Men’s basketball loses close one to Akron

Final score
Akron: 65 Kent: 62
Game highlights

Akrons Zeke Marshall scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds
Kent States Rod Sherman scored a team-high 19 points
Michael Porrini was the Flashes second leading scorer with 12 points

Final score Akron: 65 Kent: 62 Game highlights Akron’s Zeke Marshall scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds Kent State’s Rod Sherman scored a team-high 19 points Michael Porrini was the Flashes’ second leading scorer with 12 points

Rachel Jones

For sports editor Cody Erbacher’s thoughts, see his column.


“It hurts,” senior guard Rod Sherman said. “We really wanted to win this game, of course, being a rivalry game. We just couldn’t make shots when we needed to make them.”

But Kent State posted some key shots that made a victory look possible.

Starting the second half down 30-27, sophomore guard Randal Holt and junior forward Justin Greene sank layups in less than a minute, giving the Flashes a 31-30 lead.

Junior guard Michael Porrini, who scored 12 total points in the Mid-American Conference season opener, carried on the momentum with seven points in a row.

Sherman, who finished with 19 points, knocked in a basket with 12:34 on the clock to put the Flashes ahead 43-36.

But 3-pointers by senior point guard Steve McNees and senior forward Brett McKnight jumpstarted the Zips (10-5, 1-0 MAC) to close Kent State’s lead to just 53-52 with five minutes remaining.

“McKnight just kicked our butt, which he seems to do,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “I’m glad his father quit having kids.”

Foul shots by Holt and junior center Justin Manns gave the Flashes a 55-53 lead, but 7-foot sophomore center Zeke Marshall successfully drained a bucket to tie up the game.

Marshall followed with two successful foul shots to take a 57-55 lead with 2:28 remaining. The Zips continued to put pressure on the Kent State defense for the remainder of the game to maintain the lead.

With 14.7 seconds on the clock, freshman forward Darius Leonard banked in a 3-pointer from the corner to cut into the Zips lead, 63-62.

It looked like a comeback was in the workings.

“I said, ‘Thank you, Jesus,’ about twenty times,” Sherman said. “It was a great clutch shot by Darius.”

Two foul shots by senior guard Darryl Roberts with 11.2 seconds left put the Zips up 65-62.

With time running down, Porrini shot a 3-pointer from the left side in the final seconds of the game, but it bounced off the rim to the right.

“I thought he made it,” Ford said. “We ball screened for Rod, and they double-teamed him. In that situation, that’s as good of a look we could ask for.”

Sherman said he also thought the shot went in.

“I had faith in him,” Sherman said. “That’s why I passed to him. It just didn’t go in our favor.”

Despite the loss, Ford said the Flashes (9-6, 0-1 MAC) played with a toughness and competitive edge he has not seen since Christmas.

“As disappointed as I am that we got beat, it’s the first time in three games that we showed signs of life,” Ford said. “We fought enough to win tonight, but we didn’t execute enough.”

Ford also said a lack of depth contributed to the loss.

“All of these guys are playing extended minutes,” Ford explained. “It’s too much. We’re really thin right now, and those guys are fighting through.”

The thin lineup stems from the 10 new faces on the team this season.

Although Sherman said they maintained composure, the freshmen were not prepared for the intense, hostile atmosphere at Rhodes Arena.

“(In the first half,) we had 10 turnovers, but they had two steals,” Ford said. “That, to me, was a very telling statistic for how nervous we must have been.”

Now in a three-game losing streak, the Flashes are hoping a victory over Bowling Green at the M.A.C. Center on Tuesday at 7 p.m. will help them out of this rut.

“In reality, it’s a tough league,” Ford said. “There hasn’t been a repeat champ in 20 years. (But) if we can carry over the effort and energy level that we had (Saturday night), we’re going to win our fair share of games.”

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].