A winnable opener

There are reasons to be optimistic about as Kent State’s home opener Sunday against Colgate.

  • The Flashes beat the Raiders on the road last year.
  • Colgate isn’t a particular good team. It was 9-22 and seventh in the Patriot League a year ago. It lost three starters, including its best player.
  • Kent State, 5-25 last season, returns two of its top three scorers and looks to have found another scorer in redshirt freshman Tyra James, who was impressive in the Flashes’ 73-45 exhibition win over Hiram.

But there are 10 question marks on the Kent State roster — the seven freshmen and two junior college transfers on the team, plus a junior who didn’t play at all last year as a walk-on.

Last year Kent State led most of the game against Colgate but needed a last-second pull-up jumper by Melanie Stubbs to win, 62-61. Stubbs had 12 points, Krista White 10 and Larissa Lurken 16 on 6 of 9 shooting. Lurken had been struggling going into the game; it actually was one of only two games last season last season she didn’t start. (She missed the other because of illness.)

Point guard Naddiyah Cross and forward Jordan Korinek both started that game as freshmen. Neither played well. Cross didn’t score and had three assists and two turnovers. Korinek had seven turnovers and five points.

Colgate forced 23 KSU turnovers and scored 21 points off of them. Kent State 20 points off 18 Colgate turnovers. That could be where the game is decided Sunday.

The Raiders were led in that game by 6-3 senior forward Josie Stockhill, who had 18 points. She’s Colgate’s top returning scorer, averaging 10.3 points a game last year and setting a school record with 68 blocked shots. Senior guard Randyll Butler, who made 44 percent of her shots last year, hit seven of nine shots against Kent and led the team in rebounding with nine. In that game, Colgate leading scorer Carole Harris, a second-team all-conference player, was hurt in the first half and scored just four points in 11 minutes. Colgate made only 2 of 13 three-point shots.

The Raiders beat Division III King’s College of Pennsylvania 81-37 in its exhibition game last week. It had 69 rebounds, 18 steals and forced 30 turnovers. It also shot only 38 percent and committed 21 turnovers of its own.

Lurken is Kent State’s leading returning scorer, averaging 11.1 last season. She had 24 in the exhibition against Hiram, 19 in the first half. Korinek was the team’s third leading scorer at 7.2 points a game. She was in foul trouble all game against Hiram and scored just two points.

The game is at 2 p.m. in the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center. Audio broadcast starts at 1:45 on WHLO 640 and Golden Flashes iHeart Radio. You can get video and live statistics through the Kent State website.

The Flashes play again against Wright State (25-9 last season) at 11 a.m. Tuesday in a game where they’ve invited a host of middle-school students. On Thursday, they travel to Indiana-Purdue (9-21) at Fort Wayne.

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