KENT, Ohio The 8:00 a.m. start time might have been a little too early for the Kent State basketball team, but once it awoke in the second half, the Golden Flashes would not be denied as the team rallied for a 62-59 win over visiting Robert Morris.
Playing its 2010-11 home opener, Kent State erased a 12-point half time deficit to improve to 3-1 on the year. As part of ESPNs third annual College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, the game was broadcast in front of a nationally televised ESPN audience.
Junior forward Justin Greene helped fuel the second half rally, scoring 11 of his game high 20 points. Greene also added 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. Sophomore Randal Holt, who hit a go-ahead three-pointer with 29 seconds left, was also in double figures with 12 points.
Playing their fifth game in five days, the Golden Flashes were sluggish in the first half, shooting just 30 percent (7-23) from the field as they fell behind by 12-points (35-23) at the break.
As much as the start time was a factor, the four games in five days was a major factor, said Head Coach Geno Ford. We didnt have great legs, and Robert Morris is as good and quick as any team well face all year.
The second half was a different story as Kent State cranked up the defensive pressure and forced Robert Morris (1-1) into a 1-14 shooting slump the first seven minutes of the period. The Golden Flashes meanwhile began to click offensively as junior Carlton Guyton hit a three-pointer to capped off 13-2 stretch that brought his team back to within one (37-36) at the 13 minute mark. The Colonials finally ended the drought with a three from Anthony Meyers before gaining a six-point, 48-42 advantage with nine minutes remaining.
After playing only six minutes with virtually no stats in the first half, junior center Justin Manns became a major factor in the second. In the final 20 minutes of play, Manns scored all six of his points while grabbing five rebounds and making three blocks.
Perhaps his biggest offensive play was a tip-in and foul shot that cut the deficit back down to three (48-45) at the nine minute mark. Junior guard Michael Porrini then followed with a three-pointer, (his only field goal of the game), which knotted the score at 48-48 with 7:51 on the clock.
Two inside baskets by Greene and a three from Holt surrounded three Colonial free throws as Kent State took a four point lead under the two minute mark. Following a big defensive stop by the Golden Flashes, Holt was whistled for a technical,l which set Karon Abraham up for a free throw and a three-pointer at 1:29 that tied the game for the seventh time. After the teams traded baskets the next two possessions, Holt delivered the go ahead three for Kent State with just 29 seconds remaining.
At the tournament at Cleveland State, I was going through little bit of a shooting slump, said Holt. I wanted to get into the gym last night and put as many shots up as I could. Today it paid off. I just shot the ball with confidence and watched it go in.
In the final 20 seconds Greene and freshman Robert Johnson each split a pair at the foul line, leaving the Colonials with only an off-balanced desperation shot from 24-feet at the buzzer that bounced off the rim.
Kent State shot 38 percent for the game compared to 33 percent for Robert Morris.
The Golden Flashes return to action at home against Furman on Friday night at 7:00 p.m.
NOTES: The Golden Flashes have now won 10 straight at home dating back to last season ... Kent State is 6-0 all-time when Randal Holt scores in double figures ... Robert Morris shot just 24.3 percent (10-41) in the second half ... Greene has eight career double-doubles
Courtesy of Kent State Athletics