Kent State Secures Bye Into MAC Quarterfinals With 68-61 Win Over Ohio
Golden Flashes post 20th win for the 13th time in 14 years
Box Score (.PDF)
KENT, Ohio – Kent State (20-9; 10-5 MAC) clinched a bye into the Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinals and kept two impressive steaks alive with a 68-61 win over Ohio (23-7; 10-5 MAC) Wednesday night at the M.A.C. Center.
In addition to the bye, the Golden Flashes posted their 14th consecutive season with at least 10 league wins joining a select group that also includes only Kansas, Gonzaga and Creighton. The victory was also win No. 20 for Kent State making the storied program one of just eight teams (Kansas, Duke, Syracuse, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Creighton & Florida) in the nation to have had 20+ wins in at least 13 of the last 14 years.
With only the regular season finale against neighboring rival Akron to go, the Golden Flashes find themselves in a tie for third place with Ohio in the MAC East Division and overall standings, trailing Akron (12-3), Buffalo (11-4).
The Golden Flashes were led by 20 points from junior guard Randal Holt (Cleveland, Ohio) and a 16-point, nine-rebound effort from senior forward Justin Greene (Brooklyn, N.Y.), but it was the team's defensive energy in the first half that told the story. Kent State record 14 steals and forced 15 Ohio turnovers in the opening period which led to a 17-2 advantage in points of turnovers. Behind the swarming defense, the Golden Flashes went on a 25-5 run and led by as many as 18 in the final minutes of the half before going into the locker room up 41-27.
In the second half, Ohio slowing chipped away at the lead as Kent State went nearly 10 minutes without a field goal. The drought was finally ended in authoritative fashion as senior guard Michael Porrini (Massillon, Ohio) found junior forward Chris Evans (Chesapeake, Va.) for an alley-oop dunk with 2:11 left that gave the Golden Flashes an eight-point advantage.
Ohio answered with a jump shot and a 3-pointer on their next two possessions to narrow Kent State's lead to three points with 1:33 left to play. Holt then hit two key free throws on the other end for the Golden Flashes as the team eventually sealed the game at the foul line connecting on 9-12 in the time remaining.
Evans joined Holt and Greene in double digits with 12 points while adding four steals of the team's season high 18 steals.
Kent State closes out the regular season against Akron on Friday. Game time is 7:00 pm and can been seen on ESPN2. Call 330-672-2244 for ticket information Follow the action on the radio at WNIR 100.1 FM or listen online at www.kentstatesports.com.
Kent State - Ohio Post Game Notes
• Kent State has now won 10 league games in each of the last 14 years. Kansas, Gonzaga and Creighton are the only other teams in the nation to have a streak as long.
• Kent State now has won at least 20 games in 13 of the last 14 seasons. The Golden Flashes are currently one of just eight teams in the nation to have posted at least 13 20-win seasons in the last 14 years (Kansas, Duke, Syracuse, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Creighton & Florida)
• The win guarantees Kent State a bye to the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament
• The Golden Flashes had a 17-2 advantage in points off turnovers in the first half. Kent State made 14 steals in the half while Ohio had 15 turnovers
• The 18 steals in the game for Kent State are a season high and the most by the Golden Flashes since Feb. 1, 2010 vs Northern Illinois
• Kent State had a +3 (37-34) advantage in rebounding and has now out rebounded three of the last four opponents
• Justin Greene has had double-digits in each of his last 16 games
• 4th 20 point game of the year for Holt
• Holt now has 64 three-pointers on the year, placing him ninth on the single season list at Kent State
Kent State - Ohio Post Game Quotes
Kent State Head Coach Rob Senderoff
On the explosive 1st half:
"Our guys were tired of losing; we had lost three games in a row. We came out and played with great energy and great purpose.
On the different starting line-up:
"When you lose three games in a row you can't just sit there and pretend everything is ok. I had to try and do something to get our guys to play the way they should be playing."
On Akron game:
If we can win this game we will be undefeated at home and give us momentum going into the tournament. This game is important because of the location and also it's our senior night, I want our seniors to get a win the last time they play at Kent. I know our seniors don't want to lose their last game here and they especially don't want to lose to Akron."
Kent State senior forward Justin Greene
On importance of the win:
"It was huge. We don't want to get knocked all the way to the bottom for the tournament. We know Friday is huge, so we have to just take it one game at a time and get ready for Akron on Friday."
On not starting:
"We knew the guys that came in would pick us up. They were going to play hard for us. That's what they did, they set the tone for us to come in and finish the job and that's what we did. They were huge and we needed them tonight."
Kent State junior guard Randal Holt:
On his shooting:
"I just had extra focus. Going into the game, we lost to Ohio bad last game we played them. We wanted payback and we marked this on our calendars. I just tried to come out and shoot with confidence like I try every night."
"We know that game is huge. That game is one of the biggest rivalry games in the league. We just know we have to come out and play with a lot of emotion. Teams that win those games usually do the little things right. It's not going to come down to execution, it's going to come down to who wants in more down the stretch. Hopefully we come out on top. I think we're going to come out on top. Our guys are pretty pumped up for this game. We took a loss to Akron earlier this MAC season too. So we owe them some payback. Hopefully our team will get high enough and get to the NCAA tournament."