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Published: Sunday, 3/20/2011

Kent State beats Fairfield 72-68 in NIT

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Randal Holt scored 22 points and Carlton Guyton added 16 to lead Kent State over Fairfield 72-68 on Sunday and reach the NIT quarterfinals for the second time.

Michael Porrini added 11 points and Justin Manns had 10 for the Golden Flash (25-11), which will play at Colorado on Tuesday night.

"We are going to have spring break in Colorado," Kent State coach Geno Ford said. "(My players) weren't going anywhere anyway, just home to see their biological families."

Holt scored 11 points in the first half, but the game was even at 35 at the break. After four ties early in the second half, Porrini put Kent State in front for good with a layup at 10:51 to make it 54-52.

The Golden Flash played the final 9:08 without their point guard after Porrini collided with the elbow of a Fairfield player who was setting a screen. Porrini left the game with a possible head injury, and he was kept out for precautionary reasons, Ford said.

"That's the good thing about our team. We have four or five guys that can go off at any time," said Holt, who made 8 of 12 shots, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range. "You never know who it's going to be."

The Golden Flash's offense was fine throughout, but the defense didn't arrive until the second half when it forced seven turnovers and shut down Derek Needham, The sophomore point guard scored 18 first-half points, but managed just two in the second. That basket wasn't scored until only 18 seconds remained.

The Stags also struggled at the foul line with a 7-for-13 effort in the half. Kent State was 4 for 5 at the line, with all of the attempts in the final minute.

"Turnovers killed us, especially in the middle of different runs," Fairfield coach Ed Cooley said. "Today was a day we weren't very good defensively and they were able to make some critical shots when they needed to."

Fairfield entered second in the nation with only 57.9 points allowed, but Kent State's full-court offense dictated the tempo. The Golden Flash shot 50 percent in both halves, finishing 30 for 60, and made 8 of 19 three-pointers.

Ryan Olander added 15 points and Yorel Hawkins had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Stags (25-8), who finished with a school record for wins in a season.

Rodriguez Sherman's 3-pointer gave Kent State a 52-49 lead with just over 11 minutes left, and the Golden Flash never lost it in front of 3,954 fans at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard.



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