There was 2:04 to go in the second quarter, and Bowling Green had just gotten two offensive rebounds — its 10th and 11th of the game — and scored to take a 29-25 lead.
Kent State coach Todd Starkey called timeout. When the team got to the huddle, he slammed his clipboard to the floor in front of them.
And for at least the fourth time in the game, he told his first-place team that they were unlikely to stay there with that kind of rebounding.
“Something needed to happen to get them awake,” Starkey said in his postgame radio interview on WHLO and iHeart Radio. “There are lots of ways to motivate people, and they needed to be motivated.”
In two previous timeouts and at the end of the first quarter, Starkey said, “I tried jumping on them, I tried talking calmly, I tried writing, ‘BOX OUT’ in big letters on the clipboard. And it wasn’t getting through.
“And I haven’t done anything like that all season, and I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll toss the clipboard on the ground and make a loud noise and scare them into attention.'”
From that point on, Kent State outrebounded the Falcons 22-19 and outscored them 45-31.
The result was a 70-60 victory at Bowling Green. With an Ohio loss at Buffalo, Kent State is alone in first place in the MAC East and winning the fight for the fourth seed — and first-round bye — in next month’s MAC tournament.
KSU is now 16-11 on the season and guaranteed its first winning season since 2010-11. The Flashes are 10-5 in the MAC. Bowling Green is 3-12 in the MAC and 7-20 overall.
BG outrebounded Kent State 29-17 in the first half, with 13 offensive rebounds. The Falcons were averaging 14 offensive rebounds a game.
“In the second half, we did a much better job of crashing the offensive and defensive glass, and ultimately that’s probably why we won the game,” coach Todd Starkey said
The Flashes also played much better offensively in the second half, starting about 5 minutes into the third quarter. Bowling Green had just taken a 39-31 lead when Lurken scored off an offensive rebound. That started a 14-0 run for KSU that put the Flashes in control.
In the second half, KSU shot 44 percent from the field (it was 34 percent in the first half).
“We tried a few different screening actions that we hadn’t used in the first half based on how they were defending us,” Starkey said. “It freed up Larissa and Jordan on the same side of the floor, and Jordan did a good job of finishing around the basket.”
The Flashes got to the foul line 20 times in the second half, making 16 shots. In the first half, they had just eight free throws. Kent State, which leads the nation in made foul shots, gets 36 percent of its points from the foul line and has won many games this season there. Wednesday the Flashes outscored BG by 13 at the foul line and won by 10.
But the key thing, Starkey said, was playing like a first-place team.
“Every game for the rest of the season, everybody is going to give you their best shot because you’re sitting in the first spot,” Starkey said. “I told them at halftime, ‘This is what you said you wanted, and now you’re here. It’s time to step up and play at a higher level.'”
Lurken moves closer to season scoring record
Larissa Lurken had 20 points, 17 in the second half, along with 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and 3 steals.
She now has 624 points this season, second most in Kent State history. The season record is 732, set by Bonnie Beachy in 1980-81. Lurken will have at least four more games this season, though she may need five to break the record. She’d need to average just over 27 points in four games to pass Beachy. Over KSU’s last 15 games, she’s averaging just under 25.
Her overall average of 23.1 for the season is the highest of any player in Kent State history. Beachy played in 34 games in her record season.
For her career, Lurken is now at 1,512, which is 11th highest among KSU players. She’s 43 points out of eighth place. After that, it’s a big jump to seventh. It would take three or four conference and postseason tournament games to get there.
- Junior forward Jordan Korinek had 17 points and six rebounds for the Flashes. She now has 1,089 points in her career, 18th highest in school history.
- Redshirt freshman guard Megan Carter equaled the career high of 14 she set Saturday against Ohio. “Coach is talking to me now about trying to take some weight off of Larissa, sharing scoring, getting into double figures,” she said on the radio.
- Merissa Barber-Smith, the Flashes’ 6-4 sophomore post player, gave what Starkey called “a two-minute spark” with a putback, a blocked shot and two offensive rebounds in KSU’s 14-0 run.
- Kent State equaled a season low with eight turnovers. Bowling Green had 12, leading to 14 KSU points. BG scored 10 points off Kent turnovers.
- Bowling Green was 7 of 27 in three-point shooting. In the first game between the two teams (won 80-78 by KSU), the Falcons were 9 of 18. Carly Santoro, who had 31 points and five three-pointers in the first game, had 11 and one Wednesday. Andrea Cecil led BG with 14 points off the bench.
Kent State is home Saturday against Akron (2-13 and last in the MAC East, 9-17 overall). Akron lost at home to Miami (4-11, 10-18) Wednesday, 66-62. Game is at 2 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center.
Game story from Kent State website.
Game story from Bowling Green website, including video interviews with coach Jennifer Roos and player Sydney Lambert.
The view from Bowling Green
Coach Jennifer Roos, from video on BG website
“This is a game where our kids felt confident because we played Kent so well at the M.A.C. Center. We’ve been looking at this game for a long time. Our kids came out focused, played hard, played smart. We added a couple of new wrinkles to contain Lurken in the first half. But she took off in the second half.”
“We had a solid three quarters where it was our game, but there were five minutes here, three minutes there, and two-minute spurt there (that Kent State won the game).”
On Kent State’s advantage at the foul line
“That’s something they’ve been doing all year. We knew it was coming. (KSU coach Todd Starkey) does a great job of teaching kids to barrel into you and draw fouls. Lurken is head and shoulders above anybody doing that.
“With the new rules — which aren’t really new any more — that’s going to get called. We tried to do same thing and were a little hesitant and didn’t get some calls.
“In two games, we’ve had a combined 24 (made foul shots) compared to their 53. That’s a stat that’s hard to overcome.”
Sophomore guard Sydney Lambert
On Kent State’s 14-0 run in the third quarter
“We played really good defense the whole possession and then failed to box out. Seven straight of their points were off second chances.”
On BG’s lack of scoring in that run
“We wanted to score quickly. When we’re not playing at our pace, we’re not in a flow and can’t play basketball the way we want to.”
Other MAC scores
Buffalo (19-7, 9-6) 65, Ohio (18-8, 9-6) 54 at Buffalo.
Central Michigan (21-6, 13-2) 109, Northern Illinois (18-8, 11-4) 86 at Central.
Ball State (19-8, 12-3) 83, Western Michigan (16-10, 7-8) 72 at Western.
Toledo (18-8, 9-6) 65, Eastern Michigan (6-21, 1-14) 57 at Toledo.
Game summaries from the MAC website.