Men’s basketball defeats Furman in overtime

Rachel Jones

The Kent State men’s basketball team held a 65-62 lead over Furman on Friday with one minute left on the clock.

But that confidence crumbled when Furman’s Noah States sank a 3-pointer with 0.12 seconds on the clock, tying the score at 65-65.

Senior guard Rod Sherman tried to end the game with a basket at 0.01 seconds but missed, sending the game into overtime.

The Flashes (4-1) made up for any previous shortcomings in the next five minutes, finishing the game with a 78-74 victory at the M.A.C. Center.

“When there’s five minutes left and we’re up by eight, we’re going to have long possessions on offense,” Kent State coach Geno Ford said. “We had long possessions, but I think we ran out of gas. Our press all of a sudden got sloppy and slow. There was nothing in the tank.”

But junior center Justin Manns jump-started Kent State’s overtime drive with a layup at 4:40.

“It was big to start the overtime like that to give us a little momentum,” junior forward Justin Greene said. “The crowd was into it. It was good.”

The lead remained with three free throws, including two by Greene with 0.04 seconds left.

Ford said Greene, who was double-teamed all game, was the one who really brought home the overtime victory. Greene totaled 23 points and made five rebounds in the win.

“I thought what won us the game in overtime was how he handled the double-team,” Ford said. “He came out and got right out on top of the rim for two easy ones. He hit (Manns), and he hit (junior guard Michael Porrini at 4:04) for two freebees.”

The Flashes ended the first half with a 38-31 lead, but Furman fought back.

“(Furman is) a veteran, strong team and they physically manhandled us in the second half,” Ford said.

Porrini tried to make up for it with 3:33 left in the second half.

After scrambling to get a rebound from junior guard Carlton Guyton, Porrini tipped it in to give the Flashes a 63-53 lead.

The guard said after previously missing three free throws in a row, he knew he had to make up for it somehow.

“Coach is always talking about tough players and people diving on the floor,” Porrini said. “I knew that I had to make a big play, and that was the moment that we needed it the most.”

Offensive rebounds earned Cleveland State a 69-66 comeback victory over the Flashes last Sunday, and with 41 team rebounds, it looked like Furman was going to pull off a similar win.

“I don’t know the coaching to tell a guy when the ball hits the rim, how to go get it,” Ford said. “There is no miracle cure for that. It’s toughness. It’s attitude. It’s all of those kinds of things.”

One player who particularly stood out offensively was freshman forward Robert “Scooter” Johnson. He went 2 for 5 in free throws and had only one assist, but his interior passing boosted the team in the second half.

“I thought Scooter second half was a big lift for us on the offensive end,” Ford said. “He gives us a different dimension: It’s a guy in the post who can pass the ball.”

Scooter’s passes weren’t enough to avoid the overtime period, but Ford attributed that to the Flashes’ difficult schedule.

“If you would’ve told me 4-1 before, I would’ve taken it and ran. We’ve played a lot of good teams, we’ve played a lot of veteran teams and we’ve been able to survive it.”

Ford said he was proud of Friday’s victory, which reminded him of when Kent State played Western Carolina two seasons ago. After trailing in the beginning, the Flashes forced overtime but fell, 89-84.

“It was our fifth game in the week,” Ford said. “We were just dead, dead, dead, and we gave it to them in overtime. This time, we found a way to make it to the finish line with a win.”

Contact sports reporter Rachel Jones at [email protected]