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.