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.
- 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.