Coach Todd Starkey’s analysis of Kent State’s 60-50 loss at Bowling Green was clear.
Now the Flashes have to figure out what to do about it.
The 10-point loss was KSU’s first to a team with a losing record in the MAC in Starkey’s two years as coach. Bowling Green was 1-4 in the conference going into the game. The Falcons are now 10-7. Kent State is 9-9 overall and also 2-4 in the MAC.
“We’ve been vastly inconsistent,” the coach said on his postgame interview on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. “We’ve got to quit playing at the level of our competition. We can’t score 50 points against this team and score 84 against Central Michigan. It just makes no sense.”
KSU had scored a season-high in its 88-84 loss Saturday to Central, the only team undefeated in MAC play. Central had beaten BG 90-54 in Bowling Green a week ago.
“We have to look inward and say, ‘What aren’t we doing as a coaching staff to get them to play their best?‘” Starkey said. “(Players) have got to look at themselves and say, ‘What do we have to do better?'”
Kent State struggled with the same problems it has faced all season.
The Flashes struggle when Jordan Korinek struggles. Korinek, the MAC’s leading scorer going into the game at 20.4 points per game, had only seven Wednesday and got off only six shots.
“Bowling Green did a good job in its game plan: If you beat Jordan up early, it takes her out of the game,” Starkey said. “They did a good job of clogging the paint.
“Partly it was their physical play. And partly it was our guards inability to get to ball to her without turning it over.”
Kent State, the worst team the conference in turnover margin, had 20 turnovers.
“We can’t play a team that doesn’t press and turn the ball over 20 times and think we’re going to be in a game,” Starkey said. “Until we get that fixed, it’s going to be a difficult road for us.”
Starkey has talked of an inconsistent effort from his team most of the season.
“We looked like we were running in mud,” Starkey said. “Effort-wise, focus-wise, aggressiveness-wise, we’re just too up and down, too inconsistent.
“Bowling Green just wanted it more than we did down the stretch. We didn’t execute well, they got to every loose ball and obviously knocked down some big shots.”
The game was close throughout. Kent State led by three after the first quarter and one at halftime. BG led by two after three quarters.
In the fourth, the teams traded six-point runs. Then with BG leading 49-46, Kent State missed a foul shot, a layup and a three-point shot. Bowling Green’s Sydney Lambert than scored a layup and hit a desperation three-point shot with the shot clock expiring to give the Falcons a 54-47 lead.
Kent State cut it to four, but Bowling Green hit six foul shots in the last minute.
For the game, the Falcons made 15 of 17 free throws. Kent was 13 of 19. Generally when the Flashes are outscored at the foul line, they struggle. Korinek, who is second in the country in made foul shots before the game, was three of five.
- Ali Poole led Kent State with 17 points. She scored 12 in the first quarter, making five of six shots and two or three three-pointers. Megan Carter had 12 points on five of nine shooting and had three assists.
- KSU made three of 19 three-point shots (15.8 percent). Overall, the Flashes were 17 for 50 shooting (34 percent), about six points below their average. Bowling Green shot fine from three-point distance — nine of 23 for 39 percent — but struggled on two-point shots. They were nine of 44 (20 percent). Much of that was because of good Kent State defense, but the Flashes gave up some easy drives to the basket in the fourth quarter when BG took control of the game.
- Kent State outrebounded the Falcons 45-30, led by McKenna Stephens’ career-high 13. But the Flashes got just seven second-chance points on 10 offensive rebounds.
- Korinek’s first basket put her over 1,500 points for her career. She has 1,505, 12th most in Kent State history. If she averages 20 for the rest of the season, she’ll finish in with place all time. Starkey said Korinek had been struggling with a jammed thumb for several weeks. It apparently was taped heavily in the second half Wednesday. (Before last night, she had averaged 24 points a game in MAC play.)
- Merissa Barber-Smith, the 6-4 junior backup center, missed her third straight game with illness. Freshman Kasey Toles was unavailable because of an ankle injury.
- Bowling Green had nine steals and turned KSU’s 20 turnovers into 23 points. Kent scored 13 points off of 11 BG turnovers.
- The Flashes held Bowling Green’s leading scorer, Carly Santoro, to five points on two of eight shooting. That was nine below her average. Santoro had five rebounds, five below her average. Sydney Lambert led BG with 13 points and backup guard Catterrion Thompson had 12. Both made three three-pointers.
Kent State is home Saturday to play Ball State at 2 p.m. Ball State, which started the season 12-0, has lost two straight and is 3-3 in the MAC (15-3 overall). The Cardinals lost at Toledo (4-2 MAC, 13-5 overall), 72-66 Wednesday.
Other MAC scores
- Central Michigan (6-0, 14-3) 81, Northern Illinois (2-4, 10-7) 78 at Northern.
- Eastern Michigan (4-2, 8-9) 69, Western Michigan (10-8, 3-3) 67 in overtime at Eastern.
- Buffalo (5-1, 14-3) 67, Ohio (3-3, 9-8) 63 at Ohio.
- Miami (2-4, 10-7) 75, Akron (0-6, 6-11) 67 at Miami.