The final margin was 25 points, but Kent State’s 79-54 loss to No. 14 Stanford Thursday was a very different game than the score.
The Flashes played the Cardinal, a Final Four team last season, more than evenly in the first and third quarters. They led Stanford by five with 6:23 to go in the first half. Then Stanford went on a 24-0 run.
KSU outscored Stanford 16-9 in the third quarter and were down 59-49 with 9:13 to play. But the Cardinal finished on a 20-5 run as Kent State made only one of its last 10 shots.
“In spots, we outplayed them — no question about it,” coach Todd Starkey said in an interview relayed through assistant sports information director Jay Fiorello. “I thought we really competed. I was happy with our toughness, and we learned a lot about ourselves.
“But over the course of the game, their size and talent just caught up with us.”
Stanford starts forwards who are 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-3; Kent’s front line is 6-2 and 6-0. The Cardinal have one of the nation’s top programs — seven Final Four appearances in the last 10 years –– and at least two McDonald high School All-Americans on their roster.
Stanford used its size to outscore Kent State in the paint 40-10. They blocked nine KSU shots, and several of those came on three-point attempts.
Kent State’s game plan didn’t try to take on the Cardinal inside. The Flashes took 30 three-point shots — more than double their average in their first four games and more than in any game last season. They made 11, triple their average this season and their most in at least six seasons.
The Flashes worked to get senior forward Jordan Korinek open on the perimeter, where she made a career-high five three-pointers in eight attempts. Both Starkey and former coach Danny O’Banion had always said Korinek was a good distance shooter, but she had made a total of just 16 three-point baskets in her first three years at Kent State. She had never attempted more three in a game.
Korinek had 21 points, five rebounds and a blocked shot.
Sophomore guard Ali Poole had 14 points and led the Flashes with six rebounds, which equaled a career high.
Naddiyah Cross and Alexa Golden each had six assists as the Flashes had assists on 16 of their 20 baskets. Golden’s total was a career high. She also had two steals, three rebounds and five points in 37 minutes.
Gonzaga ext for Kent State
In its second game in the Play4Kay Showcase in Las Vegas, Kent State will play Gonzaga at 6 p.m. Friday (Kent time). Gonzaga (1-2) lost to Belmont 71-63 Thursday. Gonzaga was ranked seventh in the most recent Mid-Major Top 25; the Bulldogs were 26-7 and won the West Coast Conference regular season and tournament championships last year.
Belmont (3-1) will play Stanford.
Other scores from the tournament Thursday:
- Florida Gulf Coast (6-0) 89, No. 21 DePaul (3-2) 84 in overtime. FGCU beat Kent State 80-62 last weekend in the Akron Classic.
- No. 9 Ohio State (5-1) 100, Memphis (1-4) 69.
Florida Gulf Cost will play Ohio State Friday. Depending on Friday results, Kent State will play the loser of that game, DePaul or Memphis on Saturday.
To follow the Gonzaga game:
- The game starts at 6 p.m. Kent time.
- You can buy online video access through FloHoops. It costs $30 for the entire tournament. It’s a monthly subscription that’s automatically renewed. Be sure to cancel after you watch the tournament.
- Audio is on Golden Flash Radio, starting at about 5:45 p.m.
- Live statistics are available free through FloHoops.
Stanford game notes
- Stanford and Kent State are both now 3-2 on the season.
- Kent State made 20 of 57 field goals for 35 percent. The Flashes shot 48 percent in the first half and 42 through three quarters but were three of 17 in the fourth quarter. Stanford shot 56 percent for the game and 35 percent on three-point shots.
- Stanford outrebounded KSU 36-28 and outscored the Flashes 22-9 off turnovers, although total turnovers were about even. Kent State had 12 (nine of them Stanford steals), Stanford 11. Twelve was a season low in turnovers for the Flashes.
- Stanford had four players in double figures, led by 5-11 guard DiJonai Carrington, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds. She averages a double-double.