On my way to visit my family for Thanksgiving, I took the opportunity to stop in Kent, Ohio for the Kent State-Cleveland State game. Going to Kent State games is always special to me, having grown up rooting for the Flashes. I have been to plenty of games in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center (MAC), and saw my first Division One basketball game there when I was younger. I was very excited to stop in Kent and make a return visit.
The game was previewed to be a good one. Kent State has had success throughout the last decade, a string that was started by current Cleveland State coach Gary Waters, who after winning a MAC championship and taking the Flashes to the NCAA Tournament, left to go to Rutgers. After little success there, ended up at Cleveland State, where he has led the Vikings, who were struggling before his arrival, to a team that has finished towards the top of the Horizon League. This season, both teams had a Red-Line Upset on their resumes. CSU beat Vanderbilt to start their season and two days later, the Flashes won on the road at West Virginia. Despite this, there has been no media attention to either team (as was mentioned in an earlier recap), as for whatever reason people have yet to catch on to college basketball in this area.I arrived at the MAC Center about 20 minutes before tip-off, and found a seat in the student section. The game ended up being a sellout, as over 6,000 people were in attendance. The Kent student section was full, despite the fact that many students cleared off campus for Thanksgiving break. CSU also brought a strong crowd, including a group of students. There was plenty of electricity in the building as the game started.
The game itself was one of missed opportunities, particularly for the Flashes. CSU got out to an early nine-point lead, and it seemed like whenever Kent State attempted to make a comeback, the Vikings responded. The Vikings led 30-21 at the half, before Kent State turned it up a notch on defense and forced the Vikings to miss shots and turn the ball over. Despite their efforts on defense, they were unable to hit shots, shooting 35% from the field for the game and only making one three-pointer in 19 attempts. The lead got down to 44-40 before a three pointer by D'Aundary Brown stretched the CSU lead back to seven. That basically clinched the game for the Vikings. The Flashes managed to make the score close at the end, but came up short, losing 57-53. Jeremy Montgomery led the Vikings with 13 points, and despite the losing effort, Chris Evans led all scorers with 14 points for the Flashes. This game definitely showed that both teams have a lot to work on as the season progresses.
When I got home, I saw the following tweet from one of the local radio stations: "Cleveland State beats Kent State 57-53. React now on ESPN 850 WKNR." I really hope that other media outlets follow suit, and begin to give the local teams the attention they deserve.
CLEVELAND STATE 57, at KENT STATE 53 11/22/2011
CLEVELAND STATE 4-0 (0-0) -- T. Harmon 0-9 0-0 0; J. Montgomery 5-15 0-0 13; A. Pogue 4-9 1-1 9; D. Brown 4-10 2-3 11; T. Kamczyc 2-3 0-2 4; A. Grady 0-1 4-4 4; C. Lee 1-2 5-6 7; S. Douglas 2-2 0-0 4; L. Ndaye 1-2 0-0 2; I. Nwamu 1-4 0-0 3; D. Long 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-57 12-16 57. KENT STATE 2-1 (0-0) -- M. Porrini 1-7 0-0 2; C. Guyton 3-9 1-2 8; J. Greene 4-9 5-7 13; C. Evans 7-11 0-0 14; R. Holt 2-9 3-4 7; E. Gaines 0-3 2-6 2; J. Manns 2-4 3-5 7; K. Brewer 0-0 0-0 0; P. Jackson 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 19-54 14-24 53.
Three-point goals: CLST 5-17 (D. Brown 1-3; T. Harmon 0-4; J. Montgomery 3-8; C. Lee 0-1; I. Nwamu 1-1), KENT 1-17 (M. Porrini 0-3; C. Evans 0-3; R. Holt 0-5; E. Gaines 0-1; C. Guyton 1-5); Rebounds: CLST 33 (T. Harmon 8), KENT 37 (C. Evans 8); Assists: CLST 14 (J. Montgomery 3), KENT 11 (C. Guyton 4); Total Fouls -- CLST 22, KENT 16; Fouled Out: CLST-None; KENT-None.