It’s not completely clear to me whether it was Ball State’s defense or Kent State’s offense.
But it was certainly lack of points that beat the Flashes on the road Wednesday, 71-47.
Kent State now is 6-8 on the season and 0-2 in the MAC. Ball State is 9-5 and 2-0.
The Flashes made only four field goals in the second half out of 33 shots — 12 percent. For they game they hit a season-low 25.4 percent.
Larissa Lurken had 18 points for Kent State, but she was 6 of 19 shooting. The rest of her game was excellent at 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a season-high 5 steals. Jordan Korinek had 12 points but spent most of the night in foul trouble and played just 21 minutes. Ali Poole had 9 points off the bench.
Starters McKenna Stephens and Alexa Golden — both of whom had scored in double figures two of the last three games — had zero points. Point guard Naddiyah Cross had 1. Stephens had 4 shots, Golden 2 and Cross 3.
“We have to have others step up,” coach Todd Starkey said in his postgame interview on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. “Everybody in the league knows that Larissa is a scorer.”
Korinek had 9 points in the first quarter but picked up her second foul three minutes into the second quarter.
“Our whole team dynamic changes when Jordan gets in foul trouble,” Starkey said, echoing a comment we heard last year from former coach Danny O’Bannion. Starkey’s offense moves Korinek around more instead of planting her in the post, but it hasn’t seem to have helped a great deal. She’s still had at least four fouls in five games, including fouling out of two.
Kent State took a 9-4 lead Wednesday but fell behind by 29-21 after the first quarter when Ball State’s Moriah Monaco hit four of five three-point shots.
The Flashes cut the lead to three points at halftime by holding BSU to seven points on 4 of 22 shooting in the second quarter. But in the middle of the third quarter, Ball State went on a 20-2 run to put the game away.
After Kent State’s shooting, the other big statistic of the game of Ball State’s 51-43 rebounding advantage and 22 offensive rebounds. The Cardinals had 19 second-chance points.
KSU had 19 offensive rebounds but only six second-chance points.
“We can’t beat a team if we can’t block out on rebounds,” Starkey said, “and we have to score when we get extra chances.”
Ball State is one of the biggest teams in the MAC, with two 6-5 players, and has an average +5.5 rebounding margin. But the Cardinals average just 12 offensive rebounds a game, 11th in the conference.
Ball State is second in the league in field goal defense, so the Cardinals did indeed contribute to Kent State’s scoring 20 below its average. But the Cardinals themselves shot 14 percentage points below their 44.8 percent average Tuesday.
- Golden had a season-best four steals. Overall KSU had 11 steals. Kent State had 20 turnovers, Ball State 16. The Cardinals led in scoring off turnovers, 19-13.
- Stephens led the Flashes with six rebounds.
- Merissa Barber-Smith scored her first basket of the season on an offensive rebound. The tallest player on Kent State’s team at 6-4, she had four rebounds and a block in 11 minutes.
- Monaco led Ball State with 24 points. 6-5 Renee Bennett had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks.
- Ball State was picked to tie for second in the MAC West. Kent State beat the Cardinals 59-50 in Kent last year in perhaps the Flashes’ best game of the season.
- KSU hasn’t won at Ball State since 1997.
Kent State plays its second straight road game Saturday at Eastern Michigan. The Eagles (5-9, 0-2 in the MAC) lost at home to Toledo (10-3, 1-1) Wednesday.
Other Wednesday MAC scores
- Ohio (11-2, 2-0) 83, Buffalo (11-2, 1-1) 55 at Ohio.
- Central Michigan (10-4, 2-0) 89, Akron (7-6, 0-2) 62 at Central.
- Northern Illinois (7-4, 2-0) 89, Bowling Green (4-10, 0-2) 76 at BG.
- Western Michigan (11-2, 2-0) 85, Miami ((6-8, 0-2) 60 at Miami.