Central Michigan’s Tinara Moore (2) and Kent State’s Jordan Korinek (35) are two of the best forwards in the MAC and went at each other all game Saturday. Moore had 21 points and 14 rebounds. Korinek had 28 points and seven rebounds. (Photo from Central Michigan website.)
Coach Todd Starkey put it like this in his postgame interviewer on Golden Flash Radio:
“Central Michigan beat us,” he said. “But we helped.”
Central, at 5-0 the only MAC team undefeated in conference play, beat the Flashes, 88-84, Saturday in Mount Pleasant. Overall CMU is 13-3. Kent State is 2-3 in the league and 9-8 overall.
Kent State played with the Chippewas pretty well for most of the afternoon. Central may have the best starting lineup in the conference, including third-leading scorer Presley Hudson (18.8 points a game), leading rebounder Reyna Frost (13.3 a game) and returning all-MAC forward Tinara Moore (16.9 points, 9.3 rebounds a game).
Central had won its last three MAC games by an average of 26 points. Its closest league game was also a four-point victory, 69-65 at 14-2 Ball State.
It was a fourth starter, senior Cassie Breen, though, who led Central Saturday with 26 points, making seven of 12 three-point shots.
Kent State fell behind Central Michigan 23-14 after the first quarter and trailed by as many as 15 in the first half and 17 in the second. But the Flashes kept coming back, closing to within three in the third quarter.
But Kent State committed four turnovers in a row with 2:56 to go after they had closed the game to nine points.
“We kept fighting, we kept coming back,” Starkey said. “But I’m tired of saying that they kept fighting but coming up short against good teams. I want to find a way to do the right things down the stretch and come up with a really good win against good teams.”
Central was the fourth top-50 RPI team Kent State has lost to this season. In every game, the Flashes played at least two good quarters but couldn’t extend the good play for the whole game. The Flashes have beaten only one team with a winning record (Robert Morris, now 12-4) and no team with an RPI of above 160. (RPI is a ranking system based on a team’s record and strength of schedule. KSU’s RPI is 129 of 349 Division I teams.)
Kent State got very good games from Megan Carter, Jordan Korinek and McKenna Stephens. Carter beat her career high by 10 with 27 points. She made 11 of 18 shots and three of four three-pointers, had three assists and two steals. She has averaged 15 points a game since she became eligible after the first semester. (She missed fall with academic problems.)
Korinek, the conference’s third leading scorer, had 28 points on 11 of 16 shooting and six of six free foul shots.. She also had seven rebounds and three assists. Korinek, who is averaging 24.2 points a game in five MAC games, is the only player in the league to score more than 20 points in every conference game. She has made 43 of 47 foul shots in MAC play.
Stephens had 15 points on six of 11 shooting with three three-point baskets. She also had six rebounds, four assists, a blocked shot and a steal. Alexa Golden had seven rebounds, three steals and two assists to go with two-three pointers.
But in the end, Kent State turnovers and CMU’s offensive rebounding and three-point shooting made the difference in the game.
The Flashes committed 18 turnovers, about their season average, and Central scored 23 points off of them. KSU scored 22 points off of 11 Central turnovers.
The Chippewas had 19 second-chance points off of 17 offensive rebounds and made 11 of 29 three-point shots. They lead the MAC in three-point baskets per game.
“It seemed like if we took something away, they found something else,” Starkey said. “They’re a really good team.”
Breen’s 26 points were a season high. She is fifth in the MAC in three-point percentage. Moore had 21 points and 14 rebounds. Hudson had 15 points, Micaela Kelly 12 and Reyna Frost 11. Only one non-starter scored for Central, and she had three points.
- Kent State’s 84 points were the most it has scored this season. Previous high was in their 82-74 win over Detroit. Central’s 88 points was the most KSU has given up this season. Northern Illinois scored 81 in a two-point victory last week.
- The Flashes made 54 percent of their shots, a season high, including 61 percent in the second half. Their 47 percent three-point percentage (eight of 17) was also a high. Central was 44 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point distance.
- The teams were the top two in the league statistically in rebounding, and Central won that battle with 38. Kent State had 33. Going into the game, CMU had a plus-10.2 rebounding margin, Kent State plus-5.7.
- Kent State had baskets at the buzzer in the second, third and fourth quarters. Carter made a layup right before halftime and a three-point shot at the end of the game. She passed to point guard Naddiyah Cross for a layup at the end of the third quarter.
- Senior forward Zenobia Bess played a season-high 14 minutes and had a season-high four rebounds. She scored four points.
- Kent State travels to Bowling Green Wednesday for its first MAC East game. Bowling Green is 1-4 in the MAC and 9-7 on the season. The Falcons beat Akron Saturday at Akron, 66-64, coming from 12 points down in the last six minutes. Akron is 0-5 and 6-10.
The view from Central Michigan
Central Michigan coach Sue Guevara devoted much of her postgame comments to unhappiness with her team’s play in the last four minutes. Kent State cut a 15-point lead to the final four-point margin.
“We had gotten the lead,” she said. “Then we started going like the house was on fire. We took really quick shots and passing or shooting before we got the ball. I’m just really glad we were able to pull it out because we almost gave it away.
“If we can just get past the last four minutes and 35 seconds, then I probably wouldn’t be upset. But I know what this team wants to do, so I have to do a better job at making them understand that and making them do it in practice.”
Guevara’s win was her 100th on Central’s home court. She is 188-146 in 11 seasons at Central.
Game story from the CMU website.
Other MAC scores
Buffalo won a big road game, beating Ball State at Ball State, 84-80. The Bulls are 4-1, the second-best record in the league. Buffalo and Central play at Central Jan. 31 and in Buffalo on Feb. 14. Overall Buffalo is 13-3. Ball State is 14-2 and 3-2 in the MAC.
Ohio, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Western Michigan are all 3-2. Kent State and Northern Illinois are 2-3.
- Ohio (3-2, 9-7) 69, Western Michigan (3-2, 10-7) 54 at Western.
- Eastern Michigan (3-2, 7-9) 74, Miami (1-4, 9-7) 59 at Miami.
- Toledo (3-2, 12-5) 63, Northern Illinois (2-3, 10-5) at Toledo.
- Bowling Green (1-4, 9-8) 66, Akron (0-5, 6-10) 64 at Akron.