The score certainly wasn’t unexpected; in fact, it was closer than we might have thought.
It was No. 5 Baylor 84, Kent State 42, in the first game of the Gulf Coast Showcase. The Flashes came the closest any non-ranked team had come to the Bears in their first five games and at least as close as eight teams did last season, when Baylor was 36-2. The previous two teams Baylor played this season didn’t score 40 while the Bears scored more than 100.
The Flashes scored only 10 more points against Detroit Mercy in Monday’s 73-52 loss.
It also wasn’t unexpected that Larissa Lurken scored the 1,000th point of her career; she had 997 going into the game. But when Lurken accepted her scholarship offer from the Flashes four years ago, she couldn’t have predicted she’d score her 1,000th against the best team she would ever play.
Lurken had 15 points, bouncing back from a five-point game against Detroit Mercy. Her 1,000th came on a three-point shot less than two minutes into the game and gave the Flashes a 5-2 lead.
On the other end of the KSU bench, senior Lacey Miller scored the first basket of her career and blocked her first shot against the No. 5 team in the country.
“These are the things these kids are going to remember for the rest of their lives,” Kent coach Todd Starkey said in his post game radio show. “It’s a great opportunity — to compete against a nationally ranked program that’s won national championships, to score your 1000th point or your first point or get aa rebound or even be on the court with them.”
“I was proud of the way our players played. They fought from start to finish. We played with focus and intensity.”
The Bears are one of the tallest teams in the nation, and their three tallest players — 6-7 Kalami Brown, 6-4 Beatrice Mompremier and 6-4 Lauren Cox combined for 47 points on 19 of 25 shooting. They had 19 rebounds among them. Baylor outrebounded KSU 49-23, had 22 second-chance points to the Flashes’ four and outscored Kent in the paint 50-14.
KSU did hold Baylor all-American Nina Davis to three points, though she played only 15 minutes.
After Kent State’s 5-2 early lead, Baylor scored 12 straight points and outscored the Flashes 30-15 in the second quarter. The teams each scored 13 in the third quarter, and Baylor hold 24 to KSU’s 6 in the fourth. The Bears never really let up; they were working on their full-court press with seven minutes to go in the game.
Point guards Naddiyah Cross and Megan Carter each had six points for Kent State. Cross also had four assists and three rebounds. Zenobia Bess and Merissa Barber-Smith also had three rebounds.
Kent State is 2-3 on the season. Baylor is 5-1 with its only loss coming to No.1 Connecticut.
- Lurken is the 20th player in KSU history to score 1,000 points. Most recent was Jamilah Humes, who graduated in 2011.
- All 15 Kent State players got into the game. Only Cross, Lurken and McKenna Stephens played more than 20 minutes.
- Miller, who scored her first basket in the game’s last two minutes, walked on to the team her sophomore year and earned a scholarship last season. Friday was just the fifth game she’s played in.
- Kent State had 20 turnovers, which led to 23 Baylor points. Baylor had 13 turnovers. KSU scored six points off of them.
- If Baylor has a weakness, it’s foul shooting. The Bears were 8 of 15. Going into the game, they were averaging just 66 percent.
Kent State plays again at 11 a.m. Saturday against Weatern Kentucky, which lost its first-round game to No. 18 DePaul, 77-69. Western Kentucky is 2-2 and is favored to win the Conference USA championship. The Hilltoppers were 27-7 last season.
To follow Saturday’s Western Kentucky game:
Video starts at 11 on the tournament YouTube channel at https://m.youtube.com/bdglobalsportsnetwork.
Audio pregame starts at 10:45 on 640 AM WHLO and Golden Flash iHeart Radio at http://www.iheart.com/live/golden-flashes-radio-6068/.
Live statistics are at http://www.statbroadcast.com/events/tournament.php?tid=438.
Live Twitter feed is @kentstatewbb.