 5:30 left in the game.

Ford said the Flashes made it to the rim several times but couldn’t score. Those unfinished baskets were crucial for keeping pace with the Buffalos and continuing to match their points.

Colorado also made the rebounds and undefended shots in the final minutes to pull them up 77-72 with 2:33 to go.

“They made more plays at the end,” Ford said. “That’s been our trademark all year – getting stops down the stretch – we just weren’t able to do it. That’s because they had better offense then we had defense.”

With less than two minutes to go, Sherman lined up for a 3-pointer to tie the game but missed.

Sherman said when Porrini passed him the ball, he was ready to take the shot, and“it felt good when it left my hands. It just didn’t go in.”

Seconds later, the senior fouled out for the first time in his career.

While Sherman said he was upset he couldn’t be there for his teammates in the final minutes of the game, the fact that it was the last game of his college career made it tougher.

“Being my last college game, it’s hard,” Sherman said. “I know my future’s really bright right now, but I love this place. It’s kind of hard.”

Ford said even the players who will return next year are upset the season is over.

“As a coach, you don’t get that,” Ford said. “Sometimes you have teams where they kind of want it to be over. These guys gave it their all. We just came up a little bit short.”

Looking ahead, Greene said he’s ready to put the loss behind him, go back to Kent and start preparing for his senior season next year.

“We have (almost) everybody else returning and some pretty top recruits coming in,” Greene said. “We just have to get back to the drawing board and get ready for next year.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected]