Flashes struggle to find outside scoring in 78-65 loss to Ohio, fall to 10th in MAC

 

All season Kent State has been looking for a consistent second and third scorer.

With five games to play, the Flashes still haven’t found one.

Forwards Jordan Korinek (21 points) and McKenna Stephens (14) led the Flashes Saturday, but no one else scored in double figures in a 78-65 loss to Ohio at the M.A.C. Center.

Kent State fell to 4-9 on the Mid-American Conference and slipped to 10th place in the league. The Flashes are 11-14 overall and have lost three in a row.

Ohio is 7-5 in the MAC and 13-10 overall.

“We have to have better balance in scoring,” coach Todd Starkey said. “Someone has got to step up offensively.”

Korinek has scored in double figures in all except one of KSU’s 25 games this season. But no one else has scored at least 10 points in even half of the team’s games. Six players besides Korinek have done it at least once.

It limits the Flashes in a number of ways.

Korinek is primarily an inside scorer. Other teams try to crowd her in in the paint and force Flashes to shoot from the outside. KSU is last in the MAC in three-point percentage and second to last in three-pointers per game. No Kent player is in the MAC’s top 10 in either three-point baskets per game or three-point percentage.

It makes it hard when the Flashes fall behind.

“We don’t have the offensive firepower to really catch people,” Starkey said. “We have to start the game with the lead and play great defense to keep that lead. That’s when we’ve been most successful.”

Ohio led 21-13 after the first quarter Saturday. The game stayed between four and nine points until the middle of the fourth quarter, when OU went on an 8-0 run. Kent State had rallied to come within 60-56.

“We were trading baskets with them,” Starkey said. “When we were good offensively, they were good offensively. When we were good defensively, they were, too.”

Ohio spent much of the game trying to isolate its quick guards against Kent State defenders and scored on drives to pass for three-point shots. OU’s Cierra Hooks, perhaps the MAC’s leading candidate for freshman of the year, scored 16. Guard Amani Burke scored 20 off the bench. Guard Katie Barker made four of eight three-point baskets.

“All four of those threes were miscommunication on defense and not paying attention to the scouting report,” Starkey said. “We didn’t make her drive one time, and that’s what we talked about.”

In all, Ohio made nine three-point shots. Kent State made four of its 10 three-point attempts. That was substantially better than the five for 40 KSU had done in its previous two games, but, Starkey said, “We’re not that type of team.”

Box score 

Notes

  • Ohio is second in the MAC in turnover margin, but the Flashes played them evenly Saturday. Each team had 20; Ohio scored 16 off them and Kent State 15.
  • But the Bobcats played much better than their averaging in rebounding, beating KSU on the board 34-33. They had been last in the conference in rebounding margin; Kent State was second. Korinek had 11 rebounds for the Flashes, giving her her third double-double of the season.
  • Alexa Golden had five steals and Stephens three blocked shots, both one off career highs. Megan Carter had five assists.
  • Kent State made 22 of 57 shots for 38.6 percent, about its average. But the Flashes were 5 of 12 (29 percent) in the fourth quarter when OU pulled away. Ohio was 25 for 55 for 45.5 percent.
  • Larissa Lurken, the MAC’s player of the year last season when Kent State won the East Division, watched the game from the stands behind the Kent bench. She had the weekend off from a nursing job in Minneapolis.

The Flashes have a midweek bye and play Miami at home on Saturday. Miami is 7-6 in the MAC and 15-9 overall. The Redhawks lost at home Saturday to East leader Buffalo, 64-49.

The view from Ohio

Ohio coach Bob Bolden, quoted on the OU team webite.

“We played a gross second quarter offensively, and we rebounded from that. We showed the right balance of patience and aggressiveness. They finished it. Down the stretch they hit their free throws when they needed to make free throws, they handled pressure well. I was proud of them for that.”

Other MAC scores

  • Central Michigan (12-0, 20-3) 85, Toledo (6-7, 15-10) 47 at Central.
  • Northern Illinois (5-8, 13-11) 73, Bowling Green (2-11, 10-14) 68 at Northern.
  • Buffalo (10-2, 19-4) 64, Miami (7-6, 15-9) 49 at Miami.
  • Ball State (9-5, 20-4) 81, Western Michigan (7-6, 14-11) 71 at Western.

Akron (1-11, 7-16) plays at Eastern Michigan (5-6, 9-13) on Sunday.

MAC standings

 

 

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