Men’s basketball fights for victory over Eastern Michigan

Rachel Jones

The Kent State men’s basketball team defeated Eastern Michigan 80-70 Wednesday in the M.A.C. Center, earning its fifth-straight win.

Down six points with 12:37 left in the first half, the Flashes (16-7, 7-2 Mid-American Conference) fought to finish the half 40-34.

Junior Justin Greene’s 19 points in the first half played a major role in the team’s early success.

Final score

Kent State: 80

Eastern Michigan: 70

Game highlights

  • Justin Greene led the Flashes with 23 points
  • Brandon Bowdry of East. Michigan led all scorers with 25 points
  • Kent State is 16-7 (7-2), 1st MAC East

“I think my teammates realized (Eastern Michigan) wasn’t coming to me with the double-team,” Greene said. “I was pretty comfortable. Shots were falling.”

Greene finished the game with a team-high 23 points, and Kent State coach Geno Ford said he thought Greene had an incredible first half.

Junior center Justin Manns sank a rim-grabbing dunk two minutes into the second half as an attempt to motivate his teammates to continue fighting, which sophomore guard Randal Holt took literally.

With 5:56 left in the game, an Eastern Michigan player fouled junior guard Michael Porrini, prompting Holt to foul an Eagles player.

Holt turned to the crowd and roared, beating his chest with one fist and high-fiving his teammates with the other hand.

The rebuttal resulted in two foul shots, but only one was successful.

Holt shook it off and sank a 3-pointer a minute later, giving the Flashes a 74-62 lead.

Porrini also recovered, finishing the game with 15 points and a career-high eight assists.

Also causing problems for the Flashes was Eastern Michigan’s Brandon Bowdry.

The forward not only finished with 25 points, but Greene also said Bowdry is known for trash-talking during games.

“I know he’s a little trash talker, but we’re up to the challenge,” Greene said. “As long as we’re talking trash and getting things done, that’s all that matters.”

Bowdry stirred up the Flashes with eight points in the first four minutes of the game.

“When people come to Kent, they play like it’s the championship,” Porrini said. “We knew (Bowdry) was going to get a lot of shots. For us to win the game, we had to keep him in control the best way we could.”

For Porrini, that means playing physical.

The former football player said making contact while guarding is fun, although it makes him foul frequently. Porrini had four fouls in the second half.

Eastern Michigan (6-17, 3-7 MAC) attempted to edge out the Flashes with its 10 free throw points, but the home team would not let the gap get smaller than nine points.

“We didn’t finish the game in the Kent State tradition,” Greene said. “Usually, we would have pushed up the lead. We’re going to clean it up.”

Sloppy or not, Kent State is still first in the MAC East and continues to sweep the MAC West.

“No team from the east has swept the west for one year,” Ford said. “It’s not that the west is bad, we’re just a better team now than we were. Nobody knows how that’s going to turn out, but the team in our locker room now is better than the team from December. It’s key we don’t forget what makes us successful: scoring from the field and turnovers.”

But with 18 turnovers, the Flashes can still be proud of their 50 percent scoring from the field.

Ford said the Kent State defense was a little off, but smart Eagles offense forced the turnovers.

The Flashes will try for a defensive redemption at Northern Illinois on Saturday at 4 p.m. as a part of their three road games in seven days.

“We just have to hang in there, fight and be appreciative that we’re in a position where we still control our fate,” Ford said. “Three weeks to go, and we’re dealing all the cards.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].