Seconds after Jordan Korinek was presented with a blue-and-white basketball commemorating her 1,000th point, the junior KSU forward ran into the stands and handed the ball to her mother, who attends every game with her father.
Then Korinek went on the court and equaled her career high with 28 points to lead Kent State to an 83-65 victory over Eastern Michigan.
It was the most points Korinek has scored in an outstanding conference season for the Flashes, who moved past idle Buffalo into fifth place overall in the MAC standings at 7-5. KSU is 13-11 overall. Buffalo is 6-5.
Eastern is 1-10 in the MAC (6-17 overall) and last the conference.
Korinek had scored the 1,000th point of her career in Kent State’s 77-62 loss to Buffalo Saturday. She now has 1,039, 20th highest in KSU history. And she’s likely to play about 40 more games in a Kent State uniform over the rest of this season and next.
“Jordan is certainly one of the top five players in the conference in the conference season,” coach Todd Starkey said after the game. “She’s been playing very well.”
Korinek was fifth in the league in scoring in MAC games (19 ppg) going into Wednesday. The EMU game was the seventh time she’s scored more than 21 points in KSU’s 12 conference games. She’s also 12th in the league in rebounding at 7.2 per game. She had 10 Wednesday for her fourth double-double of the season, all in conference play.
Add to that the sixth best shooting percentage in the conference at 52.4 (she was even better at 12 of 18 against EMU) and the eighth best percentage in foul shooting at 83.4 (she was 3 of 3 Wednesday).
Korinek was averaging 11 points a game after the non-conference season, four below her average from last season. A preseason all-MAC East selection, she had struggled finding her place in the new offensive system Starkey put in place when he became head coach.
“Different players adjust at different rates,” Starkey said. “In the offense they ran last year, she sort of hung around the lane. We’ve asked her to move and screen and get the ball in different ways.”
One way was to shoot the ball from the outside. Korinek nailed her only three-point shot Wednesday and hit another from just inside the line.
“Coach has been telling me to look for my outside shot,” Korinek said on the postgame show on Golden Flash iHeart Radio.
“Other teams will see that and put it on the scouting report, and it will open things up more for everyone inside,” Starkey said.
Kent State went to Korinek from the beginning of Wednesday’s game. The Flashes had 23 assists on 30 baskets , many of then on passes inside to Korinek. Then when Eastern started to double team Korinek in the second half, she picked up two assists passing the ball to other scorers.
Larissa Lurken, the MAC’s leading scorer, still got her 22 points. But she also had a career-high eight assists.
“If she shares the ball like that,” Starkey said, “it makes her a more complete player and a better player.”
Lurken’s stat line was spectacular: 8 of 18 on field goals (6 of 8 in the second half), 3 of 6 three-pointers, 3 of 4 foul shots, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 0 turnovers, 2 blocks and 3 steals.
The number of foul shots made and attempted were her lowest since KSU’s game against Baylor in November. Lurken still leads Division I in free throws made and attempted. In second place for free throws made was Kelsey Plum of Washington, the nation’s leading scorer, who was 44 behind Lurken before this week’s games.
Eighteen of her 22 points came in the second half. In one way, that made Starkey happy, too.
“She didn’t press when she scored only four in the first half,” the coach said. “She let the game come to her and took what she was given.”
McKenna Stephens had 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting and 7 rebounds.
“When Jordan and Larissa are going, and McKenna or Megan (Carter) is scoring, we can be hard to beat,” Starkey said.
Carter, a redshirt freshman, played 23 minutes and had 4 points and 4 assists. She’s become the first player off the bench for the Flashes and has played shooting guard as well as sharing the point with Naddiyah Cross.
Starkey was highly critical of his defense in Saturday’s loss. He was happier Wednesday. “We played with more intensity and focus, especially after the first quarter,” he said.
- Kent State made 50 percent of its shots — 30 of 60 — and 60.7 percent of its shots in the second half. That’s highest of the conference season and second highest of the year. Best was 52.7 percent at Wright State.
- The Flashes hit 8 of 14 three-point shots, again second highest of the season after Wright State. Stephens made 3 of 4 three-pointers.
- KSU was 15 of 17 on free throws, its third highest percentage of the year. Seventeen foul shots, though, were KSU’s third lowest number of the season and lowest since they played Iowa in December. KSU had been leading the nation in free throws made and was third in free throws attempted.
- Eastern made 37.7 percent of its shots and 40 percent of its three-pointers. The overall shooting percentage is 5 points lower than Kent’s defensive average. EMU’s 65 points ties for the second lowest allowed by the Flashes in conference play.
- The Flashes’ 23 assists were their most of the season. They had assists on 76.7 of their baskets, also a season high.
- Eastern Michigan had 16 turnovers, and Kent scored 18 point off of them. The Eagles scored 15 off 16 KSU turnovers.
- EMU’s Phyllis Webb scored her 1,000th career point and got her 700th career rebound in the game. She led the Eagles with 21 points.
- All 13 active KSU players got in the game.
The Flashes head to Akron Saturday for their first game of the season against the Zips. Akron is having its worst season in years, sitting in a tie for 10th in the MAC with a 2-9 record (9-13 overall). The Zips lost at Miami, 54-49, Wednesday. Saturday’s game starts at 2 p.m. in the James A. Rhodes Arena.
Game story from KSU website, including video highlights and interviews with Korinek and Starkey.
Game story from Eastern website. I don’t find quotes for EMU coach anywhere online.
Other MAC scores
Ball State (17-7, 10-2) took over first place in the MAC West with a 91-70 victory over Bowling Green at home.
Northern Illinois fell into a tie for second with Central Michigan when CMU beat the Huskies in DeKalb, 109-94. Both teams are 9-2 in the conference. CMU is 17-6 overall, Northern 16-6.
It was Toledo (15-7, 6-5) 72, Western Michigan (14-8, 5-6) 66 at Western.
Ohio, which had Wednesday off, leads the East at 8-3, a game and a half ahead of KSU. OU is 17-5 overall.
Game stories from MAC website.