Coming off a heady 25-point victory in its season opener, Kent State’s women’s basketball team will have a much tougher test against Eastern Kentucky Monday.
The game starts at 7 p.m. in the MAC Center.
KSU’s victory came by its biggest margin in six years. The Flashes dominated every statistical category and never were threatened after the first few moments of the second quarter.
But Bradley was 9-22 last season (though it did beat the Flashes 68-60). They were picked seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Braves’ leading scorer averaged 9.5 points per game.
Eastern Kentucky was 18-12 last season. The team is picked third in the Ohio Valley Conference. Its leading scorer averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds last season and is her league’s preseason player of the year.
The Colonels beat MAC foe B0wling Green 57-55 Friday at home. BG was picked fifth in the MAC East in the coaches’ preseason poll (KSU was picked sixth) and beat the Flashes twice last season.
To win, the first player Kent State needs to slow down is Jalen O’Bannon, a 6-1 senior forward who had 15 double-doubles last season and was a first-team all conference selection. She had 13 points and 10 rebounds against Bowling Green. O’Bannon is a transfer from Arkansas State, where, as a sophomore, she led a team that went to the WNIT in rebounding.
To counter her, Kent State will need a much better game out of its top post player, Jordan Korinek. Korinek, Kent State’s leading scorer a year ago at 15.5 points a game, had 7 points and 3 rebounds against Bradley. In only one game last year — actually against Bradley — did Korinek score fewer points (6). (She also had four rebounds and four fouls in that game.) Korinek only had fewer than 10 points three times in 29 games. In a scrimmage last weekend against Cleveland State, she had 24 points and 13 rebounds.
She picked three what I would call minor fouls in the third quarter and sat out a big chunk of the second half. Korinek struggled with foul trouble much of last year, fouling out of five games and having four fouls in 13 others. A significant number of those fouls were offensive as KSU played an offense based on getting Korinek the ball in the post. None of her fouls Friday were on offensive. New coach Todd Starkey’s offense moves Korinek around more; the 6-2 forward made one of two three-point shots Friday; she took only 20 all last season, making five.
Starkey said Korinek’s foul trouble is “something that we’re going to have to get solved, because she’s such a talented offensive post player.”
“Obviously their game plan was to take her away,” the coach told the Record-Courier after the game. “They double-teamed her early, and she got a little frustrated.”
The second person the Flashes need to slow down is 5-11 redshirt senior guard Shavantae Naylor, who had 15 points and 12 rebounds against BG. Naylor is a transfer from the University of South Florida who sat out last season because of NCAA rules.
Despite the O’Bannon-Naylor rebounds (and 12 more from 5-5 point guard Mariah Massengill) Eastern Kentucky was outrebounded by Bowling Green, 47-40.
KSU outrebounded Bradley 46-38 with two players having six rebounds and four more having five.
Eastern Kentucky is not a big team — O’Bannon is the only player taller than 5-11 of the six Colonels who played more than nine minutes against BG.
Eastern shot just 36 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point distance against Bowling Green, about 5 percentage points lower in both categories than its 2015-16 statistics. The Colonels held BG to 32 percent shooting, 27 percent in the second half, when they went on a 20-3 run to overcome a nine-point BG lead.
Kent State’s aggressive man-to-man defense — something Starkey has emphasized hard in practice — looked very good at times Friday. The Flashes held Bradley to 31 percent shooting and 3 of 17 three-point shots. That was about 5 percentage points below the Braves’ shooting last season.
Here’s the preview from the KSU Sports website, which includes links to KSU statistics, roster, schedule and more.
Here’s the preview from the Eastern Kentucky site, which includes the same kind of links.
If you can’t go
- Video stream starts at 7 p.m. at kentstatesports.com/watch.
- Audio at about 6:45 on Golden Flash iHeart radio at http://www.iheart.com/live/golden-flashes-radio-6068/ and 640 AM WHLO.
- Live stats at sidearmstats.com/kent/wbball.
- In-game updates on Twitter at @KentStatwbb. .
MAC women’s scores from Saturday
Akron 63, Malone 52 at Akron
Eastern Michigan 69, Georgia State 59 at Eastern
Toledo 76, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi 60 at Corpus Christi
Link to MAC webpage with stories on each game.
MAC scores from Sunday
Morehead State 78, Eastern Michigan 73 at Morehead State
Ohio 76, High Point 48 at Ohio
Western Michigan 76, Davidson 63 at Western
Link to stories on Sunday’s games.
An earlier version of the preview said in a few places that it was Miami that lost Eastern Kentucky. It was Bowling Green. A bit of a brain freeze on my part.