Flashes play 3 good quarters and hold on to break 18-game road losing streak

Kent State was trying to get its first road victory in more than 17 months.

Ali Poole was trying to do well in her first college start.

Larissa Lurken was trying to keep her early-season scoring going.

And in the end, the Flashes were trying to hold on in the fourth quarter.

Mission accomplished, on all fronts.

Kent State ran to a 25-point lead against Wright State and beat the Raiders 79-69 in a victory that did a lot of things.

It broke an 18-game losing streak on the road that went back to February 2015. For the first time since 2010-11, it gave Flashes three victories in a row and took them over .500 in midseason.

Kent State is now 5-4. The Flashes won only six games all last season.

Wright State, which has won 20 games in four of the last five seasons, is now 4-3. It was only the third time in six seasons KSU has beaten a team with a winning record.

The Flashes led 66-41 going into the fourth quarter. Over the first 30 minutes, they had shot 61 percent from the field and 80 percent from three-point distance. They had held Wright State to 31 percent shooting and 2 of 15 three-pointers.

Wright State charged back with five steals and 18 points off of Kent State turnovers in the fourth quarter. The Raiders made 10 of 19 field goals and 3 of 5 three-pointers. Kent State went without scoring for more than five minutes at one point as it saw its lead shrink to five points with 40 seconds to play.

But three foul shots from Naddiyah Cross, an offensive rebound by Jordan Korinek on a missed free throw, and two foul shots by Lurken gave Kent State control of the end of the game.

“That’s a good Wright State team,” Kent State coach Todd Starkey said in his postgame interview on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. “They’re used to winning. They’re used to winning on this court.

“We knew coming down the stretch that they were going to come at us guns blazing. We got away from a couple of things we were doing well early and got a little bit tired.

“But I was really proud of the way we finished and that we made enough good plays. I’m happy to come away with a win.”

Poole started in place of Alexa Golden, who was out with a concussion. Poole, a 5-11 freshman from Carrollton, made all five of her three-point shots and scored 19 points while grabbing five rebounds in 37 minutes. That’s more points than either Lurken or Korinek scored in a game their freshman years.

In practice, Poole had been one of the best shooters on the team. This was clearly her best offensivegame. She had been making a third of her shots; Wednesday she made two-thirds. Her 5-for-5 from three-point distance took her percentage there from .192 to .322. “Proud of the way she shot with confidence,” Starkey said.

Poole had been playing starters’ minutes as one of the first players off of the best. Her first time in the lineup, she said, “the nerves were there, (but they were) more excited nerves than nervous nerves.

Lurken came into the game averaging 23.6 points a game — fourth best in the country. She scored 23 and had six rebounds and a steal. Her three-point play with two minutes to go was critical in slowing down Wright State’s fourth-quarter rally.

Korinek had her best offensive game of the season, scoring 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting and 3 of 3 foul shots. She did that in just 25 minutes. She picked up her second foul toward the end of the first quarter and sat out the rest of the half.

She and Starkey both said after the game how glad they were to get the road losing streak behind the team.

“They’re learning,” Starkey said. “They’re learning how to play on the road. They’re learning how to play in tight games. We didn’t handle all the pressure the way we should have, so we still have some room to grow.

“We have to be patient as coaches. I’m happy that we’re learning but also that we’re able to get some wins on the way.”

Notes:

  • Kent State’s final shooting percentage of 52.9 was its best of the season, as was its 66.7 percent from three-point distance (8 of 12). Wright State made 37 percent of its 64 shots and 5 of 20 three-pointers.
  • KSU outrebounded the Raiders 37-31, with Chelsi Watson leading the Flashes for the third straight game with seven. Merissa Barber-Smith had four rebounds off the bench in five minutes.
  • Cross had nine assists to two turnovers in 36 minutes to go with six points and a steal. Kent State had 15 assists on 27 baskets — 11 on 16 baskets in the first half.

The Flashes are home at 5 p.m. Saturday against Youngstown State in the first game of a doubleheader with the men’s team, which plays the New Jersey Institute of Technology. YSU is 3-5 on the year and lost to Akron at home in overtime 76-74 on Tuesday.

Wright State Box score

Game story from kentstatesports.com website.

Other MAC scores

Indiana-Purdue at Indianapolis (7-1) 65, Miami (2-6) 53 at Miami.

