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November 12, 2010
CLEVELAND, Ohio--Behind a late surge led by senior Rodriquez Sherman and junior Justin Greene, Kent State fought back from six down with two minutes to play to defeat Iona, 73-72, in the first game of the World Vision Classic at Cleveland State's Wolstein Center.
Sherman, who scored 20 points and added five assists, and Greene, who scored a game-high 26 points with 14 rebounds and three blocks, combined for 17 of the final 23 points for the Golden Flashes. Green's free throw with 1.9 seconds left was the difference in the game.
Despite being the KSU squad with the least returning players since 1996-97, the Golden Flashes didn't let their inexperience stop them from overcoming the adversity they faced on the opening night of the season.
The Flashes held a slim advantage for most of the game before relinquishing the lead with 9:53 left in the second half after a couple of turnovers, the result of Iona's tough full-court defense.
With the momentum clearly in the other corner, Kent State's young team didn't crumble.
"[The team] didn't come over in the timeouts like, 'Oh, we're in trouble,'" said Kent State head coach Geno Ford. "I wasn't over there trying to give them confidence. That was the biggest plus and probably the most surprising thing because that's what a veteran team acts like in late-game huddles."
With their backs against the wall, the Golden Flashes' two biggest catalysts took control.
"At two minutes [left], I looked at [Sherman] and said, 'I need you,'" Greene said. "He looked at me and said, 'No big fella', I need you.'"
With just over two minutes to go and Kent down 70-64, Sherman drove into the lane on three consecutive possessions.
Sherman banked the first in, hit one of two free throws after being fouled on the second possession and dished it to Greene for a dunk on the third to bring Kent within one, 70-69.
Iona forward Mike Glover extended Iona's lead to three with a jumper.
Down three with 53 seconds left, junior Carlton Guyton, who chipped in with 14 points and six assists, drained a three from the corner to knot it at 72.
"He made that shot on toughness and courage," Ford said. "He played 19 minutes [in the first half] and was playing real well, but we probably had him in too long. Rod made a an unselfish play to kick it out, and Guyton had the courage to make it."
When Iona attempted to go inside, Greene and center Justin Manns switched-off their man perfectly and Greene came away with the ball after his third rejection of the game.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Sherman weaved through Iona's defense and once again found Greene inside. Glover had no choice but to foul Greene, who hit the first free throw and purposefully missed the second.
In Saturday's second day of the Classic, Kent State (1-0) will play Bryant, who lost to Cleveland State, 71-57, Friday night.
Sherman and Greene know that while the opening night win was wild, one win is only one win.
"We only have about 20 minutes to celebrate this win before we get ready for Bryant," Greene said.
Sherman added, "We can't celebrate because we have a tournament to win-we didn't come here to win one game."
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