Season ends for Flashes with 73-60 loss at Eastern Michigan

For 36 minutes, Kent State coach Danny O’Banion said, her Flashes executed their game plan “with all their hearts.”

They played 19-10 Eastern Michigan even for most of the game, but some lovely point guard play by the Eagles’ Cha Sweeney and a lot of missed three-point shots ended KSU’s season Monday.

The final score in the first-round MAC Tournament game was 73-60. The game was closer than that as Eastern pulled away with foul shots at the end.

“I couldn’t be prouder of this basketball team, and I’m extremely disappointed for our players,” O’Banion said. “They competed and executed. No one believed more than the 15 women in our locker room.”

Those four minutes, O’Banion said, weren’t consecutive minutes. They were a few lapses in an otherwise fine effort.

A key time came in the last two minute of the third quarter, when Eastern broke a 47-47 tie with five straight points on on a three-point play and two foul shots.

As the teams traded baskets early in the fourth quarter, Sweeney, the 5-foot-2 spark of the Eastern team, made three great passes to open players under the basket that kept KSU from coming back. Sweeney, named second-team all conference for the second straight year earlier in the day, had 10 assists and six steals, along with 14 points.

McKenna Stephens led Kent with with a career-high 19 points on 9 of 14 shooting. Most of them came on 12- to 14-foot jump shots. She also had six rebounds. Jordan Korinek, named honorable mention all-MAC Monday, had 16 points, eight rebounds and a career-high four steals.

“McKenna is the heart of this team from a confidence standpoint,” O’Banion said. “Today she was primed to come out. She’s a highly skilled shooter, and it’s been fun to watch her play herself into condition so she could go for 33 minutes.”

Stephens missed the first five games of the season after arthroscopic knee surgery. In February, O’Banion said that Stephens, a redshirt sophomore forward, was doing 15 minutes extra of cardiovascular exercise every day to build her stamina.

Kent State, the worst three-point shooting team in conferences, was 2 of 17 against Eastern Michigan.

The Flashes finish the season with a record of 6-23. Last year it was 5-25.

Barring transfers, all 15 players on the KSU roster will be back next season. The team has no seniors. It has one incoming freshman, a transfer who will become eligible next season and one of its top freshman returning from an injury that sidelined her early in the season.

“I’m excited about future of this team,” O’Banion said. “I see us in this next season getting over the hump.”

Notes:

  • Eastern Michigan, now 20-10, will play Ball State in the MAC quarterfinals Wednesday.
  • The Eagles have beaten Kent State 11 straight times and knocked them out of the tournament in the first round for two years in a row.
  • Kent State outrebounded Eastern 31-28 and outscored them 28-20 in the paint. It outscored the Eagles — who are first in the MAC in turnover margin — 21 to 10 off turnovers.
  • In the end, it was three-point shooting (Eastern was 8 of 15 to KSU’s 2 of 17) and foul shooting (Eastern was 17 of 26, KSU 10 of 12) and 18 EMU assists on 24 baskets that ended Kent State’s season.

Box score

First-round MAC Tournament scores:

  • Fifth-seed Akron (18-12) 66, No. 12 Miami (9-21) 54.
  • No. 8 Buffalo (17-13) 60, No. 9 Bowling Green (10-18) 44.
  • No. 7 Western Michigan (17-14) 94, No. 10 Northern Illinois (11-19) 52.

Wednesday tournament schedule:

  • Buffalo vs. No. 1 Ohio (24-5).
  • Akron vs. No. 4 Toledo (17-12).
  • Western Michigan vs.No. 2 Central Michigan (20-9).
  • Eastern Michigan vs. No. 3 Ball State (21-8).

All-MAC teams:

  • All-conference first team:  Akron’s Anita Brown, Ball State’s Natalie Fontaine, Buffalo’s JoAnna Smith, Ohio’s Kiyanna Black, Toledo’s Brenae Harris.
  • All-freshman team: Ball State’s Carmen Grande, Bowling Green’s Sydney Lambert, Central Michigan’s Presley Hudson and Reyna Frost, Toledo’s Kayla McIntyre.
  • All-defensive team: Buffalo’s Stephanie Reid, Central Michigan’s Tinara Moore, Eastern Michigan’s Janay Morton, Ohio’s Quiera Lampkins and Jasmine Weatherspoon.
  • Full all-MAC listing is here. KSU’s Korinek (honorable mention) was the only Flash recognized.
  • Player of the year, freshman of the year and coach of the year will be announced later in the week.

