Flashes men’s basketball defeats Western Michigan

Rachel Jones

Michael Porrini single-handedly helped the Kent State men’s basketball team defeat Western Michigan 74-72 on Monday, but two days earlier, he did not even know if he could use his shooting hand.

During the ESPNU BracketBuster game on Feb. 18, a Drexel player fouled Porrini as he was driving to the basket. The junior guard fell, jamming his right hand as he hit the floor.

He went to a Philadelphia hospital on Saturday for an X-ray, but there was nothing on the scan.

Just to be safe, Kent State coach Geno Ford did not start Porrini against Western Michigan on Monday.

Four minutes into the game, Porrini made his debut and remained in the main rotation.

“Coach (Ford) saw that I was hot, and he kept going to me,” Porrini said. “The team helped dramatically, and I was able to get to the bucket and get the points.”

Nineteen points to be exact – the highest on the team.

But the final few points were the ones that meant the most.

After senior guard Rod Sherman earned the Flashes the lead for the first time in the second half, Porrini scored on an acrobatic jumper with 1:06 on the clock.

A Bronco player fouled him on the way down, and Porrini’s effortless foul shot put the Flashes up 72-70.

Western Michigan scored again 20 seconds later, tying things up at 72-72.

Porrini rebounded the ball, and Ford used the team’s final timeout.

“The offensive rebound that Mike got won the game as much as the shot that he hit,” Ford said.

2011 Mid-American Conference Men’s Basketball Standings

East Division MAC Overall

Kent State 9-3 18-9

Miami 9-3 14-13

Buffalo 7-5 16-9

Akron 7-5 17-10

Bowling Green 7-5 12-15

Ohio 6-6 14-13

West Division MAC Overall

Western Michigan7-5 15-11

Ball State 7-5 15-11

Central Michigan 5-7 8-18

Eastern Michigan 4-8 8-18

Northern Illinois 3-9 7-18

Toledo 1-11 4-23

But the shot was pretty cool.

After eating up the 48 seconds on the clock, Porrini scored the winning basket with just two seconds left in the game.

“Porrini was fantastic the last five or six minutes of the game,” Ford said. “He won us the game at the end – everyone knows that. But really, we had a lot of guys contribute. Mike just took over and made a couple huge plays for us.”

Those plays also contributed to the Flashes (18-9, 9-3 Mid-American Conference) tying with Miami for the first place seed in the MAC East.

“We feel we’re the best team in the league,” Porrini said. “We know that, and since we know that, nobody can tell us that we’re not.”

And it’s not just movie-like, game-winning baskets that got them there. The Flashes attribute much of their success to their defense.

Even after the game-winning shot, Porrini continued to play hard, showing his defensive toughness.

Western Michigan threw the ball across the court for a last chance to tie up the game, but Porrini stole the ball in midair.

“For us to win, our defense has to be big,” Porrini said.

With 47 steals this season, the most in the MAC, he should know.

As the Flashes move on to face Buffalo on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center, Porrini will not expect to have an equally amazing game as he did against Western Michigan. Instead, he will try to continue playing his best and staying tough.

“Nobody is going to play good every night,” Porrini said. “If we don’t come to play, then we will lose.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].