Not much went well for the Kent State women’s basketball team at Northern Illinois Wednesday.
The Flashes missed 58 of 83 shots. They missed 18 of 20 three-pointers.
Forward Jordan Korinek picked up her second foul after four minutes, which pretty much destroyed KSU’s game plan.
And in the third quarter, Northern showed how it has become the third highest scoring team in the nation, pounding Kent State on good shooting, fast breaks, and quick moves to the basket. The Huskies outscored KSU 37-21 in the quarter to break open a game that was fairly close at halftime.
Final score was 93-72.
The loss broke the Flashes’ three-game winning streak and brought their record to 10-10, 4-4 in the MAC. They remain tied with Buffalo for second place in the MAC Eastern Division. The Bulls lost to Ball State at Buffalo Wednesday, 89-75. Ohio leads the East with 6-2 league record.
Northern Illinois is 14-5 and 7-1 in the MAC. The Huskies are tied for first place in the MAC West with Ball State. Central Michigan, which was idle Wednesday, is a half game behind.
“It’s probably our worst performance of the year from start to finish,” coach Todd Starkey said in his postgame interview on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. “I don’t know how many layups we missed — uncontested layups. We missed open shots.
“We just got our butts kicked. They beat us at every phase of the game.”
Larissa Lurken had 24 points, two above her conference-leading average. But she was guarded closely and physically and made only 6 of 25 shots. She did make 10 of 11 free throws, had six rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals.
McKenna Stephens equaled a career high with 19 points on 9 of 13 shooting and, with Chelsi Watson, led KSU with seven rebounds.
Korinek, who had averaged 20 points a game through Kent’s first seven MAC games, had only 8 and played just 15 minutes. At its best, KSU’s offense runs through her in the post, and that never had a chance to happen Wednesday.
No other KSU player scored more than 5.
The Flashes trailed 20-19 after the first quarter and 36-30 at halftime. It was the pace KSU wanted to play; few teams can outscore Northern Illinois, which averages 88.6 points a game.
But the Huskies scored the first seven points of the second half. They were 3 of 6 shooting, scored off two offensive rebounds and just plain beat Kent State down the court on two fast-break baskets. Meanwhile, Kent State missed its first four shots, all layups.
Northern went on to outscore Kent 25-10 in the first six and a half minutes of the quarter. KSU outscored the Huskies 22-21 in the fourth quarter, but it was irrelevant by then. Both teams played reserves for the last five or six minutes.
“Northern Illinois is a team that if you don’t do a few things well, they’ll make you pay in a hurry,” Starkey said. “Especially in the third quarter, they just did it.
“Our players got demoralized and got down on themselves. They haven’t been that way in a while. We just kind of gave into it and didn’t fight back the way we had been.
“Things like this happen in the course of a long season. We’ve had a really rigorous road schedule in conference play, and maybe they’re a little bit tired.”
The Flashes’ last five games have been against teams with a combined record of 55-20. Three of the games were on the road, two of which were won by KSU.
Kent State now returns home for two games against two of the weakest teams in the conference. The Flashes host Bowling Green (5-15, 1-7 in the MAC) at 3 p.m. Saturday in the second game of a double header with the men’s team. Wednesday they play Miami (1-6, 7-13 in the MAC). BG lost in overtime at Eastern Michigan Wednesday, 81-74. It was the first conference win of the year for Eastern.
“The thing to remember is that this is one game,” Starkey said. “It’s what I’ve been saying when we’ve been winning — can’t get too high or too low. We can’t let one bad game turn into more than that.”
- The game was a long set of trips to the foul line. There were 27 fouls called on Kent State, 29 on Northern Illinois. In a bit of a rarity, the Flashes were outscored on foul shots. NIU was 27 of 37. KSU was 20 of 31.
- All of the fouls, plus the fact that both coaches played reserves at the end, meant more KSU reserves played than at any time in the conference season. Every player on the roster got in, and 10 KSU players were on the court more than 10 minutes. In the Flashes’ 70-60 win over Toledo on Sunday, only six players were over 10.
- Merissa Barber-Smith played just five minutes but had five rebounds (four offensive) and two blocked shots.
- Kent State had seven steals and forced 18 NIU turnovers. The Flashes equaled their season low with 13 turnovers. They outscored Northern 20-14 off turnovers.
- Northern Illinois outrebounded Kent State 57-51. The Flashes had a season-high 24 offensive rebounds. They had 19 second-chance points.
- Northern’s 37 points in the third quarter were a school record.
- Six Northern players scored in double figures, led by Mikayla Voight with 18. Cassidy Glenn, NIU’s leading scorer and the current MAC West player of the week, had only four. But she had 14 rebounds and did much of the defense on Lurken. Northern made 30 of 68 shots for 44 percent.
- Kent State had 15 more shots from the field than the Huskies but made five fewer.
The view from Northern
Coach Lisa Carlsen, from video on the Northern Illinois website:
“A little bit of an ugly first half – a lot of whistles, a lot of key kids in foul trouble. But we weathered the storm.
“We got back to pushing the pace in the third quarter and getting opportunities in transition and that’s when we’re at our best and when we’re going to make our push and our run.”
“Anytime you have an offensive-minded team and you get a couple of easy layups, you’re enjoying the pace and enjoying what we do.
“Any time we get like that, we’re a lot of handle.”
On Kent State’s Larissa Lurken
“She’s a great player. She had 24 points, and we feel that we did a really good job on her.
“Those were a tough 24 points – not many were wide open. We did a great job of not just keeping the ball out of her hands, but when she did have the ball of trying not to allow the driving lanes.”
Game story from the Kent State website.
Game story from the NIU website, including video highlights and full interview with coach.
Other MAC scores
Ball State (14-6, 7-1) 89, Buffalo (14-5, 4-4) 75 at Buffalo.
Ohio (15-4, 6-2) 80, Western Michigan (14-5, 5-3) 67 at Ohio.
Eastern Michigan (6-14, 1-7) 81, Bowling Green (5-15, 1-7) 74 in overtime at Eastern.
Only games scheduled.
Game stories from MAC website.