Bowling Green (4-5) 82, Division II Ohio Valley (3-4) 46

Game stories from MAC website

Tuesday

Western Michigan (6-2) 61, Fort Wayne (1-8) 35 at Western.

Purdue (6-4) 62, Central Michigan (6-3) 51 at Purdue.

Detroit Mercy (4-5) 77, Eastern Michigan (3-5) 64 at Eastern.

Akron (4-2) 76, Youngstown State (3-5) 74 in overtime at YSU.

Sunday

Buffalo (7-0) 74, Hofstra (4-3) 50 at Buffalo.

Ball State (5-2) 74, Butler (2-6) 50 at Butler.

Virginia (6-2) 67, Bowling Green (3-5) 47 at Bowling Green.

Toledo (6-1) 99, NAIA team Madonna (6-4) 47 at Toledo.

Saturday

Akron (3-2) 80, Winthrop (1-8) 59 at Winthrop.

Ohio (6-0) 64, Duquesne (4-5) 46 at Ohio.

Indiana State (4-4) 62, Miami (2-5) 54 at Miami.

Western Michigan (5-2) 65, Loyola of Chicago (0-7) 53 at Western.

Records are as of the game played.

MAC standings and some team statistics

Full MAC statistics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 comments

  1. Flashfanday1

    Wright State was so bad last night, how could they allow them back in the game! Said more about Kent then it did about Wright. The deep bench didnt allow them back in, but it was the starters and the rest of the 8 man rotation. One min Im convinced this team has something, and the next I’m not! Korinek is no longer option one and its really taken her out of the flow in my opinion. Her possessions have become more important now because shes not getting as many. Poole and Lurken shoot at will!

    I see that Salisbury is playing more and more with Carter behind Cross. Three interchangeable point guards that simply provide nothing but a safe spot to sit the ball in between passes with the exception of a few good assist from Cross at times. I believe some speed, attack, and scoring is needed at the point guard spot. Carter use to shoot more, but now nothing. I’d like to see this spot be a threat, its just whats really missing to me. We’re still missing good transition play from this team as well.

    This team looks good at times, but i feel like they’re just playing not to get beat, but always ready to be beat. They look better and bad at they same time.

    Until they start punishing teams, they are the bottom of the MAC and should be.

    i’m realizing i’m expecting too much from women’s basketball. Last night was Ugly, even when they looked their best! I’m still rooting for them but, just ugly!

    Like

    • Carl Schierhorn

      Punish the other team? I’m more than happy they’re just beating them. Remember this is a team that won 26 games total over the last five seasons. That’s barely five wins a year. They’ve already won five — all by 10 points or more.

      They did indeed look ugly for the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter at Wright State, and I thought Wright State missed a lot of open three-pointers in the first quarter when KSU built its lead. But KSU held them to 22 points in the first half, and that’s a good half against most anybody. They shot 61 percent through three quarters (53 for the game), which is hardly ugly. Wright State was 4-2 and played a good Georgetown team very respectably. They were picked fifth in the Horizon and have won 20 games four of the last five years. That was not a bad team Kent State beat, especially on the road.

      Korinek was so much option one last season that other teams packed the inside constantly. She had 21 points and 12 shots in 25 minutes Wednesday. She does anywhere near that for the rest of the season, and we should be very happy.

      Lurken is shooting at will, but she’s averaging 23 points a game and getting more free throws than anyone in the country. How can you argue with that? Poole was a shooter in high school and will be a shooter in college — probably too much in some earlier games. But she was shooting so well last night, how could you tell her to stop?

      Point guard is still a problem, at least as far as scoring is concerned. If Carter were playing more than six minutes a game, I think you’ll see her shoot more. Like Poole, it’s in her DNA. But Cross is running the offense well enough so I think she’s entrenched for now. The point guard they signed for next year is like Cross — a floor leader but not a scorer. They’re still recruiting a really good point guard from Toledo who decommitted from Michigan, but so are about 20 other teams. She’s a 20-point-per-game scorer.

      I don’t think this is a championship team. But it’s an awful lot better than what we’ve been seeing.

