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Kent State Slips Past Western Carolina, 58-56

Redshirt senior Harouna Mutombo splits the Kent State defense for two of his 21 points Saturday in the Ramsey Center. (Photo by Mark Haskett)

Dec. 10, 2011

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Cullowhee, N.C. - Harouna Mutombo led all scorers with a season-high tying 21 points and Trey Sumler chipped in a season-best 19, but it was not enough as Kent State slipped past Western Carolina, 58-56, Saturday afternoon in nonconference action at the Ramsey Center.

Kent State (7-1) won its sixth-straight game to improve to 7-1 on the year while the Catamounts suffered their second-consecutive setback to drop to 5-6 overall.

Tom Tankelewicz drained a 3-pointer with 2:36 to play to cap a 14-to-4 WCU run that erased a six-point deficit and handed the Catamounts a four-point edge, 55-51 - its largest lead of the second half. However, Kent State guard Michael Porrini, who began his collegiate career at WCU, scored five of the final seven Golden Flashes points in earning the victory.

Porrini put three on the board the old-fashioned way with a lay-up and free throw to pull Kent State back within one, 55-54. On the ensuing possession, the Catamounts were called for an offensive foul, turning the ball back over to the visitors where Justin Greene scored two of his dozen points on a lay-up to put the Golden Flashes back on top, 56-55.

The lead was stretched to three, 58-55, after two additional Porrini free throws. On the ensuing possession, Sumler misfired on a long 3-point attempt to tie the game, but a turnover on the defensive rebound gave the ball back to WCU with three seconds to play. With fouls to give and a three-point lead, Kent State put Mutombo on the line where he made the first free throw and missed the second looking for a tip at the buzzer, but it was not to be as the Golden Flashes held on for the two-point win.

All told, the Catamounts were outscored 7-to-1 over the final two and a half minutes after building the four-point edge following the triple by Tankelewicz.

Mutombo finished 7-of-11 from the floor with a pair of 3-pointers to post his third 20-point scoring performance of the season - and the 11th of his Catamount career. Sumler also made seven field goals, adding a team-best eight rebounds and five assists. Senior Keaton Cole added nine points on three made 3-pointers while freshman Kenneth Hall blocked a career-best four shots.

Kent State's Carlton Guyton scored 13 with Greene and Porrini finishing with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Greene added a team-best nine rebounds for the Golden Flashes.

A 6-0 spurt by Western Carolina capped by an offensive rebound and put-back by Sam Smithson gave the Catamounts an early six-point advantage midway through the opening 20 minutes. Kent State rallied back to knot the game at 21 at the six-minute mark of the first half. Following a 3-pointer by Mutombo to knot the game for a fourth-time in the first, Justin Manns converted a lay-up inside the final minute to give Kent State a two-point, 28-26-lead at intermission.

In the second half, Kent State broke the game's sixth tie with eight-straight points to pull ahead, 41-33, at the 13:52 mark. But the Catamounts were able to whittle away at the advantage, rallying to tie it for a seventh time at 47 with 8:24 showing on the clock. From there, the game went back-and-forth with neither team able to get away by more than four points, that coming on the Tankelewicz 3-pointer.

Saturday's game was tied seven times and saw 14 lead changes including eight in the second half alone. Neither team was able to build more than an eight-point lead, held by Kent State midway through the second stanza.

Western Carolina (5-6) now breaks for final exams, returning to action on Tuesday, Dec. 20 as it travels to Peoria, Ill., to face the Bradley Braves. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET / 7:00 pm CT.

Post-Game Notes:
- Western Carolina dropped its second-straight game to Kent State since the overtime victory back in December of 2008 ... the Golden Flashes won the previous meeting, 74-72, at the M.A.C. Center, with KSU pulling out the two-point, 58-56, edge in Saturday's defensive struggle ... WCU also fell to 4-5 all-time against the Mid-American Conference;

- WCU dropped its first home game of the season - and just the second dating back to last year ... the Catamounts have won 40 of their last 47 home games ... the loss did snap Western Carolina's 10-game home game winning streak against non-conference foes as the Catamounts have secured victories in 14 of their past 17 home games against non-league opponents;

- Harouna Mutombo continued his hot scoring, running his consecutive double-digit scoring streak to five-straight, matching his season-high in points with 21 ... Saturday was the 60th double-figure scoring outing by Mutombo and the 32nd time he's led the squad in scoring during his career ... He also posted 20-plus points for the 11th time for the Purple & Gold;

- Keaton Cole continued his solid shooting beyond the arc, knocking down three 3-pointers for the fifth-straight game ... Cole has made three-or-more treys in seven of the 11 games this season ... the Toronto, Ontario, native has 118 career made 3-pointers and is just 13 shy of moving onto the WCU career Top 10 in that category ... Cole just missed extending his double-digit scoring streak to five-straight games, tallying nine points against Kent State;

- Freshman post Kenneth Hall blocked a career-high four shots in the loss to Kent State;

- WCU held Kent State without a 3-point field goal in the second half (0-for-9) and just 4-of-15 for the game (26.7%).