Flashes’ 62-55 win at Toledo is by far its most important victory of the season

Kent State’s 62-55 victory at Toledo Wednesday was such a big win in many ways:

  • The Flashes broke a three-game losing streak.
  • They broke Toledo’s 15-game home winning streak (9-0 this season before Wednesday).
  • They beat a team with a winning record for only the second time this season. Toledo also had by far the highest RPI of any team the Flashes have beaten.
  • And the win avenged a 67-63 loss in last year’s MAC Tournament that ended Kent State’s best regular season in six years.
  • It may, coach Todd Starkey hopes, put the Flashes back on track for a first-division finish in the conference.

Kent State is now 3-5 in the MAC and 10-10 overall. Toledo is 13-7 and 4-4. The Flashes are tied for third in the MAC East and tied for eighth in the conference overall. Toledo is fifth in the West and seventh overall.

“We’ve been out of rhythm (through KSU’s losing streak),” Starkey said in his postgame interview on Golden Flash Radio. “We’ve really focused on ourselves for the last few days and what we needed to do better. A lot of the games we’ve lost, we’ve been beating ourselves.

“Hopefully this will give us confidence moving forward because I think we’re a better team that we’ve shown lately.”

KSU broadcaster David Wilson asked Starkey what he was going to tell the team when he got to the locker room.

“I’me going to tell them that I’m proud of them,” the coach said. “And I’m going to tell them I expect more of this coming up.”

Senior forward Jordan Korinek scored 30 points for KSU and made 17 out of 18 foul shots. The Flashes as a team made 30 of 38 free throws and outscored Toledo 30-12 from the foul line.

Korinek’s point total was one away from her career high. Her 17 rebounds equaled a career high set against Eastern Michigan earlier this month and is the fourth most free throws in a game in Kent State history. Going into the game, Korinek was seventh in the country in made free throws this season.

Starkey said Korinek’s key statistic may not have been the foul shots.

“With all the touches she had, she only had two turnovers in 38 minutes.,” Starkey said.

Korinek also had 11 rebounds for her seventh career double-double and had two steals. Much of her scoring came against Toledo’s Kaayla McIntyre, one of the conference’s better centers.

Korinek and Kent State’s defense held McIntyre, the Rockets’ leading scorer at 15.2 points a game, to eight.

“Defensively we did a fantastic job, ” Starkey said. “We tried to switch defenses a lot, and I thought that really threw them out of their rhythm.

“We were trying to double team the post. McIntyre is a tough player, obviously, and we did a really good job of holding her to eight. But our rotations out of the double team (to pick up a player left unguarded) were really good.”

Kent State held Toledo to 32 percent shooting, 10 points below its season average. KSU forced the Rockets, not usually a big three-point shooting team, to take 23 shots from distance. They made only five.

Box score

Notes

  • The Flashes scored the first basket and led all but 37 seconds of the game. Toledo cut the lead to one at halftime, then Kent scored the first four points of the third quarter. The margin was between three and seven points for the rest of the game.
  • McKenna Stephens came within a rebound of giving KSU two players with double-doubles. She scored 10 points and had nine rebounds, along with three assists and a steal.
  • Ali Poole had three steals, including one with 21 seconds to go that ended any chance for a Toledo comeback.
  • Kent State made 35 percent of its shots, about five points below its average. The Flashes outrebounded Toledo, 40-34.
  • KSU guards Naddiyah Cross and Megan Carter both got into first-half foul trouble, so freshman Erin Thames saw extended minutes for the second game in a row. She also scored the first basket of her college career (her previous four points all came on free throws). Redshirt junior Tyra James played six minutes, her highest since the non-conference season.
  • Kent State had 18 turnovers, about its season average, which is last in the MAC. But Toledo scored only 12 points off of them; Ball State had scored 29 off turnovers against Kent on Saturday. The Flashes scored eight points of 16 Toledo turnovers.
  • Kent State usually travels the day before an away game and has a shooting session on opponent’s court. Wednesday the Flashes drove to Toledo earlier in the day and warmed up just before the game.
  • Mikaela Boyd, Toledo’s 5-7 junior guard, led the Rockets with 19 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Mariella Santucci had 13 points. McIntyre had 10 rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals.
  • Attendance at Savage Hall in Toledo was 3,722. Toledo averages 3,124 fans per game, best in the MAC by 1,300 and 33rd in the nation. Kent State has averaged 241 attendance in its five home games.

Kent State heads to Akron on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game. The Zips are 0-8 in the MAC (6-13 overall) and lost at home to Western Michigan Wednesday, 59-51. Six of Akron’s losses have been by less than 10 points.

The view from Toledo

Toledo coach Tricia Cullop, quoted on Toledoblade.com:

“This one hurts. It hurts because it’s at home, and it hurts because I feel like we are a lot better team than the way we played tonight. I thought Kent State outplayed us tonight and that is something I hate to see, especially at home. We didn’t have an answer for Jordan Korinek inside. I’m kind of at a loss for words because I want us to play a lot harder than we did tonight.

“We’ve had two really tough games in a row that resulted in two losses. We have to decide what we want to do here. We can feel sorry for ourselves, or we can decide that we are going to be a champion in our mindset. The way a winner thinks is next play and next game. Let’s be better and learn from our mistakes.”

Junior guard Mikaela Boyd, who led UT with 19 points and 13 rebounds:

“When we aren’t making shots, we just need to get stops. Tonight we weren’t doing that, and that made it ten times worse. Even if our offensive isn’t going, we just need to be able to get defensive stops because our stops lead to transition.”

Cullop on Boyd:

“Her effort was sensational. She willed us into staying in the game. We have to have some more firepower than Mikaela, though. At times we had some little flashes, but we just couldn’t maintain it.”

 

Other MAC scores

  • Miami (3-5, 11-8) 73, Eastern Michigan (5-3, 9-10) 69 at Eastern.
  • Ohio (5-3, 11-8) 77, Northern Illinois (2-6, 10-9) 75 at Ohio.
  • Ball State (5-3, 15-3) 82, Bowling Green (2-6, 10-9) 41 at Ball State.
  • Western Michigan (5-3, 12-8), Akron (0-8, 6-13) 51 at Akron.

West Division leader Central Michigan (7-0, 15-3) and East Division leader Buffalo (6-1, 15-3) were off Wednesday.

MAC standings

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