In her postgame radio interview, coach Danny O’Banion put it this way:
“This team is starting to figure it out.”
For the second straight game, the Flashes played very well on the road against one of the MAC’s best teams. This time they played Akron (16-4, 6-3 in the MAC), even for 36 minutes before the Zips put things together for a 74-67 victory.
Kent State may actually have played better than it did in Wednesday’s 67-65 loss to Central Michigan. This time the Flashes led by five points several times in the second half. They shot 49 percent from the field for the second straight game. They made 16 of 21 fouls shots (almost 24 percentage points above their season average). And they held Akron, the leading offensive team in the conference, to 39 percent shooting.
So how did they lose? Three statistics and two players:
- The Flashes gave up 15 offensive rebounds, leading to 15 second-chance points for Akron.
- The Flashes had 17 turnovers, not bad for them for seven more than Akron.
- Between the rebounds and turnovers, Akron had 17 more shots than Kent State.
- Akron stars Sina King and Anita Brown, who average 40 points between them, combined for 44 and scored seven critical points with about four minutes to go. After Kent State had come within one point, King hit two foul shots, Brown a layup on a pass from King, then King a three-point field goal. At that point it was 65-59 a minute and a half to go.
“Overall, I’m very encouraged by our young team and how we’re growing up over these last couple of weeks. We are really eager to keep knocking and to break through,” O’Banion said.
“The coaches,” she said, “are still sprinting into the office in the morning and the players are sprinting into the gym. We’re eager to get on the bus and look at the film and get better.
The coach’s postgame tweet said:
“Strong rivalry game performance, but didn’t finish. This team is growing guts. It won’t be long.”
Kent State was led by 18 points from freshman forward Jordan Korinek, who played at Akron St. Vincent St. Mary and turned down an offer from Akron to come to Kent State. She made 7 of 11 field goals, 4 of 5 foul shots, and had five rebounds in 37 minutes.
“It’s fun to watch Jordan grow up,” O’Banion said. “She’s playing more physical now than she ever has.”
McKenna Stephens and Larissa Lurken each had 10 points. Cici Shannon had eight points and 11 rebounds, the sixth straight game she’s rebounded in double figures. She was in foul trouble and played just 22 minutes, about 10 minutes fewer than she’s averaged recently.
- The games against Central Michigan and Akron were the first times this season Kent State has scored more than 60 points in two straight games. 67 ties for the second highest point total for the Flashes this year. (Highest was 68 in their opening loss to South Dakota State; they also scored 67 in losing by two points at Cleveland State.)
- For the second straight game, the Flashes didn’t block a shot.
- Kent made 17 turnovers, leading to 18 Akron points. Akron made 10 turnovers, leading to 13 KSU points.
- There were 14 lead changes and seven tie scores.
- Senior point guard Mikell Chinn scored six points, her most this season. She also had five assists.
- Kent State had only six offensive rebounds and eight second chance points. Overall, Akron led in rebounding, 34-31.
The Flashes (3-16, 1-7) are back in the MAC Center Wednesday to play against Eastern Michigan. which is 10-9, 3-5 in the MAC after a 75-53 loss to Buffalo at home Saturday. Buffalo, the preseason favorite in the East, is 11-8, 4-4.
Other Saturday MAC scores:
- Ohio (17-3, 8-1) 74, Central Michigan (10-9, 5-3) 66, at Central Michigan.
- Western Michigan (14-6, 7-2) 61, Miami (3-17, 0-9) 53, at Miami.
- Northern Illinois (9-10, 4-4) 65, Ball State (10-10, 6-3) 62, at Ball State.
- Toledo (12-7, 5-3) 64, Bowling Green (9-11, 2-7) 48, at Bowling Green.