Flashes open MAC season at Eastern Michigan, which has league’s worst record

On paper, Eastern Michigan is the kind of team you like to come off the Christmas break against.

On paper, Eastern Michigan looks like a game Kent State should win to open its Mid-American Conference season on Saturday, even on the road.

The Eagles’ record is 4-7, worst in the MAC. Their RPI is 288, worst in the MAC. The three Division I teams they’ve beaten have a combined record of 2-28.

Eastern was the league’s worst team last season. KSU beat them twice, once by 19, once by 18.

The Flashes go into the MAC season with a 7-5 record and an RPI of 165. Their last game before Christmas was their best of the non-conference season — a 46-31 victory over Robert Morris, last year’s Northeastern Conference champions and the favorite in its league this season.

Saturday should mark the 2017-18 debut of KSU guard Megan Carter, who missed the first semester with academic problems. Coach Todd Starkey calls Carter the teams best offensive guard; she averaged 10 points a game in the second half of Kent’s conference season last year.

Carter has never started a game for the Flashes. She usually came off the bench last season to replace starting point guard Naddiyah Cross and played more minutes than Cross did in conference games. The two did sometimes play together last year. Cross has played very well defensively in Kent State’s last two games. Expect to see them together Saturday, with Carter also spelling guards Alexa Golden and Ali Poole.

Cross, Golden and Poole have all averaged more than 30 minutes a game this season. Carter should give them some needed rest.

Golden is Kent’s third leading scorer at 9.1 points a game, Poole the team’s fourth at 8.8 points. Cross leads the team in assists with 5.1 per game.

Senior forward Jordan Korinek leads Kent State in scoring (18.8 points a game, third in the MAC) and rebounding (5.8 per game). Grad student McKenna Stephens averages 9.6 points and 5.5 rebounds.

Eastern Michigan is led by 5-10 freshman guard Courtnie Lewis, who is averaging 12.3 points per game. Danielle Minott, a 5-8  junior transfer from Syracuse, averages 11.2 and Sasha Daily, another guard and the Eagles’ leading scorer last season, averages 10.0. Two other key players are transfers — 6-1 Emoni Jackson (Michigan) and 6-1 Loraine Enabulele (Kansas). Nine of the 13 women on Eastern’s will be playing their first MAC game as second-year coach Fred Castro rebuilds his roster.

Most concerning stat from Eastern is that the Eagles average 11.9 steals a game and have a plus-3.8 turnover margin. Kent State has had turnover problems — 25 against Robert Morris — and minus-3.7 average margin on the season. That’s the thing most likely to beat the Flashes.

To follow the game

Action starts at 2 p.m.  If you plan to go, here are directions from the Eastern Michigan website. It’s a pretty easy three-hour drive.

Video is on ESPN3. You can follow it online if your subscribe to ESPN on cable on satellite.

Audio starts at about 1:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio.

Live statistics will be available through the Eastern Michigan website.

Kent State website, including links to statistics, roster, schedule/results, record book and more.

Preview from the Eastern Michigan website, including links. Here are detailed game notes for the media.

MAC statistics.

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