Kent State had looked surprisingly good in its first two games.
The women looked surprisingly less good at Indiana Purdue at Fort Wayne Thursday, losing 86-68.
Kent is now 1-2 on the season
IPFW was 9-21 last season and had just two starters returning. They were 2-0 but had played Division III and NAIA schools.
But the Mastodons handled Kent State as easily as they had handled the smaller schools. They jumped to a 13-2 lead in the first five minutes, and Kent State never got closer than nine after the middle of the second quarter. The lead got as big as 24.
IPFW attacked Kent State’s zone defense far better than either Colgate or Wright State. The Mastodons shot over it (12 of 24 three-pointers) and inside it (20 assists, many on inside passes). The Flashes had kept their first two opponents well under 30 percent on three-pointers and to 35 percent shooting overall. IPFW made 52 percent of its shots.
Kent State made 20 turnovers that led to 25 IPFW points. The Flashes forced just 12 turnovers. They had forced 22 against both Colgate and Wright State and had a plus-five turnover margin in both games. The bulk of the turnovers came from two of Kent State’s most veteran players — junior Larissa Lurken (seven) and sophomore point guard Naddiya Cross (five).
The Flashes also missed four of their first six free throws, which might have kept them close in the first quarter, and were just 15 of 26 for the game.
Kent State, which was playing its third game in five days, seemed a step slower than it did earlier in the week.
“The players who we knew drove left, went left,” coach Danny O’Banion said in her postgame radio interview. “Those who drove right, went right. The people who we knew could shoot the three made the three.”
But the Flashes couldn’t stop them.
“They were better at being them than we were at being us tonight,” O’Banion said.
Sophomore forward Jordan Korinek had her best game of the season, scoring 17 points on seven of nine shooting and getting nine rebounds. She had eight rebounds in each of the first two games but hadn’t had a big impact on offense.
“Jordan played like a leader of this team, like an upperclassman instead of a sophomore,” O’Banion said. “She insisted of having touches.”
Cross had a career-high 16 points and scored repeatedly off of drives in the second half.
Redshirt freshman Tyra James, who averaged 18.5 through the first two games, had just eight points on 3 of 11 shooting. Lurken had 13 points, five rebounds and three steals.
- Freshman Megan Carter, one of Kent State’s top recruits and first players off the bench, was knocked to the floor on a drive to the basket in the second quarter and was taken to the locker room. She sat behind the bench in the second half. Carter also is Kent’s backup point guard; freshman Taylor Parker took over in that role in the second half.
- IPFW’s bench outscored KSU’s 24-7. Walk-on Paige Salisbury had three of those in her first college action. Lacey Miller, a walk-on last season who earned a scholarship, also saw her first appearance in a college game, though she played only a minute.
- The Mastodons made their first five three-point shots and seven of their first eight shots in the third quarter.
- Freshman Alexa Golden had two steals and has seven in three games. Merissa Barber-Smith, the 6-4 freshman from Wisconsin, blocked two shots in six minutes.
- Kent State made a season-best 49 percent of its shots.
- Kent State outscored IPFW 12-4 on fast breaks and 38-30 in the paint. It was mid-range jump shots and three-pointers that beat the Flashes.
The Flashes are off until Tuesday, when they’ll host Minnesota of the Big Ten. The Gophers are the first Big Ten team to come to Kent in at least 30 years. They’re led by redshirt senior guard Rachel Benham, who is picked as a second-team preseason all-American by ESPN.
The game is at 6:30 and part of a double header with the men’s team, who will play Saint Francis in the second game.