Strong second-half defense carries Kent State past Miami, 84-66, and past Buffalo in MAC standings

Kent State led Miami 42-39 at halftime, but coach Todd Starkey was not happy.

Miami had made 57 percent of its shots in the first half.

“Coach really got on us,” junior forward Jordan Korinek said after the game on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. “And we started executing.”

The Flashes held Miami to 9 points and 29 percent shooting in the third quarter and went on to an 84-66 victory. Combined with Buffalo’s 85-63 loss Wednesday at Toledo, the win moves Kent State into sole possession of second place in the MAC East. The Flashes play at Buffalo Saturday.

KSU is now 12-10 on the season and 6-4 in the MAC. Miami is 7-15 and 1-8.

Starkey said the team was tired after an extended stretch of tough games without a homestand.

“So we made practice a little lighter in tone and in what we did in practice,” the coach said. “But we talked about defense. And then in the first half, we didn’t play passionate defense.

“So I kindly reminded them at halftime that unless they started doing something about that, they were probably going to have more difficult practices coming forward.

“They’re going to hear that when I talk into the locker room (after his interview): ‘When you play that way, we’re pretty good. And when you don’t, you can get beat by anybody.”

Korinek had 21 points and 12 rebounds for her third double-double of the season, all in conference play. Larissa Lurken scored 30 points, had 6 assists, 6 rebounds, a block and a steal. She was 12 of 12 in foul shooting, the fourth time this season she’s been perfect at the foul line and th 10th time she’s made more than 10 foul shots. Lurken leads the nation in free throws made and taken.

Kent’s 84 points and 18 assists were both its third highest of the season. Its 45 percent shooting was 7 points above its season average.

“It’s a really good sign when Larissa had six assists,” Starkey said. “Our offense is doing pretty well.”

Starkey made it a point to try to get Lurken more rest. She had been averaging the most minutes of any MAC player in conference games.

“It was starting to show,” he said “She was averaging 38 minutes. Defensively her effort wasn’t as good at the end of the second quarter and at the end of the game. She was missing some shots.

“So we’re trying to find strategic points in the game where we can get her more rest.”

Starkey pulled Lurken out just before other breaks in the action. “We can use the media timeout or the end of the quarter to get her some extended rest and get her back in,” he said.

For the game, Lurken played 33 minutes. 

Kent State’s 6-4 conference record is the fifth best in the conference. Ohio, which lost  64-59 at Central Michigan Wednesday, is a game ahead of the Flashes in the East.

“It’s great to be in this position,” Starkey said. “We wanted to be playing games of significance in February and be a team that nobody wanted to face in the tournament in March. And we’re on that path.

“Can we get better? Absolutely. We still have yet to play 40 great minutes of basketball. We’re just interested in us becoming a better version of ourselves. There’s still room for improvement.”

Notes

  • Kent State outrebounded Miami 41-26 and 13-6 on the offensive board. The Flashes outscored Miami 15-0 on second-chance points.
  • Alexa Golden, who missed Saturday’s game against Bowling Green with a minor injury, started and played 31 minutes. She scored 5 points, had 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
  • KSU committed 19 turnovers, Miami 21. The Flashes led in points off turnovers 18-16.
  • It was the fifth time this season Lurken has scored more than 30 points. KSU’s record book isn’t that detailed, but I don’t remember either Amy Sherry or Tracy Lynn — the top scorers of the Bob Lindsay era — doing that. Bonnie Beachy, Kent’s all-time leading scorer, was well before my time.
  • Miami freshman Lauren Dickerson had 14 points, 8 assists and 4 steals. Though she’s only 5-3, she’s a legitimate candidate for freshman of the year in the conference. Another Miami freshman, 6-2 forward Savannah Kluesner, led the Redhawks with 15.
  • All 13 active players on the KSU roster got in the game.

Box score

Game story from Kent State website, including video highlights and interview with Korinek and Starkey.

Game story from Miami website.

 

Other MAC scores

Central Michigan (15-6, 7-2) 64, Ohio (16-5, 7-2) 59 at Central.

Toledo (14-6, 5-4) 85, Buffalo (15-6, 5-5) 63 at Toledo.

Ball State (16-7, 8-2) 90, Akron (9-11, 2-7) 63 at Akron.

Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan didn’t play.

MAC standings

Game stories from MAC website

 

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