Central Michigan was the preseason favorite to win the Mid-American Conference and played one of its best games of the year.
Presley Hudson was MAC freshman of the year last season and a preseason all-MAC West selection. She probably played the best game of her career.
All that was too much to overcome as Kent State lost its conference season opener to the Chippewas, 91-78.
“There are certainly things we could have done better, but Central Michigan was picked first in the conference for a reason,” Kent State coach Todd Starkey said. “They have really good personnel. They capitalized on our mistakes, and that’s what good teams do. When we made a mistake, they scored. When they did, we didn’t.”
“That,” he said, “and Presley shot the lights out.”
Presley had about as good a game as a point guard can have. She made 8 of 11 three-point shots, at least four of them from at least 26 or 27 feet. She was 13 of 19 shooting overall, had six steals, five assists and two blocks (though she’s all of 5-foot-6). Her points, three-pointers and steals all were career highs. She played all 40 minutes.
Her scoring tied for the third most points in CMU history.
KSU’s Larissa Lurken — preseason scoring leader in the MAC — had 29 points but didn’t shoot nearly as well as Hudson. She was 8 for 23 and 3 for 10 on three-pointers. She led a hard-driving Kent offense that forced fouls constantly on Central. All four Chippewa starters finished with four fouls.
Jordan Korinek had 18 for Kent State. McKenna Stephens had 10 points on 4 for 5 shooting, including two three-point baskets, along with a team-leading eight rebounds. Megan Carter also had 10 points.
Central Michigan’s 91 points was 19 more than its season average. Its 52 percent three-point shooting was a season high. Three nights ago the Chippewas scored 69 in a loss at 5-6 Middle Tennessee State. Presley had 10 points and one three-pointer.
Central is now 9-4 on the season. Kent State is 6-7.
Kent State took a 10-8 lead in the first quarter until Presley hit four three-point baskets.
The Chippewas built the lead to 31-19 in the second quarter, when Starkey called a timeout. Then the Flashes played 13 of their best minutes of the season.
They outscored Central 24-12 over the rest of the second quarter and the first six minutes of the third and tied the game 43-43 on a three-pointer by Lurken.
But Central called a timeout, then went on a 19-5 run. Kent State never got the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter.
“We got hit pretty hard in the first quarter,” Starkey said. “But we kept fighting, and I’m pleased about that. We played well at times, and lost our head sometimes.”
- Central outrebounded Kent State 40-31, including 16 offensive rebounds. The Chippewas outscored KSU 18-10 on second-chance points and 42-22 in the paint. Unlike the three-guard offense most teams use, Central starts three forwards who go 6-2, 6-1 and 6-foot, and the 6-footer leads the MAC in rebounding.
- Central had three players in double figures. Tinara Moore, another preseason all-MAC West player, had 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Casssie Bereen had 17, including three three-pointers. She leads the MAC in that category.
- KSU’s Carter had four assists to go with 4 of 7 shooting and 10 points. She also played good defense on Hudson, especially in the second quarter. “That’s her second solid game in a row,” Starkey said. Carter had 13 points and six assists at Minnesota. “Remember she hasn’t played that much college basketball,” the coach said. Carter was injured in the third game of last season and redshirted. She played 10 minutes or less in nine of KSU’s 12 preseason games.
- Stephens’ 10 points was her second straight game in double figures. Her eight rebounds were her second best of the season. “We’ve been harping on her about that,” Starkey said.
- Overall CMU was 12 of 23 from three-point distance. Kent State was 8 of 18, which equalled its most three-pointers of the season.
- KSU had 16 turnovers, and Central scored 19 points off of them. Central had 14, which led to 17 Kent State points.
- Kent’s 78 points were its second highest of the season (80 against Eastern Kentucky was most) and second highest in MAC play in six years. The 91 points allowed were second highest of the season. (Minnesota had 92.)
- A major part of Kent’s game plan every time is to force its opponent into foul trouble. That worked very well Saturday. Five Central players had two fouls in the first half, and two starters had four by the middle of the third quarter. But CMU got good minutes — if not many points — from the three reserves who played.
From Central coach Sue Guevara via the CMU website:
“It was nice to see that we could withstand the attacking that Kent State did with Reyna Frost with four fouls, Jewel Cotton with four fouls, Cassie Breen with four fouls.”
“Coming out of halftime they just punched us in the mouth. They just went after us, but I thought we responded very well by going after them.
Guevara on Presley:
“I thought she was much more aggressive shooting the basketball, and I think she even passed up three or four shots. She had a couple layups today, she had a couple of floaters. She has a lot of weapons in her arsenal.”
Kent State next heads on the road for two games, playing at 8-5 Ball State Wednesday. Ball State upset Toledo at Toledo Saturday, 51-45. Toledo had been 9-2.
Game story from KSU website, including video highlights and interview with Starkey.
Other MAC scores
Ohio (10-2) 69, Bowling Green (4-9) 58, at Bowling Green.
Western Michigan (10-2) 73, Akron (7-5) 60 at Western.
Northern Illinois (8-4) 85, Eastern Michigan (5-8) 73 at Eastern.
Buffalo (10-1) 71, Miami (6-8) 45 at Buffalo
MAC standings and some team statistics.