For the first half Tuesday, Kent State played its best sustained basketball of the season.
The Flashes led through a good portion of the half and trailed 34-31. They shot 50 percent. They had fewer turnovers than the Rockets, who now are 8-4 (2-0 in the MAC) and have won five games in a row.
But in the second half, Toledo took control. It wasn’t so much that Kent State played much worse; Toledo simply played much better. The Rockets held the Flashes to 30 percent shooting and outrebounded them 29-13 (it had been 16-15 Toledo at halftime). And most importantly, Toledo got to the foul line 19 times, making 14. Kent State shot only three free throws in the second half, making one. (The Flashes were 3 for 7 for the game.)
KSU scored only 18 points in the second half.
The final score was 67-49.
In her post-game radio interview, coach Danny O’Banion agreed it was foul shooting and rebounding, along with the inability to make open shots that was the difference in the half and game. KSU leading scorer Larissa Lurken had an especially hard time, making only 1 of 11 shots (0 for 5 on three-pointers). Lurken is key to Kent’s offense but is shooting just over 30 percent for the season. O’Banion went out of her way to say how hard Lurken played Tuesday, pointing to her three offensive rebounds. Overall, the coach called it “a step forward” to go on the road and play well against a team like Toledo.
Cici Shannon led Kent State with 12 points and seven rebounds but sat out 14 minutes of the first half with two fouls. Jordan Korinek had nine points and four rebounds and McKenna Stephens, who had 14 points Saturday against Central Michigan, had six.
Krista White had eight points on 3 of 4 shooting, including a three-pointer. But she fouled out and played only 17 minutes. (She was second on the team in minutes played.)
Point guard Naddiyah Cross had four steals and three assists but five turnovers.
Senior Mikell Chinn, who suffered a concussion during Kent’s holiday tournament in California, is still out.
Kent State is now 2-12 (0-2) in the MAC and hosts Bowling Green Saturday. The Falcons (7-6) also have lost their first two league games, including a 67-59 defeat at Akron (11-2) Wednesday. It was Akron’s first victory over a team with a winning record.
Other MAC scores:
Ball State (6-7) 72, Miami (3-10) 41 at Ball State.
Central Michigan (7-6) 66, Buffalo (7-6) 58, at Central Michigan.
Western Michigan (9-4) 61, Ohio (10-3) 51, at Western Michigan