Kent State was able to slow Central Michigan’s high-scoring guards in Saturday’s MAC opener, but the Chippewas turned to freshman forward Reyna Frost.
Frost responded with 27 points, more than double her previous career high, and led CMU to a 81-61 victory in Mount Pleasant.
“That’s the way game plan works,” coach Danny O’Banion said in her postgame radio interviews. “We kept their guards from being comfortable and made someone else step up. Frost is a good player. She did.”
CMU’s Presley Hudson Cassie Breen had averaged almost six baskets on 17 three-point attempts a game. Each was 2 of 4 Saturday.
But Frost was 13 of 20 and had nine rebounds. As other teams have done when KSU’s match-up zone slowed their three-point game, CMU was able to find openings. Many of Frost’s baskets came on open jump shots. Central had 18 assists in breaking down KSU’s zone.
Frost and Tinara Moore handled KSU leading scorer Jordan Korinek in the post. Korinek made only 3 of 11 shots, by far her worst of the season. She had been fourth in the conference in shooting at 57 percent. She picked up two early fouls and sat out half of the first half.
“Jordan got a couple of point-blank shots (at the start of both halves),,” O’Banion said. “When they didn’t go in, she got frustrated.”
Tyra James had her best game since early November. She had 14 points off the bench on 6 of 10 shooting (2 of 2 three-pointers) and had four assists and four rebounds. James hadn’t scored in double figures since KSU’s third game and was shooting just 31 percent.
“It was nice to see,” O’Banion said. “She may be one of those players who does better when she doesn’t start. We’ll know more after the Toledo game, when she’s back on other teams’ scouting reports.
Kent State came from eight points down in the first half to tie the game at 28-28. But Central oustcored KSU 9-2 over the last five minutes of the second quarter and 12-3 in the first five minutes of the second-half.
“To open the third quarter, we let Central be Central,” O’Banion said. “We were getting them to miss their first shot, but they were getting the rebound and making their second.”
For the game, CMU outrebounded Kent 42-34.
- Central Michigan had 14 more shots than Kent (70-56) and nine more baskets.
- The Flashes had 16 turnovers to Central’s 10 and had just five steals. They had been leading the MAC in steads with 11.1 a game.
- Larissa Lurken had 11 points and three three-pointers. Korinek had 10 and eight rebounds.
- Starting point guard Naddiyah Cross had two points (1 of 5 shooting), two assists and five turnovers.
- KSU shot 52 percent in the first half but just 34 percent in the second.
- 6-4 freshman Merissa Barber-Smith, playing for the first time in three games, went 3 for 3 and had three rebounds in four minutes. Reserve point guard Taylor Parker had five points.
The Flashes play at Toledo Wednesday night.
Other Saturday MAC scores:
- Northern Illinois (8-4) 65, Akron (6-6) 58, at Akron
- Bowling Green (5-5) 64, Miami (6-6) 58, at Miami
- Ohio (9-3), Western Michigan (8-5) 63, at Ohio
- Ball State (9-3) 75, Toledo (5-7) 69, at Ball State
- Eastern Michigan (10-2) 67, Buffalo (8-4) 56, at Eastern