It’s starting to become pretty clear:
If you stop Jordan Korinek, you beat Kent State.
Korinek — KSU’s leading scorer — had a 12-point first half to help the Flashes to a 35-29 lead over Brown, which came into the game with an 8-1 record.
But she was able to get off only three shots and scored two points in the second half.
Kent State scored only 22 points on 28 percent shooting in the half as Brown won, 62-55, in an afternoon game at the MACC.
“Whether they play a zone or man-to-man, we have to get Jordan more touches,” coach Danny O’Banion said in her postgame radio interview.
Brown made substantial adjustments to its defense in the second half, playing considerable zone defense and playing Korinek closely in man to man.
The Braves also adjusted their offense. After the first quarter, KSU’s zoned defense had limited Brown shots and baskets from three-point distance. In the second half, the Braves were able to work the ball inside, often with good interior passing.
They also outscored the Flashes 11-3 on points off turnovers in the half (17-6 for the game), even though the turnovers were pretty even (Brown 14, KSU 16).
Korinek ended with a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds.
In Kent State’s three wins, Korinek averaged 22.3 points per game. In road losses to Bradley and Youngstown State the week before finals, Korinek scored a total of 16 points on a total of 15 shots. The pattern was the same — denying Korinek the ball in the paint.
Larissa Lurken led the Flashes with 17 points, mostly on a season-high five three-pointers. Overall, Kent made a season-high eight long-range baskets out of 26 shots. McKenna Stephens had season highs of 11 points and seven rebounds.
Kent State ends its non-conference season with a 3-7 record.
The Flashes led 46-45 after a three-point Lurken shot in the last seconds of the third quarter. But Brown scored the first basket of the fourth quarter and led by between three and five points for the last four minutes.
Kent State was within 58-55 with 1:31 to go but missed three three-point shots at the end.
Three other key reasons KSU lost:
- Brown blocked eight KSU shots. If the Flashes score five points on those shots, the game is in overtime. Youngstown State also blocked eight shots, Bradley three and North Dakota State four. On the season, KSU opponents average 4.1 blocks a game. KSU averages 1.2.
- Kent State’s dribble-drive offense had the Flashes taking the most foul shots in the MAC. Tuesday they took only five and missed four. Brown committed eight fouls.
- Redshirt freshman Tyra James, KSU’s third-leading scorer, scored only four points and played only 18 minutes, both season lows. She didn’t start for the first time in her short career.
- After Youngstown State made 15 three-point shots and had 29 assists on 31 baskets, KSU “was on high alert” on defense, in O’Banion’s words. Brown made 8 of 23 three-pointers (34 percent) and had 12 assists on 25 baskets.
- Freshman Alexa Golden, who has started three of the last four games, scored seven points with 2 of 4 three-pointers, had six rebounds and two steals. “We want to make Alexa and Keziah Lewis into legitimate three-point threats,” O’Banion said. KSU is averaging about 25 percent on three-point shots and making just four a game. Both are last in the MAC. (Lewis, a junior college transfer who was 2 for 2 in three-pointers against Youngstown State, was 0 for 1 Tuesday.)
- Point guard Naddiyah Cross had a career-high 12 assists on KSU’s 24 baskets. But she was 0 for 6 shooting. Because of foul trouble and some defensive lapses, she had played less than 20 minutes in Kent’s last two games and didn’t start two of her last three. She started and played 36 minutes Tuesday.
- KSU had only five steals. The Flashes had led the MAC and were 13th in the nation with 11.8 a game.
- From Brown coach Sara Behn: “This might be our biggest win, especially coming off of finals and coming off a break. Playing at Kent State – they are a really good team in a really good conference.” Here’s link to story from Brown website.
- Star Brown freshman Shayna Mehta, who averaged 14.2 points a game and made 7 of 7 three-pointers in her last game, didn’t play.
KSU is now off for Christmas and opens MAC play at Central Michigan on Saturday, Jan. 2. CMU is 5-4. Every team in the league except Kent State, Bowling Green (4-5) and Toledo (4-6) has a winning record, and Toledo has won four in a row.