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  2. Flashfanday1

    I don’t disagree Carl, don’t get me wrong i’m happy to see them doing better, but I don’t like to grade on a curve. Curve being weak competition. Wright and Fort Wayne looked terrible, but I do understand your point of view. I dont care who they beat before Kent. I just think those game are yours to lose based on Kent’s talent. Wright looked like Kent over the last few years in that game. I still believe this team has the talent. Maybe not championship, but definitely not bottom of the MAC.

    I also have no problem with Lurken shooting at will, because she shoots and attacks the basket well balanced. I think Poole has a great shot and may be the aire to Lurken once her decision making improves, but that will come with experience. I don’t want to put a lid on her game either. She plays on instinct and i think the college system can sometimes cap great players by over controlling them. So I wouldn’t tell her to stop.

    Cross at this point is safe and i think her assist numbers would be consistent with any of the PGs on staff based on minutes played. No doubt I can see why she has the job, but I think the PG spot continues to be the Achilles heel to success. I wish Starkey would give a point guard the option to attack and score at will if any of them are capable of such. The faster and harder in transition the better, and I’d trade some turnovers for that. When your point guard is a scoring threat and attack dog (for lack of a better term) it changes everything.

    I always find myself watching the games, thinking I wish these guards would just shoot the ball or drive for a basket and potential foul a whoooole lot more. Lurken is having a career year so far, but if shes off its down hill. If Carter is a scorer why just six mins unless her turnover ratio is 3x that of Cross. 6 mins and how many shot attempts or free throws? Salisbury, So safe I could take a nap! I don’t like place holders and that’s what she’s turned into under O’banion and Starkey. She has to shoot and drive if she has it in her game. I have to believe she’s better than what they’ve boxed her into. She doesn’t have the speed but i have to believe she can shoot at minimum. Poor Parker, the only one of these PGs that hasn’t been giving a real chance. I’d like to write her off for good without wondering what type of game she really has before wondering about future or possible recruits! I suspect the issue with her is, shes probably the wild card. Coaches who puppeteer don’t like those types of players. However, its usually the player they need the most. I think you have to allow Improve and on the job learning, there’s so much of it in Men’s basketball. Its how the real great players shine!

    If Stevens and Golden are starters, Golden has to stop passing up her shot! Shes best when she doesn’t over think. Steven’s is 6’ft tall, why isn’t she shooting or going to the basket harder! Korinek and Bess also, get tough or the season won’t be great. I’d like to see them all act like Watson. Gritty!!

    P.S. When i say punish, i mean by the 3rd quarter of that Wright State game those kids should’ve been thinking about homework due tomorrow. Not Wright State!

    Like

    • goldenflash101

      If a MAC team has a point guard that attacks and scores a lot they probably will win a championship. There just aren’t too many of those at this level. In 25 years I’ve seen two at Kent. Zerman and Smith-Goldman. They came back to back and we were spoiled. Zerman was considered too small for the big time and Smith-Goldman was a Native American who slipped through the recruiting system. In other words we needed some luck to get them. Malika Willoughby wasn’t bad but she was really inconsistent. A solid point guard who doesn’t turn it over and who can score a three now and then will work in this league. Michelle Burden, steph Gibson made that happen. No championships but both came close more than once.

      Like

  3. goldenflash101

    Right now I am happy with their performance to date. Yes a better point guard would be nice but Dawn Zerman is about 35 years old so she isn’t coming back anytime soon. Cross can get to the basket but when’s she’s there she’s too easy to block without fouling. It would be a waste of time. Carter just doesn’t look like a starter to me. She reminds me of Zerman back up Maureen Zolik. Played solid but had none of the characteristics of a Zerman. Just a safe point guard for 6-8 minutes. I love to express my opinion too but I don’t think it makes much sense to question a coaches player selection. Yea maybe if he plays some one 20 minutes a game and then one game plays them 5 I scratch my head but if he says Cross is his best point guard he has to know better than me. This coach is so much better than our previous one it’s hard for me to criticize too much right now.

    We are ranked 9th in RPI in the MAC. That’s probably where our talent lies (I’m hoping a little higher but that depends on Lurken continuing at her pace and Poole developing). If you think of previous Kent players only Lurken and Korinek might be in the top five at their position. Nobody else is close. Think of our 2000 team. Zerman, Studer, Bader, Templin and Nance. All are probably top five. You can’t expect that much out of this team.

    Like

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