Game 2 will be a lot harder.
Coming off a heady 76-71`opening victory against Colgate, Kent State’s women will host Wright State at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The unusual morning start is “Kid’s Day,” in which more than 300 students from Kent’s Davey Elementary School will be in attendance. The Kent State team has done volunteer work at the school this fall, helping teach lessons, working one-on-one with activities and participating in gym classes. (Here’s a link to a video and Kent State website story on their work.)
The students will be noisy, and Kent State will need the help against Wright State. The Raiders were 25-9 last season and second in the Horizon League.
Colgate, on the other hand, was 9-22 and seventh in the Patriot League. Kent State was 5-25 last season.
Wright State features one of the best players the Flashes will see this season in 5-8 guard Kim Demmings, a fifth-year senior who was Horizon League player of the year in 2013-14. She was hurt in last season’s first game and never got back on the court. Two years ago she averaged 22.4 points a game, sixth in Division I. She can score on the drive and shoot from anywhere.
Demmings scored 27 points, including the 2,000th of her career, in Wright State’s opening 80-67 loss to Miami of Florida, which had received votes in preseason national polls. Wright State led by as many as 11 points in the first quarter but in the end gave up 22 points off 19 turnovers. Only seven Raiders played, and reserves scored just two points.
5-9 senior guard Symone Denham is the only starter returning from last season. Demimings scored six points a game last season and had 17 against Miami.
6-5 junior center Richelle van der Keijl, a native of the Netherlands, had 10 points and 12 rebounds. In league games last season, she ranked first in field goal percentage (.595) and third in blocks per game (1.5).
In its opener, Kent State got a career-high 23 points from junior guard Larissa Lurken. Redshirt freshman Tyra James scored 17 in her first college game, sophomore forward Jordan Korinek had 12 points and eight rebounds, and sophomore point guard Naddiyah Cross had five steals and seven assists and eight points.
Kent State broke open a tied halftime game with a press that produced 15 straight points to start the third quarter.
The 76 points the Flashes scored were the most by the team in four years.
Lurken, Korinek and Cross are the only three players who ever had played Division I basketball before. Counting James, five freshmen and two junior college transfers saw action. Sophomore forward McKenna Stephens, who played 15 minutes a game last year, was out with a knee injury and almost certainly won’t play against Wright State.
The game against the Raiders is part of a clear scheduling plan by coach Danny O’Banion. Kent State plays four teams that like Wright State won at least 19 games and made a postseason tournament. The other six non-conference games are against teams that didn’t have close to a winning record. Seven of the non-conference games are at home.
The Flashes play their third game in five days Thursday at Indiana Purdue at Fort Wayne, which was 7-21 last season.