(7-10, 3-4)Lots of story lines in Kent State’s heartbreaking 65-63 loss at Central Michigan Wednesday:
- There’s not much doubt it was KSU’s best game of the season. Only once this season had the Flashes come this anywhere near this close to beating a team with a winning record. That was a two-point loss at Cleveland State, a good team but not nearly as good as Central Michigan. CMU was the overwhelming preseason pick to win the MAC. It has had some costly injuries but still is a half game out of first in the MAC West, having only lost to the two best teams in the East. Kent hasn’t come this close to beating a MAC team with a winning record in four seasons.
- When Kent State shoots well and keeps turnovers down, it’s very competitive. The Flashes made 45 percent of their field goals in Wednesday’s game (49 percent in the second half). They had 18 turnovers overall but only five in the second half. They actually outscored Central 14-7 in points off turnovers in the second half. In the first half, though, CMU outscored Kent 15-2 off turnovers.
- Foul shooting is killing this team. This was the third or fourth game this season it lost at the line. Part of that was the fact Kent State got to the line only five times. It made only one, including four misses by Larissa Lurken in the last minute. One of those misses was intentional. Kent was trailing by three points when she was fouled on a three-point shot with 1.5 seconds to go. She made the first and missed the second, so she deliberately missed the third. Kent’s 5-6 Nadia Cross miraculously got the rebound and fed it to Madison Ridout, but her three-pointer bounced off the rim. Cross was very open herself but probably didn’t realize it.
- KSU was behind 35-26 at halftime and trailed by 10 with 10 minutes t go.
- Lurken, who is Kent’s leading scorer, had 18 points for the second game in a row. If she’s not scoring, KSU doesn’t have much of a chance. But she still is struggling shooting. She was 7 of 18 Wednesday (3 of 11 on three-pointers) and, as noted 1 for 4 on foul shooting. For the season, she’s making just 31 percent of her field goals (26 percent three-pointers) and 55 percent of her foul shots. Last year she made 78 percent of her foul shots and 33 percent of three-points (but still 31 percent of field goals).
- Freshman forward Jordan Korinek, who struggled in December and early January, is playing much better. She had 14 points on 7 of 10 shooting and had six rebounds. She’s playing the third highest number of minutes of any KSU player. (Lurken is first, guard Krista White second.)
- Cross, also a freshman, had the best game of her career. She had 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting (including 2 of 2 three-pointers), eight assists, three steals and three turnovers. It seems she’s looking to score more.
- Cici Shannon had 12 rebounds, her fourth straight game in double figures, and eight points (but made only 4 of 11 shots).
- Freshman Madison Ridout had six points on two three-pointers and played 16 minutes.
- KSU had eight three-pointers, its most of the season, on 18 attempts.
- Kent State outrebounded CMU 36-32 and actually had more baskets (27 to 23). It lost the game at the foul line, where the Chippewas made 10 of 17 shots. (Remember Kent made only one.) KSU had 17 assists, Central 14.
- CMU star Chrystal Bradford, who had played relatively poorly in Central’s losses to Ohio and Akron, scored 31 points on 11 of 19 shooting.
- Coach Danny O’Banion called the loss “bittersweet” in her postgame radio interview. “We never celebrate moral victories but sure can build off of this,” she said.
Kent, now 1-6 and 3-15 in the MAC, plays at Akron at 2 p.m. Saturday.
MAC scores from Wednesday:
- Ohio (16-3, 7-1 MAC) 72, Akron (15-4, 5-3) 60, at Ohio.
- Western Michigan (13-8, 6-2) 83, Eastern Michigan (10-8, 3-4) 56, at Western.
- Ball State (10-9, 6-2) 72, Miami (3-16, 0-8) 55, at Miami.
- Northern Illinois (7-10, 3-4) 67, Bowling Green (9-10, 2-6) 50, at Northern.