A game not unlike Kent State’s season

Kent State’s season-ending 70-52 loss at Eastern Michigan was a lot like the Flashes’ season.

The team played well in spots but turned the ball over too much, didn’t shoot well enough in the second half and got inconsistent play from some key people.

Kent State led the first-round MAC tournament game 28-27 at halftime. The Flashes made 11 turnovers in the first nine minutes and trailed 14-10, but they didn’t make another turnover of the rest of the half. They shot 44 percent and held Eastern to 26 percent shooting, shutting down Eastern star guard Cha Sweeney with just a single basket.

But the Flashes made five turnovers in the first eight minutes of the second half. Eastern turned four of them into nine points and moved to a 44-32 lead. Kent State got back within six points but Eastern pulled away over the last six minutes. The Eagles shot 57 percent in the second half, Kent State 29 percent.

The final score was almost identical to EMU’s 70-53 victory in Kent Feb. 4, but the game was almost reversed. In that game, the Eagles jumped out to a 39-26 halftime lead, and Kent played them even for the second half.

Cici Shannon, named third-team all-MAC earlier in the day (see post below), led Kent State with 12 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. It was her 10th double-double of the season.

But point guard Mikell Chinn, key to Kent State’s better play in the second half of the season, made seven turnovers (she did have seven assists). Leading scorer Larissa was 3 of 12 from the field and 2 of 10 on three-pointers. Forward Jordan Korinek had just even points and three rebounds.

“I typically am not very emotional after a game, but I’m going to have a hard time in the locker room,” coach Danny O’Banion said in her postgame radio interview. “This team got the program to the point where we can compete and compete well in every game.

“I’m incredibly proud of our kids. They believed in each other and improved.

“I’m really excited about the team moving forward. Our stats are up across the board over three years — field goal percentage, assists, turnovers. This team is a special group.”

Shannon, Chinn, guard Melanee Stubbs and forward Montia Johnson are graduating.

Returning are Lurken, a sophomore, and Korinek, a freshman, along with sophomore guard Krista White, freshman guard Naddiyah Cross, and freshman forward Mckenna Stephens. Junior Rachel Mendelsohn will return after missing the season with a knee injury. Freshman Tyra James, one of the team’s top recruits this season, also missed the season with a knee injury.

The Flashes have three guards and two post players in their incoming freshman class.

Kent State finishes the season at 5-25, 3-15 in the MAC. The Flashes finished fifth in the MAC East, 11th overall.

No. 6 seed Eastern Michigan (19-11, 11-7 MAC) advances to a Wednesday game against No. No 7 Toledo (18-12, 10-8), which beat Miami 62-47 Monday.

Other first-round tournament scores:

No. 5 Western Michigan (19-11, 11-7) 65, No. 12 Bowling Green (9-22, 2-16) 42, at Western.

No. 9 Central Michigan (13-17, 7-11) 49. No. 8 Northern Illinois (12-17, 8-10) 44, at Northern.

Western and Central will play Wednesday, with the  winner playing No. 4 Buffalo in Thursday’s quarterfinals. The winner will play No. 1 Ohio in Friday’s semifinals.

The winner of the Eastern Michigan-Toledo game will play No. 3 Akron Thursday. The winner of that game will play No. 2 Ball State in the semifinals.

The championship game is at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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6 comments

  1. goldenflash101

    I did a little research on the last two seasons and found out that in both seasons we improved significantly between the first 9 and last 10 conference games. Last year we went from losing by an average of 20 points (1-8 record) to losing by 12 (3-7 record). This year the numbers went from 15(1-7) to 8(2-8). i think the most important thing here is our point differential went from -16 to -11. If we can reduce it by another 5 next year maybe we can start winning 10+ games. It would be nice.

