Men’s basketball earns 500th home win



Rachel Jones

The Kent State men’s basketball team dunked its way to a 66-53 victory over Central Michigan and its 500th win in the M.A.C. Center on Saturday.

Junior center Justin Manns showcased his signature, rim-grabbing dunk three times in the game.

Gaines sank one-handed dunks with 2:40 left in the first half and 12:17 left in the game.

“Eric Gaine’s dunk was really good,” said senior guard Rod Sherman said. “The guy can dunk so high.”

After junior forward Justin Greene’s dunk with 3:31 left in the game, Sherman decided he wanted to join the dunk club, too.

The guard slammed one with one minute left in the game, giving the Flashes a 66-49 lead in the process. Sherman led the team with 17 points.

The Flashes (15-7, 6-2) were up 33-19 at the half, and the Chippewas hacked at the Kent State lead with a series of successful free throws.

Sherman said he felt like the runs would put Central Michigan back in the game.

“We try to come out on top of it again (in the second half), but we saw ourselves getting dead out there,” Sherman said. “Randal (Holt) sparked that up. He said, ‘We’re looking dead, fellahs.’ (I agreed, and) we stepped it up after that.”

Geno Ford, Kent State coach, said the team needed to not only find its rhythm offensively, but also affect Central Michigan’s turnovers.

“We’re one of the leaders in 3-point defense, field-goal defense and steals,” Ford said. “But that team takes better care of the ball than any other team, averaging 12 turnovers. We needed our defense to impact their turnovers, and we were able to get some of that.”

Central Michigan (6-16, 3-6) had 17 turnovers.

Junior guard Michael Porrini made a strong impact on the defense, holding Central Michigan’s top scorer, Trey Zeigler, to 12 points.

“It’s hard for a guard to make a defensive presence,” said Ford. “We’ve had some really good defenders here, and Mike’s impacted our team defensively in a different way. He’s versatile — he can cover anyone.”

Ford said Sherman used to be the guard to cover the top offensive players, but Porrini recently stepped up.

“Mike possesses a rare package of quickness, strength and energy level,” Ford said. “He’s tough to score on because he has a good body, and he’s quick. Usually, guys who are strong tend to be slow.”

But Porrini, who earned a career-high four steals Saturday, is quickly taking some of the pressure off Sherman by covering the top shooters — which Sherman said he is thankful for.

“That is so wonderful,” Sherman said with a laugh. “(Guarding the best player) is a lot of pressure, and it takes a lot out of you. Mike’s been doing a great job with it. He’s very physical, and he made (Zeigler) work for everything.”

With a four-game winning streak under their belts, the Flashes will be making Eastern Michigan work for everything Wednesday in the M.A.C. Center at 7 p.m.

“We just have to keep this thing rolling,” Sherman said. “This snowball’s going down the hill, and it’s getting bigger and bigger. That’s what we want to do. We’re just trying to win another championship.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].