The Flashes take their best start in five years on the road to Bradley University Tuesday.
The Flashes are 3-4. Only once since 2011-12 have the Flashes won three non-conference games, and it took eight games to get there in 2013. KSU won two in each of coach Danny O’Banion’s other two seasons and two in 2011-12, Bob Lindsay’s last season.
In 2010-11, Kent State went 9-3 outside the conference and was 20-10 overall. It was the last season KSU had a winning record.
The Flashes are coming off one of their best games in those five years. They beat North Dakota State 75-54 Saturday, forcing 34 turnovers and making 20 steals.
That formula would be a good one against Bradley, which had 23 turnovers in a 66-56 home loss to Illinois-Chicago (5-1) Saturday.
Like Kent State, the Braves are 3-4. It has beaten Detroit and Chicago State, two other teams with below .500 records, on the road, along with Division III Eureka College. It has lost to No. 17 Oklahoma, Western Michigan, Bowling Green and Illinois-Chicago. All those teams have winning records.
The Bradley game is the second of only three non-conference road games. KSU lost at Indiana Purdue at Fort Wayne, 86-68, on Nov. 19. They play their third away game Saturday at Youngstown State.
Bradley averages 63.1 points a game and has scored fewer than 60 in four games. The Braves padded their average with 87 against Eureka, which is 1-5. (Bradley team website.)
Bradley’s RPI is 300 (of 350 teams). Kent State’s is 319, according to the website Realtimerpi.com. The site rates Bradley’s schedule strengh at 168 and Kent’s at 282.
Bradley averages 35.8 percent shooting (32.6 on three-pointers). Its leading scorer is 6-foot sophomore guard Anneke Schlueter, who averages 12.4 points a game, and leading rebounder is 5-10 junior guard Leti Lerma at 7.4 a game. The Braves average one more rebound a game than their opponents. Their tallest starters are 6-2 and 6-1 forwards.
Kent State’s tallest starter is 6-2 sophomore forward Jordan Korinek, who leads the Flashes in scoring (18.6 points a game) and rebounding (7.7). Korinek had been the only Flash starter taller than 5-11 until 6-foot McKenna Stephens, who had been sidelined with a knee injury, was in the line-up Saturday. Chelsi Watson, who had started the first six games at forward, is 5-10, though she has the highest vertical leap on the team. Redshirt freshman guard Tyra James is second on the team in rebounding with a 5.1 average.
The Flashes have been outrebounded by an average of 5.6, and four teams have outrebounded them by at least 11.
Their other biggest weakness has been three-point shooting, where they’re averaging only 23.1 percent and 3.4 a game. Junior Larissa Lurken, KSU’s best three-point shooter, is hitting only 26.2 percent of her shots, 5 percentage points below the average of her first two years here.
The Flashes have been able to overcome the rebounding and outside shooting problems by forcing the pace (and turnovers), driving to the basket and feeding Korinek inside. They’ve averaged 14 assists per game with a season-high 20 on Saturday. Kent State has had assists on 63 percent of its baskets this season. (Full KSU statistics)
KSU leads the MAC in steals per game at 12.4 and is second in turnovers margin at plus-3.43.
The game starts at 8 p.m. Kent time. Audio starts at 7:45 on WHLO 640 AM and Golden Flash iHeart Radio. You can get video through ESPN3 and live statistics through the Bradley website. You need to subscribe to ESPN through cable or satellite to get the video.