KENT--While Kent State defeated Eastern Michigan, 80-70, Wednesday Night at
the M.A.C. Center, a bigger battle ensued between two of the top candidates
for Mid-American Conference Player Of The Year.
Kent State's Justin Greene and Eastern Michigan's Brandon
Bowdry traded baskets at a furious pace, both scoring inside and out in an
effort to out-do one another every trip down the floor.
Neither was able to ever really win the battle outright, although Greene's
team won the war.
Greene finished the night with a team-high 23 points on 10-of-18 shooting,
eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. Bowdry totaled a game-high
25 points, six rebounds two assists and collected seven steals.
"I wasn't really paying too much attention. I know he's
a really, really good player and I just wanted to contain him as much as I
could because he's going to score," Greene said. "It was
a fun battle but it wasn't me versus Bowdry, it was Kent State versus
Eastern Michigan. I was doing what I could to help my team win."
After Bowdry scored eight of Eastern Michigan's first 11 points, Greene
answered with one of the best halves he's ever put together in a KSU
Greene effortlessly threw in jump-hooks and hit nothing-but-net on several
15-foot jumpers on his way to pouring in 19 points in 18 first-half minutes.
"I was pretty comfortable out there, shots were falling," Greene
said. "Hopefully I can keep it rolling. We got the win, and that's
all that matters."
Greene and Bowdry may have had similar numbers, but both play a much different
game than their counterpart--Greene stuffs the box score but seems to have
a calm, collected aura to him, while Bowdry makes his presence felt.
"I know he's a little trash talker, but he plays hard," Greene
said. "We can play any kind of game you want to play. If you want to
just play and speak to each other that's fine, if you want to talk trash
we can do that too. As long as we're talking trash and we get everything
we need to get done out there, everything is fine."
The difference in the second half was, as it has been frequently this season,
KSU's pit-bull-resembling point guard Michael Porrini.
Porrini opened up KSU's offense with this ability to drive the ball
and push the tempo. Porrini finished the game with 15 points, eight assists
and four rebounds.
It was Porrini, who stands four inches shorter than Bowdry, who slowed the
EMU star down after his torrid start.
"Our coaching staff told us what type of player [Bowdry] was, we knew
what type of player he was and we knew he was going to get a lot of shots," Porrini
said. "For us to win the game, we had to keep him in control the best
we could. That's what we did, and that was the key to the game tonight."
Porrini has emerged as one of the most vital cogs to KSU's success,
as he draws the toughest defensive assignment night in and night out.
Last Saturday, he was given the uber-tough task of slowing down freshman guard
Trey Ziegler of Central Michigan, one of the toughest guards to handle in the
MAC. Guarding Bowdry, a forward who can score from anywhere on the floor, was
a whole different story, but nothing the former outside linebacker from Massillon
High School can't handle.
"It's fun to me. I like contact, I'm a physical point guard
and I loved to play football in high school, so I just come out with that mentality
on the basketball court," Porrini said.
Head coach Geno Ford wasn't as thrilled with trading baskets
as Greene or Porrini.
"Our mentality as a basketball team tonight stunk," Ford said. "As
a group we were content to trade baskets, we didn't grind like we have
been. You have to give [EMU] credit because they can space the floor and have
a guy who is a touch matchup, but for us to only force 11 turnovers--we're
Ford did offer some praise--uncommon from a man with his mentality, who usually
defaults to underselling himself and/or his team--resulting from the last couple
"That team in the locker room is a lot better than that team was in
December," Ford said. "There's four to five guys who can
get you for 20 [points] if it's their night, and they're a bunch
of guys who will grind their way to 10 even if they're a little off.
It's key to not forget what made us successful, which is scoring within
five feet [of the basket]."
The Golden Flashes, now 7-2 in MAC play, hit the road for a four-game swing,
starting with Northern Illinois on Saturday.
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