It’s been six years since a lot of good things for Kent State’s women’s basketball team:
Six years since a winning season. Six years since more than seven wins. Six years since even getting to Cleveland for the second round of the MAC tournament.
Six years since the Flashes had a better record than Akron.
KSU takes a 4 1/2-game lead over the Zips in the MAC standings with it when it visits Akron this weekend, the first of two meetings between the teams this season.
The game is at 2 p.m. at the James A. Rhodes Arena. Here are directions if you’re interested in going.
Akron is 9-13 on the season, 2-9 in the conference. Kent State is 13-11, 7-5 in the MAC.
The last time Akron didn’t have a winning record was 2010-11, when it was 14-16. Kent was 20-10 that season. That was the last time KSU had a winning record.
Since then, KSU has beaten Akron once — 77-76 in Kent in February 2012. Since then, it’s been eight straight losses. No player on Akron’s team has ever lost to Kent State. KSU senior Larissa Lurken has never beaten Akron.
Akron went 11-7 in the MAC last season (19-14 overall), finishing a distant second in the MAC East to Ohio. The Zips lost three starters to graduation but were still picked third in the division this season.
But while things jelled for KSU this season, they never have for Akron. The Zips went 5-4 in the non-conference season but didn’t beat a team with close to a winning record. In the MAC they’ve beaten 1-10 Eastern Michigan and — in the biggest upset of the MAC season — beat Northern Illinois by 29 points at Northern Illinois. At that time, NIU hadn’t lost a MAC game; Akron hadn’t won one.
It’s hard to tell from looking at Akron’s results just what hasn’t worked this season. It looks as if Akron’s underclassmen don’t seem to have developed enough.
Senior guard Hannah Plybon, a preseason all-MAC East selection, has performed as expected. She’s averaging 17 points a game (14.4 in conference play, probably a better measure at this time of year). Plybon set a school record with 104 three-point baskets last season and has 61 so far this season. She’s making just 28 percent of her three-pointers in conference play, though. Plybon also averages 5 rebounds per game.
Senior Alex Ricketts, a reserve last season, is the only other Akron player to average in double figures at 10.7 points per game. Sophomore Megan Sefcik averages 9.7, mostly off the bench.
All three are guards. Akron’s tallest players who have seen significant action are three 6-1 forwards, led by junior Greta Burry, who averages 6.1 points and 5.4 rebounds.
Kent State’s 6-2 Jordan Korinek, who is from Akron St. Vincent St. Mary’s High School and was also recruited hard by Akron, played well against the Zips as a freshman and sophomore, averaging 14.5 points a game. This season Korinek is averaging 19 points a game in MAC play. Look for the Flashes to try to go inside to her.
Akron has never seen Larissa Lurken play as she’s done this year (of course, no one else has, either). Lurken scored 35 in two games against the Zips last season, but she has never had more than six foul shots against the Zips. She’s averaging 10 attempts a game this season (making about 85 percent) and leads the nation in free throws made and attempted.
The game is part of the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge, the multisport competition between the two schools. Kent State won the challenge (with a different sponsor’s name) in its first four seasons but lost by a point last year and trails so far this season 3.5-1.5. In sports like basketball and volleyball, where the teams meet twice, each win is worth half a point.
Akron tends to rack up points in cross country and track (6 of its 7.5 points last year), so a game like this is significant in the competition.
If you can’t go to the game
- Online video starts at 2:02 p.m. on ESPN3. You’ll need a satellite or cable ESPN subscription to be able to see the game.
- Audio starts at at about 1:45 on Golden Flash iHeart radio and 640 AM WHLO.
- Live statistics can be followed though the Akron website.
- In-game updates on Twitter are at @KentStatwbb.
Game preview on the KSU website.
Kent State statistics, with links to roster and schedule/results.
Game preview from the Akron website, with links to roster, schedule/results and statistics.
MAC statistics and standings, with links both to overall and conference-only stats.