A tough one-point loss to Akron

As Kent State coach Danny O’Banion said after the game, it came down to Akron’s making one more play than Kent State.

That was senior Sina King’s five-foot shot with 4.8 seconds left to give the Zips a 54-53 victory over the Flashes.

Kent State had just taken the lead on two Larissa Lurken free throws. Akron took the ball down the court and did what everyone expected — got the ball to King, who is second in the conference in scoring at 20 points a game. King got a screen and was isolated on 5-6 guard Naddiyah Cross, made the basket and was fouled.

She missed the foul show, which probably was a good thing for Akron. Kent State’s Mckenna Stephens picked up the ball and after a couple of bounces, missed a desperation half court shot.

“It sucked. It sucked very hard,” Lurken said at a postgame press conference. Lurken had 11 points on two three pointers and five of six foul shots.

O’Banion and guard Melanee Stubbs were more positive, both pointing out how Kent State had battled back from behind by four points with three minutes to go.

On a night when. as O’Banion said, both teams “looked like the desert on offense,” four points was a lot. Neither team led by more than six in the game. The lead changed hands nine times.

Kent State held Akron — the highest scoring team in the conference with the highest field goal percentage — 20 points under its average. The Zips made just 30 percent of their shots — 14 percentage points under their average.

But Akron got eight more shots than Kent State, almost entirely because of offensive rebounding. The Zips had 17 offensive rebounds and nine second-chance points, compared to 10 offensive rebounds and four second-chance points for the Flashes.

In a one-point game, lots of things can make a difference:

  • Cici Shannon, Kent’s second-leading scorer and the MAC’s leading rebounder, was in foul trouble all game and fouled out with 1:43 to go. She played only 16 minutes and had five rebounds, six points and two blocks. Forward Jordan Korinek had four fouls and played only 23 minutes. She scored eight points and had six rebounds. Akron coach Jodi Kest said part of her team’s game plan was to go inside and to try to establish position quickly against the KSU forwards. The Zips got two offensive fouls on Shannon.
  • Kent State guard Krista White missed the game with what O’Banion called a “bum wheel — as medical as I can do it.” White was in a walking boot. O’Banion said she was “day to day.” White averages about seven points a game and is one of Kent’s better defenders. Without her, Kent State had only eight scholarship players in uniform and four guards, including Lurken, who’s primarily a wing. But because of the foul trouble, Kent State at times had all four guards on the floor. Point guards Mikell Chinn and Cross played together much of the time.
  • Kent State didn’t shoot much better than Akron — 36 percent, about 4 percentage points below its average.
  • Akron and Kent each made 30 percent of their three-point shots, but that was 6 of 20 for Akron and 3 of 10 for Kent State.

But in the end, the difference was King — a high-scoring, senior money player who had 20 points and 12 rebounds — and the winning basket.

Notes:

  • Chinn had a career-high 11 assists and — at 5-foot-6 — led the Flashes with seven rebounds.
  • For the second game in a row, Kent State had fewer turnovers than its opponent (13 to Akron’s 16) and scored more points off turnovers (14 to 10). KSU made only three turnovers in the second half.
  • Kent State blocked seven shots — two by Shannon and Stephens and one each by Korinek, Cross and Montia Johnson.
  • Attendance was 1,134, the highest of the season. “An awesome environment,” O’Banion said.

Kent State, which is now 5-21 and 3-12 in the MAC, plays its last regular-season road game at Miami Saturday. The Redhawks beat Bowling Green 58-51 at home Wednesday to move into a tie with KSU for 10th in the conference (fourth in the East). BG is last at 2-13. Akron is now third in the MAC (second to Ohio in the East) at 10-5 and 20-6 overall.

Other MAC scores Wednesday:

  • Eastern Michigan (15-11, 9-7 MAC) 56, Ball State (15-11, 11-4) 41, at Ball State.
  • Northern Illinois (11-14, 7-8) 69, Central Michigan (12-14, 7-8) 62, at Northern.
  • Toledo (19-10, 9-6) 67, Western Michigan (16-10, 9-6) 57, at Toledo.
  • Ohio (22-4, 13-2) 78, Buffalo (15-11, 8-7) 79, at Ohio.

Full KSU box score here. MAC standings here.

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3 comments

  1. goldenflash101

    Certainly one of their best games of the year. You would never have known Akron was 20-6 and Kent was 5-21. What are the differences?

    1. Somehow Akron has made it to this point of the season with 14 healthy players. Kent started with 15 and they lost 3 to homesickness, 2 to season ending injury and Krista White to injury recently. We only had 8 scholarship players. It looks like O’Banian has picked up the Bob Lindsay tradition. This probably should be a topic some other day.

