KENT, Ohio -- Rodriquez Sherman's driving layup with 20.8 seconds remaining led Kent State to a come-from-behind 75-74 victory over Tulsa on Wednesday night in a first-round game of the National Invitational Tournament.
The Golden Hurricane (23-12) had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but a baseline jumper by Ben Uzoh bounced off the rim and time ran out as the players fought for the rebound.
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Sherman was one of six players in double figures for Kent (24-9), as Chris Singletary led the way with 16. Sherman had 15, followed by Anthony Simpson with 13, Randal Holt with 11 and Evans and Justin Greene with 10 each. The victory was Kent's first in the postseason since defeating Pittsburgh in the NCAA tournament Sweet 16 in 2002.Kent, which won the Mid American Conference's regular-season title, came from as far behind as nine points. The second-half comeback was fueled by Tyree Evans, who scored eight of his 10 points in a stretch that barely covered 1:30. Up to that point he had been held scoreless."I wouldn't say I was in a slump," Evans said. "That's just what happens with shooters. But you always have to believe the next one is going in. My teammates needed me to hit some shots and I did."What really seemed to turn things for Evans and Kent was his 3-pointer that hit the rim three times before falling, cutting the margin to one at 58-57. Evans followed that with a 15-footer and another 3-pointer, making it 62-58 with 8:09 to play.The margin was never greater than three for the remainder of the game, setting up Sherman to hit his winner."I've said all year that we handle adversity better than success," Kent coach Geno Ford said. "We win our conference in the regular season and then we go out and play our worst game of the year in the MAC tournament. Tonight we found a way to beat a really good team. I have a lot of respect for Tulsa."Tulsa, which held a 35-28 halftime lead, got the majority of its points from three players, Jerome Jordan with 23 points and 12 rebounds, Justin Hurtt with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Uzoh with 14 points.The Golden Flashes advance to the second round of the NIT and will face Illinois, which beat Stony Brook 76-66.