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NIT Basketball Tournament 2011 Bracket: Justin Greene Hits Late Bucket As Kent St. Upsets St. Mary's 71-70

In a battle between players that won Conference Player of the Year Awards in the MAC and WCC, it was Justin Greene of the Kent St. Golden Flashes that converted his opportunity with 4.6 seconds remaining to give the Flashes a come-from-behind 71-70 win on the road against the St. Mary's Gaels in Moraga, CA.

Green, the MAC Player of the Year, struggled most of the night, scoring just 11 points while turning the ball over 6 times, but scored on a lay-up at the biggest moment after a St. Mary's tournover.  After a time out, St. Mary's had a chance to win when WCC Player of the Year Mickey McConnell took the inbounds pass, drove towards the hoop, but saw his layup rim out as time expired.  McConnell, playing in his final college game, scored just 5 points.

St. Mary's dominated much of the night after an early lead for Kent State.  The Flashes jumped out to a 22-15 lead midway though the first half before the Gael got going.  Using a 17-4 run, St Mary's led at the half 39-25.  They extended the lead to 12 points - 55-43 - after a McConnell layup with 13:35 to go in the game.  Kent St. would go away, however, and thanks to some sloppy play by the home team the Flashes got back into the game.

Down three - 70-67 - with 25 seconds to go, Kent State got a layup from Michael Porrini.  Out of timeouts and needing to foul, the Flashes got a break when Clint Steindl's inbounds pass went out of bounds, giving the Flashes the opportunity to win the game.  Greene made the most of it and Kent State was able to dodge a bullet at the buzzer.

Porrini led the Flashes with 21 points on 9-13 shooting.  The Flashes shot 48.4% from the field while holding the Gaels to 43.5%.  Rob Jones scored 21 points to lead the Gaels while Matthew Dellavedova added 18 points.  Kent St. had the advantage on the glass - 36-28, but also had 17 turnovers to just 10 for St. Mary's.

The Flashes will take on Fairfield in the Second Round after the No.6 seed upset Colorado St. 62-60.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.