 

 

 

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4 comments

  1. goldenflash101

    I’m glad it’s over. Nice to see McKenna develop. A third scorer will make a difference if she can become consistent. I wonder which of the fifteen players will disappear to make room for the freshman. After tonight I’m beginning to think the men’s team is also going into the tank. Woe are Kent basketball fans.

    What I’m looking forward to is watching Wednesday’s match up between Ohio and Buffalo. Can Buffalo do it a third time?

    I’m going to post in a few days on how I viewed the season both good and bad. This isn’t a good night to do it.

    Like

    • flashfanday1

      I’ve been saying this all season. There are some great players on this team (D1 worthy) and you could really see some promise last night if you’ve never seen it. Stevens played great, she has hot spots on the floor and she was able to get to them further proving balanced scoring is what Kent needs, instead of relying solely on Korinek and Lurken and maybe James. Eastern gave Kent every opportunity to take the game from them with poor scoring in spurts, but Kent under O’Banion continues to lack tenacity. Game after game they’ve yet to go out and win against a worthy team (I dont’ count NIU and Miami). What I mean by “go win” is go make Eastern or other MAC teams beat them, steal the game instead of just trying to hope a win falls down from the basketball gods. Yet again, with less than 5 – 3 min left trailing, Kent wasted valuable shot clock instead of attacking the basket. Your season ends here and you have a chance to shake up the bracket and yet you still go back to the same actions that continue to feed your Losses vs Wins. Confusing!! If something hasn’t worked for you all season, shouldn’t you try something different? Common Sense?

      A player like Che Sweeney playing for Kent at PG with Korinek, Lurken, Stevens, James? Only glimpse, I’ve seen of that type of player was freshmen Parker at the Youngstown St. game. Which brings me back to that PG Spot at Kent. I respect the safety Salisbury offers as a backup PG to rest an attacking 1st or 2nd string PG, but that position is tooooo safe at Kent. I haven’t given up on Cross, because i believe the problem lies at O’Banion’s feet with transition play and play calling at the wrong time, but she too is now too safe. It was nice to see Cross get a couple baskets in transition instead of pulling out and setting up again at the wrong time.

      I really don’t see Kent getting over any humps next season under her watch. I don’t think this is about “we’re a young team”. If she stays, I hope i eat my words. I’m not a gambling person, but i’d take that bet after the same history every year under this current tenure. This team could have made a real run for the MAC this year if any year.

      The best analogy I can give is, Kent women’s basketball is like a V8 shelby mustang being driven Like a 84 Escort with a 16 yr old drivers training student at the wheel.

      I saw a real desire to win from Kent last night, but they just didn’t’ go get it through the stretch!

      Like

      • goldenflash101

        Pretty much agree with you. I’m not as sold on Cross because of her size but her quickness is intriguing. I think what else is happening is the other team plays safely because they know Kent really can’t score. It gives us the impression we are close which causes the coach to continue to do the same things. As soon as we break out of our patterns, the other teams will put our defense under even more pressure. We still have some mountains to climb.

        We do have more division 1 talent then ever before. However after Lurken, Stevens, James, Korinek and Golden it drops off. I know your high on Watson and Cross but it’s hard to make up for D3 size. A few can do it but not too many. I plead ignorance on Parker and Barber Smith. I just haven’t seen enough to have a strong opinion. I will admit they at least have the size. Coach recruits for numbers. She never should have had 15 players this year. When you have as many players leave as last year you need to build that back up over two or three years. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring in 2 or 3 more freshman this year to add some more D1 players.

        I do agree the problem is always the coaching staff. If players are not good enough it’s because the coaching failed to recruit well. If good players don’t perform its because the coaches don’t remove the obstacles. A manufacturing plant never fails because of the hourly workforce. Its always the mgt. Basketball teams are no different.

        Like

  2. Carl Schierhorn

    Remember there are two walk-ones, counting Lacy Miller, who got a scholarship because there was an extra one.

    Like

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