The way it started and the way it ended told the story of Kent State’s 75-60 loss at Akron Saturday.
The Flashes missed seven of their first nine shots. Three-point shots rolled around the rim. Layups bounced away.
It was still close — 13-11 at the quarter, 32-29 at the half, 47-42 after three quarters.
But the end…
The Flashes missed 10 shots in the last minute, not being able to convert on six offensive rebounds.
Kent State missed 20 shots in the last quarter, when they were outscored 28-18 as Akron pulled away.
Meanwhile, Akron pushed the ball down the court after Kent’s missed shots and 13 turnovers. The Zips outscored KSU 14-0 on fast-break points, which are loosely defined as when a team scores before its opponent gets back and sets up its defense. The Zips outscored Kent 13-3 off of turnovers and made 47 percent of their shots.
KSU shot a season-low 29 percent. The Flashes missed 23 layups and 21 three-point shots. They took 77 shots, a season high and 13 more than Akron. They missed 55 of them.
It was Akron’s first victory in nine Mid-American Conference games. Overall the Zips are 7-13. Kent State is 3-6 in the MAC and 10-11 overall.
“We missed some unexplainable baskets right out of the gate,” coach Todd Starkey said in his postgame press conference. “Five baskets — four layups — that went in and came back out. For whatever reason, they went down for us and not for them — playing on their home court, maybe.
“They just wanted it more than we did. They’ve been playing good basketball in conference play, and they’ve been close sometimes, and they weren’t going to be denied today.
“They played hungry. We knew that was going to be the case, and we tried to prepare for that. And our players didn’t respond the way they needed to. We got outworked.”
Akron point guards Shaunay Edmonds (15 points, nine assists) and Destiny Perkins (19 points, four assists), often playing at the time, led a fast-paced Akron offense. Akron coach Jodi Kest was clearly delighted — and relived — at her team’s first conference win.
“At one point in the huddle — we were up by four or five — I looked into their eyes and I told them, ‘We are going to win,'” she said. “We are going to keep running and keep running and keep running. That’s who we are.”
Starkey said Kent’s defense didn’t adjust to Akron’s speed.
“Our transition defense was not good,” he said. “They broke us down up at the top and our defensive rotations were not good out of that.”
The coach struggled to explain the missed layups.
“We’ve been working on it every day,” he said. “For two weeks, we’ve been working on finishing against contact.”
Except for leading scorer Jordan Korinek, everybody missed shots for Kent State. Megan Carter, who had been making 41 percent of her shots, was two of 20 on field goals. Ali Poole (35 percent), made four of 15. McKenna Stephens (43 percent) was three of 11. Alexa Golden (33 percent) was two of 10.
Korinek made nine of 16, including two three-point baskets, and had 22 points. She also had 10 rebounds for her second straight double-double. But she picked up her fourth and fifth fouls within seven seconds of each other and was out of the game with 3:25 to go.
- The win gives Akron a half point and a 4 to 1.5 lead in the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge, which scores every game the two teams play in all sports. Half points go when teams meet twice, as in basketball.
- Kent State outrebounded the Zips 51-42 with 21 offensive rebounds. The Flashes outscored Akron 20-3 on second-chance points but were outscored 48-20 in the paint. The wasn’t necessarily muscle inside; a lot of those points came of fast breaks and drives to the baskets from Akron’s guard, as well as the guards dumping the ball of to a post player after driving.
- Golden had a career-high 13 rebounds, including seven offensive rebounds, four assists and a steal.
- Akron had 19 assists and nine turnovers, an excellent team ratio. Kent State had 13 and 13.
- Kent State made 10 of 16 free throws and didn’t shoot a foul shot in the first half. Fouls were not called on a lot of contact, and Starkey was riding the officials most of the game. Kent State shot 38 fouls at Toledo on Wednesday, and when the Flashes do not outscore their opponents at the foul line, they struggle to win. Akron was 10 of 18 on free throws.
- Attendance was 704, and the crowd was noisy and appreciative as Akron pulled away in the fourth quarter and closed on its first win in nine games.
The Flashes are back in Kent at 7 p.m. Wednesday to play Bowling Green. The Falcons beat KSU 60-50 in Bowling Green Jan. 17 and are 2-7 in the MAC and 10-10 overall. They lost to Toledo at home Saturday, 77-67.
Other MAC scores
- Buffalo (7-1, 16-3) 97, Eastern Michigan (5-4, 9-11) 92 in overtime at Buffalo.
- Central Michigan (8-0, 16-3) 74, Western Michigan (5-4, 12-9) at Central.
- Ball State (6-3, 17-3) 81, Northern Illinois (2-7, 10-10) 72 at Ball State.
- Miami (4-5, 12-8) 64, Ohio (5-4, 11-9) 55 at Miami.
- Toledo (5-4, 14-7) 77, Bowling Green (2-7, 10-10) 67 at BG.