Flashes break 4-game losing streak and win first MAC game in a big way at Eastern Michigan, 86-67

double-double

GRAPHIC FROM KSU TWITTER FEED

This was the kind of basketball we hoped Kent State would play once the Mid-American Conference season started.

After double-digit losses to two of the league’s better teams, the Flashes Saturday beat Eastern Michigan 86-67 for their first MAC win under coach Todd Starkey.

“We felt like the last two games we had gotten away from the kind of team we were becoming,” Starkey said in his postgame radio interview on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. “We did a good job of being that team in this one.”

The win accomplished a lot of things:

  • It beat a team — on the road — that KSU had to beat in order to have a shot at a .500 season, something the Flashes haven’t had in six years. Eastern was one of three teams in the conference with a worse record that Kent State.
  • It saw three Kent State players have double-doubles — at least 10 points and 10 rebounds — for the first time I can remember in more than 25 years of following KSU women’s basketball. Larissa Lurken had 28 points and 10 rebounds, Jordan Korinek had 21 and 13 and McKenna Stephens had 15 and 11.
  • It was the most points Kent State has scored this season and the second most it has scored in any game since 2009. Only a 95-85 victory over Northern Illinois last season was better. The Flashes also had season highs in three-point baskets (9), rebounds (51) and assists (20). They equaled their season low in turnovers (13).
  • It broke an 11-game losing streak to Eastern Michigan, something especially important to Lurken. “Finally,” she said in here radio interview. “It was tough coming in here, knowing this was where the last two seasons ended” (in MAC Tournament first-round games).”

Kent State is now 7-8 on the season, 1-2 in MAC play. Eastern Michigan is 5-10 and 0-3.

Except for some struggles early in the third quarter, Kent State played well in about every facet of the game. It made almost  50 percent of its shots (and did make exactly 50 percent of its three-point shots). The Flashes outrebounded EMU 51-30 and had 17 offensive rebounds and 19-second chance points. They gave up only eight points off turnovers despite Eastern’s attempts to pressure them in the second half.

Korinek had her best game of the season. She avoided the foul trouble she’s struggled with, especially in the last four games. Her 21 points equaled her season best.  Her 13 rebounds were a season high and second best in her career. She blocked two shots for the first time this season.

“When we’ve played our best basketball this season, it hasn’t been when we were running plays for Larissa,” Starkey said. “It’s been when we were able to run an inside-out game through Jordan.”

“That was our game plan,” Lurken said. “I hope we do it every game.”

Lurken herself had another good game in a great season. It was the 10th time this season she’s scored more than 20 points and the fifth time she’s scored more than 25. She continues to average more points (22.2) than anyone else in the MAC and more than any Kent State player ever has for a full season. Her 10 rebounds were the fourth time this season she’s been in double digits. She also had three assists and a block Saturday. At 5-9, she’s tied for sixth in the MAC at 1.0 blocks per game.

Stephens too had one of her best games of the season. She had been struggling with an ankle injury and didn’t play well in the first minutes of Saaturday’s game. Starkey pulled her out.

“I’m not quite sure what happened on the bench, but she came back like she was possessed,” the coach said. It was her second double-double of the season, and her 11 rebounds was a career high.

Point guard Naddiyah Cross and Megan Carter each had assists. Carter, playing not too far from her home in suburban Detroit, also had seven points, including a running three-pointer at the buzzer at the end  of the first quarter.

“This is a huge shot in the arm for us,” Starkey said in one of his most enthusiastic expressions of the season. “We need the momentum going into our next games.”

KSU returns home Wednesday to play 10-4 Northern Illinois, which is the second highest scoring team in the country. Northern won its biggest game in many years when it beat defending MAC champion Ohio in Dekalb, 88-80, on Saturday.

Notes:

  • Lurken’s six three-pointers and three-point percentage (75) were her best of the season. Her career best is eight and 77 percent, both against Northern Illinois last season.
  • Eastern had four players in double figures, led by Sasha Dailey and Phyllis Webb with 18.
  • The margin of victory was the most for Kent State in MAC play since it beat Western Michigan 69-39 in February 2009.

Box score

Other MAC scores

Toledo (12-3, 2-1) 64, Miami (6-9, 0-3) 50 at Toledo.

Central Michigan (11-4, 3-0) 88, Buffalo (11-3, 1-2) 71 at Central.

Bowling Green (5-10, 1-2) 62, Akron (7-7, 0-3) 58 at Akron.

Northern Illinois (10-4, 3-0) 88, Ohio (11-3, 2-1) 80 at Northern Illinois.

Ball State (10-5, 3-0) 61, Western Michigan (11-3, 2-1) 56 at Ball State (9-5, 2-0).

MAC standings

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