For the first half Saturday, Kent State looked like team that could win its share of games in the rest of the MAC season.
Coming off their first league victory Wednesday, the Flashes shot well, dominated inside and played solid defense on their way to a 31-28 halftime lead over Western Michigan.
But in the second half they shot badly, struggled with foul trouble and had problems defending late three-point shooting. WMU pulled away to a 65-53 victory.
Kent State is now 4-15 on the season, 1-8 halfway through the MAC season. Western is 13-8, 5-4 in the conference.
“We felt pretty good about what we were doing at halftime,” coach Danny O’Banion said in her postgame radio interview. “But we’ve got to come out and keep it going. The third quarter was when things shifted.”
The Flashes turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the second half and missed six of their first seven shots. Western made five of its first seven shots, including two three-pointers, and moved to a 44-39 lead after three quarters.
The game got away after a long play stoppage caused by an apparently serious injury to a Western Michigan player.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, Western’s LaTondra Brooks fouled Kent’s Naddiyah Cross on a drive to the basket and fell backwards, hitting her head on the floor.
Brooks lay on her back for almost a half hour while trainers stabilized her head and neck. Paramedics finally took her to the hospital. Her condition wasn’t immediately known.
Cross made one of the two free throws with 6:55 to go.
Then Western ran off 11 straight points, including three wide-open three-point shots, and the game was gone.
Kent State managed only 22 points in the second half on 33 percent shooting. Even that percentage was deceptively high. The Flashes made four or their last five shots when the game was out of reach. Take that out, and their second-half shooting percentage was 18 percent — 3 of 16.
Western, which shot 36 percent, made 52 percent of its shots in the second half.
Larissa Lurken, who scored 37 points against Northern on Wednesday, had 11 points on 3 of 12 shooting. She just missed her second double-double in a row with nine rebounds. Western guarded her especially well on the perimeter; she got off just two three-point shots after making seven of eight Wednesday.
Jordan Korinek led the Flashes with 18 points, but eight of those came in the last three minutes when the Broncos led by 15. Korinek picked up two fouls in the first half, her third halfway through the third quarter and her fourth with two minutes to go in the third. She played only 24 minutes.
“We need to be better at adjusting to the way the game is being officiated,” O’Banion said. “Things were called today that weren’t being called Wednesday.”
Three of Korinek’s four fouls were offensive fouls, two for illegal screens.
O’Banion said those weren’t all Korinek’s fault.
“Jordan’s being a good teammate,” the coach said. “The problem is impatience on the part of the recipient of the screen. They’re not waiting for the screen to be solid.”
In a pregame interview on Golden Flash iHeart radio, assistant coach Geoff Lanier said the Flashes most needed to own the inside game and keep Western from scoring in transition. In KSU’s loss to the Broncos Jan. 13, WMU scored 38 points in the paint and 23 off turnovers.
Saturday KSU outscored Western 26-16 in the paint and 16-13 off turnovers.
What didn’t go right was the Broncos’ outside shooting — 10 of 20 three-point shots and KSU’s lack of second-half offense.
- Western’s Miracle Woods, who scored 23 points against Kent on 11 of 11 shooting in Kalamazoo, had just six Saturday. She was pressed hard on defense by Korinek and Chelsi Watson and got off just three shots. She also got in foul trouble and played just 24 minutes.
- Freshman walk-on Paige Salisbury started her first game and played 26 minutes. She had a basket, two rebounds, three assists and a steal. Both she and Cross started as KSU began the game with two point guards.
- Watson, a junior college transfer, started her second straight game and played a career-high 29 minutes. She had six points and six rebounds.
- Tyra James, the third of KSU’s “Big Three” scorers, had a rough day, making 2 of 7 field goals, 3 of 10 free throws and six turnovers.
- Kent State, which made 22 of 24 free throws Wednesday, made 13 of 22 Saturday.
- Western had 18 assists on 21 baskets. It’s a pattern that if opponents have assists on a high percentage of their baskets, KSU is in trouble.
The Flashes travel to Miami Wednesday. The Redskins are 8-11 and 2-6, a game ahead of Kent State in the MAC East standings. They lost to Central Michigan 77-54 Saturday.
Other MAC scores:
- Ohio (17-3, 9-0) 68, Ball State (14-5, 6-2) 67, at Ball State.
- Northern Illinois (9-11, 2-7) 76, Buffalo (10-9, 206) 74, at Northern.
- Toledo (10-9, 5-3) 75, Bowling Green ((8-10, 4-5) 61, at Toledo.
- Akron (11-9, 5-4) 75, Eastern Michigan (13-7, 4-5) 72, at Akron.
- Central Michigan (13-7, 7-2) 77, Miami (8-11, 2-6) 54, at Central.