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  2. goldenflash101

    I’d like to point out something’s about next years team. First, we have lost 5 players who played significant minutes. They are Stubbs, Johnson, Shannon, Chinn and Ridout. Those players played 44% of the available minutes (through the first 28 games). If Chinn and Johnson would not have been hurt and Ridout stayed that number would go up to 52% (they played and average of 104 minutes per game in the games they were available. We need to replace those minutes before we can get better. I have no idea how our freshman will help but here are my thoughts on the 6 players we have some info on.

    Lurken: A critical year for her. I am beginning to think she will not adjust as her three pointers when she has to release quickly or her two point shots on the move just do not go in. Another three point shooter will help but the odds of her getting to be a player like Bader are dwindling. A Shibata or Rachel Larson seem more likely.

    White: Not bad. Can get to the basket and play some defense but must improve both to be anything more than a back-up.

    Cross: could be better than Chinn because she can shoot a little. But she is not my idea of a championship point guard. Her height will always make her a liability in slow paced half court games. Burden pulled it off because the ran and pressed over 50% of the time. Also we never won a championship until we stopped doing that so it really isn’t an option for Cross.

    Stephens: I like her mid range jumper and I think she has a chance of really making the team better. Needs to get in better shape so she can play more minutes.

    Korinek: I have cooled off on her but still think she could be a better scorer that Shannon. I think playing the 4 was not good for her. She might be a lot better suited for the 5. She is a real wild card.

    Peterson: if she sets her mind on getting shape she could help as she has some good moves in the post. However she came back this year in worse shape so I don’t have much hope. She obviously had some unknown injury this year so I don’t how that effects things.

    Mendelsohn: a real wild card. We know she can shoot but coming off her knee injury who knows. I have seen players come off a year of not playing and make large improvements (Bader) or lose interest (Czaear, Rubis). We’ll see after five games or so.

    Miller: I think she was a walk-on so I doubt we will see her back. Didn’t play even one minute so I doubt it matters.

    Bottom line we need a lot of help from the 6 freshman that we haven’t seen play yet. If that class turns out as poorly as this years we are in serious trouble. Realistically even if they are good it will take awhile to integrate them. We need to see real improvement throughout next year. Not cutting down the point margin of our losses but starting to win games. As I have said before ten to twelve wins is a must or I at least will totally give up on the coaching staff.

    I am looking forward to a review of the freshmans high school careers. Last year there were many who had less than impressive stats (Cross being the obvious one ). I know stats don’t translate automatically but it at least gives you a clue. We need this class to produce!

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  3. goldenflash101

    Both EMU and WMU won today. Both teams won by comfortable margins and neither were threatened the last 10 minutes or so. It’s great to be at a women’s tournament with no BGSU fans. The Toledo fans were not as plentiful as usual and pretty quiet. Another good thing. Now if only Kent were here. Without BG or Kent fans the place was pretty quiet. It should pick up tomorrow with Akron playing. I myself will be rooting for Ball St. and our old friend Bradie Sallee. I am on the same floor as the Akron men’s team. I feel like a spy in enemy territory.

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  4. goldenflash101

    Sweeney from EMU proved me wrong as far as 5’2″ point guards being effective. She is quick enough to get by any defender and somehow gets her shot off among the trees. Also is a three point threat. She made Akrons all freshman point guard (I still don’t see why she got that award, she never drives even though she is relatively tall for a point, never shoots from 3 and for that matter hardly at all, just makes basic perimeter passes, aggravates the coach a lot and only plays 25 minutes a game) look helpless. I think Akron got exposed as basically a two women team today. Sina went off early with 15 points in the first ten minutes and then was shutdown. Also EMU was deadly from three (shot about 60% and made 15). Akron never adjusted and just let them fire away. For a #3 seed Akron really was embarrassed.

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  5. goldenflash101

    Their May recruiting class was more of the same. Two undersized (5’10”) power forwards. A transfer from a 2-28 Illinois St. team that played a few minutes in every game and scored less than 5 a game. Also had a bunch of turnovers. She has to sit out a year but doesn’t appear to be anything to look forward to. We have 9 first year players so coach has a built in excuse if we start losing again. I hope I am wrong but I don’t have much optimism.

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