Wednesday night, Whorton carried the Golden Flashes to

Published:

Wednesday night, Whorton carried the Golden Flashes to their biggest non-conference road win of the decade.

The junior center's game-high 20 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots paved the way for Kent State's shocking 53-50 road victory over Conference USA power North Carolina-Charlotte (3-2) before 5,367 fans at Halton Arena.

The Flashes (5-1) nearly collapsed in the final two minutes, but managed to hang on to the victory after building a seemingly safe nine-point lead with just over two minutes remaining.

After Kelvin Price scored his team's first eight points, Whorton put the clamps on the 49ers' senior center. He managed just four points the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, after sophomore forward Kyrem Massey (10 points) scored six points to help Kent turn an early 12-8 deficit into a 16-12 lead, Whorton went to work offensively as well.

After going scoreless in the first 12 minutes of the game, Whorton scored the Flashes' final nine points of the half to help Kent jump on top 25-18 at intermission.

The Flashes shot just 33 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, but forced 15 turnovers by the 49ers and held them without a field goal for an 11-minute stretch.

"I don't think they realized our quickness," said Kent coach Gary Waters. "We wore them down physically. They can't win on tired legs."

Kent increased its lead to 33-20 after former Stow High School standout Nate Meers canned a 3-pointer, but then went over six minutes without scoring before Meers hit another long-range bomb to push the advantage back up to 36-30.

Sophomore point guard Andrew Mitchell hit a 3-pointer and jumper to push the lead to 49-40 with 2:12 left before an old Kent nemesis reared its ugly head once again.

Free-throw shooting.

The Flashes, 8-of-19 for the game, missed the front ends of three 1-and-1 opportunities and hit just 3-of-8 free throws in the final two minutes.

Marlon Thomas banked in a 3-pointer to bring the 49ers within 51-50 with 29 seconds remaining, and Kent immediately turned the ball over. UNC-Charlotte had three opportunities to take the lead on its next possession but missed each shot, and Ed Norvell finally came down with the rebound and was immediately fouled.

The senior swingman hit both free throws to give Kent a 53-50 lead with 14 seconds left, and that's the way it stood as the 49ers' Kedric Smith missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"Obviously we are very disappointed," said UNC-Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz, whose squad won 20 games and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament a year ago. "You have to give Kent credit. They played extremely hard with an extremely quick lineup. Defensively, they frustrated us.

"The last shots of the game did not lose it for us. The first 20 minutes did. It was a combination of their good play and our not so good play."

With the win, Kent improves to 5-1 for the first time since the 1989-90 season. That year the Flashes won 21 games to earn an NIT bid.

Kent returns to action this Saturday at the MAC Center, as St. Bonaventure of the rugged Atlantic 10 will come to town for a 2 p.m. tipoff.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.