Men’s basketball beats Toledo

Rachel Jones

The Kent State men’s basketball team defeated Toledo 72-55 at the M.A.C. Center on Sunday – the 42nd road loss in a row for the Rockets.

“(Toledo) is scrappy,” said Geno Ford, Kent State coach. “They’ll keep playing. You have to give them credit for that.”

Scrappy or not, the Rockets (4-17, 1-6 MAC) failed to take the lead or even tie the game at any point.

Final score

Kent State: 72

Toledo: 55

Game highlights

  • Justin Greene led the Flashes in scoring with 20 points
  • Toledo’s Reese Holliday scored a team-high 12 points
  • The Flashes are 14-7 (5-2), 3rd in the MAC East

Junior center Justin Manns halted any Toledo momentum by swatting the ball away from his opponent in the first few plays of the game. Manns totaled four blocks, which is a season high for the Flashes and a career-high for himself.

“The scariest thing about any game is giving the other team hope,” Ford said. “You don’t want to have a bad start or let them get the lead.”

But Manns’ blocks only left Toledo scared.

Ford said when players have easy baskets prevented early on they will be more hesitant or prone to mistakes at their next attempts.

“Justin Manns is a huge presence,” said junior forward Justin Greene. “A lot of times, he tends to foul when he doesn’t mean to, but he did a good job today. All we really need him to do is change shots.”

Two 3-pointers by sophomore guard Randal Holt in the first three minutes added to the Flashes’ momentum and increased the Flashes lead to 10-2. Holt and junior guard Carlton Guyton were the only players to make two 3-pointers.

“When Holt hit his first two, we got the big lead right away,” Ford said. “(Guyton and Holt) give us some balance. (They’re) two guys who not only can shoot, but also get in the lane off the dribble and make pretty good decisions in the paint.”

Greene also contributed in the lane, avoiding the double-teaming that previously gave him a hard time.

With two minutes left in the first half, Greene snuck around a Toledo double-team to toss a one-hander into the basket for a 36-22 Kent State lead.

“I pretty much knew from the beginning of the season how (the double-team situation) was going to be,” Greene said. “Everybody is playing well, so it’s taking the pressure off of me.”

The Flashes ended the first half up 39-24, but Ford said he was a little disappointed in how the second half played out.

“In the early part (of the game), we got a big lead,” Ford explained. “And it’s difficult with teams with only one senior to understand how to play that the whole time. I thought we fell asleep for a little bit in the second half. Our energy and concentration level were poor, to say the least.”

The team started the half strong with Manns scoring in the first 15 seconds.

Twenty seconds later, junior guard Michael Porrini stole the ball from a Toledo player and quickly passed it off to Greene, who sank a layup for a 43-24 lead.

“Tonight, I had a Justin-Greene-type of game,” Greene said with a laugh.

Ford said he knew Greene was in his regular scoring mode when Greene sank two jump shots, which is often hindered by double-teaming defenders.

“When I saw him hit that jump shot in the first half, I thought, ‘Oh, he’s going to play today,’” Ford said. “He was getting back to what makes him good.”

According to Ford, Greene had one of his best defensive games against Ball State on Thursday. Greene picked up his offensive game on Sunday, totaling 20 points and earning his seventh double-double this season.

“For us to win a championship, he has to play at an elite level,” Ford said.

While the game at Western Michigan on Wednesday at 7 p.m. will be a test for the Flashes (14-7, 5-2 MAC), Ford said the team is in a good spot for the rest of the season.

“We’ve finally put ourselves in a position where we’ll be in a chase for the championship up until the last week of the season,” Ford said.

Contact Rachel Jones at [email protected].