The 15-point defeat was about what you might expect against a team like Arkansas State, which is picked to win the Sun Belt.
How Kent State got there was sort of strange.
The Flashes jumped to a 9-0 lead, easily their best start of the year. The big reason in that was Melanie Stubbs’ hitting her first three shows in her first start of the year. (Her being in the line-up came because Larissa Lurken was out with the flu, but more on that later.)
Then for the rest of the half, Arkansas State outscored Kent State by 18. Kent State got it to six after about seven minutes of the second half, but then Arkansas State pulled away until it cleared its bench with two minutes to go and a 23-point lead.
Playing against Arkansas State, a team with an RPI of 126 (KSU is 305) and a schedule strength of 25, would be hard in any circumstances. Playing without Lurken, Kent’s leading scorer, and Mikell Chinn, Kent’s starting point guard, made it even harder. Chinn is still out with a concussion.
In her post-game interview on Golden Flash iHeart Radio, coach Danny O’Banion said she saw a good defensive effort at times, including some early success with a zone.
- Kent’s biggest problems — shooting and turnovers — were still there. The Flashes had 27 turnovers and shot 37 percent. Without Lurken, their main three-point shooter, they took only four long-range shots. The one that went in — by Jordan Korinek — came with 21 seconds to go.
- Arkansas State didn’t shoot three-pointers particularly well — 29 percent — but shot 21 of them. That dimension of their office made a difference.
- Cici Shannon was 6 for 8 for 12 points and blocked four shots in 19 minutes. O’Banion said Shannon was limited when Arkansas State went to a four-guard offense.
- Korinek had her second straight double-figure game with 11 points in 35 minutes.
- Kent had only six assists on 17 baskets, among its lowest of the season. The Flashes had trouble running their offense against Arkansas State, which has held power conference schools below their scoring averages.
- Freshman Naddiyah Cross, filling in at point guard again, played 37 minutes with three assists, six turnovers and two points. She was zero for seven shooting.
- Stubbs finished with 11 points, equalling her high for the year, and seven rebounds.
- Redshirt freshman McKenna Stephens played eight minutes and didn’t score in her first game after transferring from Michigan State. In her post-game interview, O’Banion said Stephens had a “great athletic body, with length and size” and that Stephens would be strong at the high post. Stephens, who is from Uniontown, was a third-team all stater and district player of the year at Lake High School.
- Kent goes to Colgate Saturday. The Raiders, like Kent, are 1-8. Then KSU is off for Christmas and goes to the University of New Orleans for its final non-conference game Dec. 30. The Privateers are 1-5.