    2. Akron has a money player in Sina King. Shannon’s strength is defense but she was hardly noticed by King. We get 10 points max from the center position. Kings total is whatever Akron needs.

    3. Anita (I forgot her last name) can outplay any of our 2 guards. Stubbs is coming around but can’t compete with Anita (I forgot her last name) on a night by night basis.

    4. On the wing Lurken pretty much matches up with Hannah (you know what goes here). Probably not quite as good a shooter but the rest of her game is better.

    5. Other than that Akron was the same or worse. I was extremely unimpressed with their point guard play. Unfortunately we get no points to speak of out of our point guard so we really could not take advantage.

    We need an all MAC player. Somebody we can go to. CiCi just doesn’t have the offensive skills to be that person and besides she is gone. Lurken is good but too easy to take out of the offensive game plan. Until we have other threats or until she develops another skill she will be average. A combo of her and Stubbs would be what we need.

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    • Carl Schierhorn

      Sort of silly of me, but I finally figured out how to reply to comments. I should have been doing tis to “goldenflash01″‘s good comments all season.
      1. I don’t think O’Banion is following the “Lindsay tradition” at all in terms of roster size. For some reason, Bob seems to like a small roster; in his later years, especially, he rarely had a recruiting class big enough to to take his numbers to more than 10 or 11, and it hurt the team. I never figured out if it was a financial thing or that he didn’t want players unhappy for lack of playing time. But I though it hurt the team, at times badly.

      I don’t think you can blame quit for two season injuries (not counting White). Maybe losing the two kids to homesickness was the result of a bad decision in recruiting, but I know they worked very hard to talk Lydia Poe out of going home last summer. She wanted to leave, and her parents wanted her to leave. I think Madison Ridout had a very serious hometown boyfriend she missed terribly and to some extent, she was unhappy with playing time — though I don’t see whom she should have been playing ahead. Poe and Ridout were cousins from Jackson HIgh School in Jackson County south of Athens. That doesn’t seem like that far to me, and I would have thought the two of them being here would have made it more likely they would have stayed. Instead it probably made it less once Poe left Both on paper were good recruits — they each averaged nearly 20 points a game on a team that lost only two or three games Ridout was district player of the year and third-team all state. But as I’ve written before, Kent does have three guards in the incoming freshmen class — two averaging 15 points a game and one 20 on championship high school teams. I don’t think they’ll miss Ridout much next year. Actually losing her will help balance the roster. They have only one senior (Mel Stubbs) next season, so now they’ll have two scholarships to give. I hear they already have a commitment from a wing player.

      2. A player like Sina King has been missing from Kent State for a long time. She’s special — my candidate for player of the year in the MAC, even ahead of Crystal Bradford of WMU. The last player KSU had like her was Lindsay Shearer. Could Jordan Korinek be that kind of player? I’ll be surprised and disappointed if she’s not a 1,000-point scorer when she graduates (she has 180 so far in her freshman season). Sure she needs to get better — what freshman doesn’t — but she’s potentially all-MAC before she graduates. I was looking at the statistics of conference freshmen earlier this week. There really is no player that jumps out. Biggest scorer is Miami’s Baleigh Reid at 10.7 points a game. Jay Bravo-Harriott of Toledo averages 9.0 and is ninth in the conference’s in three-point shooting. Kerry McMahan, Akron’s freshman point guard, is third in the MAC in assists. I think Korinek — who ninth in the conference in field goal percentage despite a terrible December and early January — should be in the discussion for the MAC all-freshman team.

      3. Yeah, Akron’s Anita Brown is very good — good enough to be third in the conference in scoring. It’s clear one of Kent’s big problems has been lack of a high-scoring guard. Stubbs has scored at times — she’s actually 12th in the conference in field goal percentage; Krista White averages about seven a game and scored 20 a couple of games before Christmas. But I don’t think either are in Brown’s league. An incoming freshmen from Michigan named Megan Carter is averaging more than 20 points a game and scored more than 30 against two ranked teams. She’s supposed to have a very good jumper off the dribble. Even nicer, I saw her coach quoted as saying she’s only had something like 12 turnovers in 16 games. She can play the point or the two guard. (I have this vague idea that Brown was interested in coming to Kent State before Lindsay got fired. O’Banion didn’t get hired until April and never really had a chance on that year’s freshman class.)

