CORRECTION: Story has been updated to correct game time to 7 p.m. Kent time (6 p.m. Illinois time).
On paper, Kent State and Northern Illinois are very evenly match.
The Flashes are 8-5. The Huskies are 8-4.
KSU’s RPI is 139 with a schedule strength of 237. Northern’s is 138 with a schedule strength of 273.
Both teams lost one of the best players in their schools’ history to graduation. For Kent State it was Larissa Lurken, who set a single-season scoring record last season. For NIU, it was Aly Lehman, a two-time all-MAC player who holds 13 different school records.
A key factor, though, is that Tuesday’s game — second of the MAC season for both teams — is at Northern Illinois, where the Huskies are 3-0 this season and were 9-4 a year ago. NIU beat Kent State 93-72 in DeKalb last season two weeks after the Huskies won a 98-97 barnburner at Kent.
Kent State is 5-1 on the road this season and coming off a 67-60 victory at Eastern Michigan (4-8) Saturday. Northern Illinois lost 67-65 at Miami (9-3).
Under third-year head coach Lisa Carlsen, NIU features a fast-paced offense that scores a lot of points and doesn’t worry a lot about defense. The Huskies average 81.7 points, second best in the MAC, but give up 75.3, worst in the conference.
Kent State is pretty much the opposite. The Flashes lead the MAC in defense at 61.5 points a game but score the fewest points in the conference at 61.5.
Three NIU players average in double-figures — 6-2 junior wing Courtney Woods (18.1 points, 7.1 rebounds), 5-9 senior guard Mikayla Voigt (15.0 points, 4.1 assists) and 6-1 senior forward Kelly Smith (16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds). 6-2 sophomore forward Ally May averaged 9.3 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Jordan Korinek (18.9 points, 5.8 rebounds) and McKenna Stephens (10.2 points, 6.0 rebounds) are Kent State’s top scorers. Megan Carter had 16 points in her first game of the season at Eastern Michigan; she missed the fall semester because of academic issues.
Kent State stayed on the road after its win in Ypsilanti. The Flashes went from Ypsilanti to Illinois, where they practiced twice at Lewis University in Romeoville, about 35 miles from Chicago. The team had dinner Monday at the suburban Chicago home of the parents of Allison Seberger, the team’s director of operations.
The team took a 60-mile bus ride to DeKalb Tuesday, practiced and watched the KSU men play Northern Illinois last night.
To follow the game
Action starts at 7 p.m. Kent time (6 p.m. in Illinois).
Video is on ESPN3. You can follow it online if your subscribe to ESPN on cable or on satellite.
Audio starts at about 6:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio.
Live statistics will be available through the Northern Illinois website.
Kent State website, including links to statistics, roster, schedule/results, record book and more.
Other scores of interest to KSU fans:
Ohio (7-5) routed Toledo (9-4) in Athens Sunday, 78-61. The outcome wasn’t a complete surprise — it’s hard to win on the road in the MAC — but the margin was.
Other home winners in Saturday MAC openers were Miami (9-3) over NIU (8-4) and Western Michigan (8-5) over Bowling Green (8-4), 67-58.
Central Michigan (9-3) got a big road win at previously undefeated Ball State (11-1), 69-65. Ball State shot poorly in the game and tied it in the last few minutes, but CMU held on.
Buffalo (10-2) beat Akron (6-6) at Akron, 89-66, and Kent State beat Eastern Michigan at Eastern.
Kent State opened its season with a 59-54 win at Northern Kentucky, a team that was 2-10 going into Saturday’s game with No. 19 Green Bay. In one of the bigger upsets of the women’s season, Northern beat Green Bay 62-54.