Saturday, March 10, 2001

Kent State 67, Ball State 55

AP Sports Writer

        CLEVELAND — As Trevor Huffman swished shot after shot through the net, the Kent State guard felt he was in a place holier than the zone. “Heaven,” he said.

        Huffman made a 3-pointer on three straight second-half possessions and scored 20 points Friday night as Kent State moved into the championship of the Mid-American Conference tournament with a 67-55 semifinal win over Ball State.

        Second-seeded Kent State will play eighth-seeded Miami in tonight's title game with the winner getting the MAC's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

        Huffman was just 3-for-12 from the field before his 3-point barrage gave the Golden Flashes (22-9) a 61-48 lead with 6:50 left, and they coasted into their fifth MAC tournament final.

        After he made his third 3, Huffman shook his head several times as if to say, 'You can't stop me.'

        “The guys are always making fun of me for doing things like that,” he said. “That's my way of releasing a little energy. Once in a while, I'll do something stupid like that.”

        In the first semifinal, Jason Grunkemeyer made a 3-pointer with 6.8 seconds left and the RedHawks (17-15) advanced to the title game for the fifth straight year with a 62-61 win over Ohio.

        The Bobcats had a final chance to win, but guard Anthony Jones dribbled the ball off his foot with 1.2 seconds to play.

        Miami snapped Kent State's 13-game home winning streak with a 48-45 victory on Feb. 7, the only meeting between the schools this season. Kent State won its only MAC tourney title in 1999, beating Miami 49-43.

        The RedHawks have won three MAC titles — in 1984, '92 and '97.

        Kyrem Massey added 13 points and Demetric Shaw 11 for Kent State, which had a better team last year but was knocked out in the quarterfinals.

        Huffman wasn't about to let that happen again.

        The point guard, who last season was the team's top reserve, scored 19 points on Thursday night in a quarterfinal win over Bowling Green. He then got hot against Ball State just as it appeared the Cardinals (18-12) were going to hang around until the finish.

        Huffman's first 3 put the Golden Flashes up 55-46, and following a basket by Theron Smith, Huffman nailed another 3-pointer from the top of the key. On Kent State's next possession, Huffman never hesitated in launching and swished another bomb.

        “When Trevor is shooting like that,” said Kent State coach Gary Waters, who was unusually quiet in the second half, “there isn't much to say.”

        Smith scored 19 points to lead the defending tournament champion Cardinals, who had been 3-0 vs. Kent State in the MAC tourney games. Cedric Moodie, who scored 27 in a quarterfinal win over Marshall, went 0-for-6 from the field and was scoreless.

        “We didn't play very well and a lot of it was reverting to our bad habits,” said Ball State coach Tim Buckley. “They disrupted Cedric's rhythm by playing us tight.”

        The Golden Flashes also got a huge emotional lift from senior Eric Thomas, who scored five points in 15 minutes. Thomas sat out all but 12 minutes during the regular season after twice breaking his foot and undergoing knee surgery.

        But he told Waters he wanted to play in his final tournament and played nine minutes on Thursday night against Bowling Green.

        BALL STATE (18-12) - Smith 7-13 4-5 19, Murray 3-4 0-0 6, Jones 3-6 0-0 6, Jackson 3-7 0-0 7, Lynch 3-5 3-3 10, Robbins 1-2 0-0 3, Moodie 0-6 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Owens 1-3 0-2 2, Burns 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-47 7-10 55.

        KENT ST. (22-9) -

        Shaw 4-9 2-2 11, Massey 5-12 2-2 13, Perry 1-4 0-0 2, Mitchell 3-9 2-2 9, Huffman 7-17 2-2 20, Haut 0-2 0-0 0, Thomas 2-5 0-0 5, Bedford 0-0 0-0 0, Warren 3-7 1-2 7, Edwards 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-65 9-10 67.

        Halftime—Kent St. 34, Ball St. 34. 3-point goals—Ball St. 4-13 (Lynch 1-2, Robbins 1-2, Smith 1-3, Jackson 1-3, Owens 0-1, Moodie 0-2), Kent St. 8-21 (Huffman 4-10, Massey 1-1, Shaw 1-3, Thomas 1-3, Mitchell 1-4). Fouled out—None. Rebounds—Ball St. 36 (Smith 9), Kent St. 31 (Shaw 6). Assists—Ball St. 11 (Jackson 5), Kent St. 8 (Huffman 4). Total fouls—Ball St. 14, Kent St. 14. A—9,270.


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