      4. Lurken has had a disappointing season. She’s supposed to be Kent’s designated shooter, but she’s averaging only 33 percent from the field (31 percent on three pointers). Both are about what she did as a freshman. Her foul shooting has been much worse than last year — it was barely 50 percent for most of the season but is up to 58 percent now after making 9 of 10 in her last two games. Last year she made 78 percent. Part of her shooting problems may be because other teams know she’s Kent’s only real outside threat. I know you’ve been critical of her being a one-dimensional shooter. I remember her saying in the team’s big preseason press conference that she had worked hard on developing a shot in which she fakes the three and drives for a pull-up jumper. But we haven’t seen much of that. I know she works very hard on her shooting and wants to be good very badly; she had the drive to want to be a team captain this season as a sophomore. It will be interesting to see how she plays with Tyra James (the freshman who blew out her knee before the season startedd). James is also a wing. She’s 5-11 and was a 20-point scorer in high school (37 in one game against a nationally ranked team). She’s not at all strictly a long-range shooter — more like Amy Sherry was (though it seems crazy to compare a freshman who’s never played with one of Kent’s best ever). I think you’ll see James and Lurken playing at the same time next year — with Lurken at the two guard. With the three freshmen and Rachel Mendelsohn coming back from her knee injury, they’ll be some major fights for playing time at guard next season.

      5. And point guard. Akron’s McMahan is just a freshman but probably the best freshman point in the MAC. Chinn has made a huge difference to Kent in the last half dozen games (21 assists in her last two). But it’s terribly frustating to watch other teams play five feet off of her because she has know outside shot. (There have been a lot of games this season when she hasn’t shot at all; it’s clear O’Banion is pushing her to shoot at least a little.) Naddiyah Cross is also a freshman. I think she’s potentially better than you seem to; she does seem to have the potential of an outside shot and at one point this season had more assists than Chinn per game. But I’m not sure she’s a championship guard. Another incoming freshman, Taylor Parker from Detroit, is a point guard on the team that’s been runner-up in the city three years in a row. She averages about 15 a game. Like Cross, neither she nor Parker are very big — around 5-6 or 5-7.

      So yes, they need an all-MAC player. They haven’t had one since Jamilah Humes in 2011 (second team then, first in 2010). Maybe Korinek some day. Maybe James. Maybe Parker. But how can you talk about someone who’s never played as all MAC.

      Someday soon I’ll do a roundup on all the incoming freshmen, including the two post players.

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  2. goldenflash101

    Just a couple of comments. First I didn’t mean to say OBanion and Lindsay recruit the same way. All I meant was Kent teams over the years seem to have more players leave and get injured. One of our best teams (2002) ended the season with only 3 guards. Zerman, Nance and Bader were all that was left by season end. Buelow had a hissy fit and left mid season (about the same time Ridout left) and Morgan O’hara went down with a knee injury. You really only need 11 players. When it gets down to 8 though your in trouble.

    Secondly, I think rating point guards only on assists totals isn’t correct. That’s their basic job. What I don’t see from our 1’s are enough points scored and tough assists. We do an awful lot of dribbling, get shots off late in the shot clock because of it and don’t feed the post very well. It effects the whole team. I saw (admitedly a sample size of one) some of the same from Akron. Neither team had a point that even comes close to Burden, Smith-Goldman or Zerman. At their best there a Gibson. We had only one good season with her. I know that I’m a little tough but when a team has a record of 15-73 there is either a lack of talent or coaching. Yes players improve with time but a three year stretch of 35-53 wouldn’t impress me much either and that would be an awful lot of improvement due to experience.

    Although we all have been told Ridout was homesick that doesn’t make a lot of sense in mid February. Playing time (I agree she didn’t deserve more) makes more sense. When teams are 5-21 things like that can happen. Not a lot of playing time and a lot of losing can make players better than Ridout leave. Remeber Stutzman? In her case it was not liking Lindsay and playing time. That depth at guard might have won us a MAC title in 2011. She went on to win the Division 2 national title. Hope history doesn’t repeat.

    Interesting comment on our incoming point guard. At 5’6″ or 5’7″ that’s plenty big for a 1. There is no way Cross is 5’6″. She was 5’3″ when she was recruited and Chinn at 5’6″ sure looks taller than her. I know teams cheat on that as Zerman wasn’t 5’8″ , Gates wasn’t 6’5″ and I’m not 6’6″ but a legitimate 5’6″ would be good enough if she has other skills.

    I agree with you 100% on Lurken. I would suspect she didn’t work that hard on driving and pulling up for 12 footer very hard last summer. If she did, she just doesn’t have that skill. She basically lurks (pun intended) at the three point line waiting for the ball. Is beginning to remind me of the CMU senior from last year (don’t feel like looking up the name but it was Italian) . Very good floor player and a good three point shooter, only with all the other threats on CMU last year she came open much more often. It remains to be seen whether Lurken will hit more shots when we have more threats. As far as her free throw misses that just certifies her as a Golden Flash.

    That’s enough for now.

    Like

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