Kent State’s 58-35 loss at Miami Saturday was a dispiriting end to a disappointing regular season.
About the only life the Flashes showed was a 10-4 run led by their bench to make the score 16-12 at the end of the first quarter. Miami had complete control after that.
KSU finishes the regular season at 5-13 in the MAC, the reverse of the 13-5 record that gave it an unexpected East Division championship last season. Overall the Flashes are 12-18.
They play on the road Monday in the first round of the MAC Tournament. Parings had not been officially announced at 5 p.m., but my reading is that KSU will play at Toledo. The Flashes beat Toledo 62-55 at Toledo Jan. 24 in their best conference game.
Kent State’s 35 points against Miami was its lowest since a 55-31 loss at Ball State in January 2013.
“We had a group that flat-out didn’t show up today,” coach Todd Starkey said in his postgame radio interview on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. “It’s disappointing. I was embarrassed by the way we played today.”
Eleven team members played more than 10 minutes as Starkey looked for any kind of productivity. He took out his entire starting lineup three-and-a-half minutes into the game after Miami jumped to a 10-2. That set of reserves — Tyra James, Zenobia Bess, Ali Poole, Monique Smith and Erin Thames — brought the score to within four at the end the quarter.
“They just played harder,” Starkey said. “We still didn’t play good basketball.”
Players shuttled in and out for the rest of the game — often five at a time. Every player available got in; freshman walk-on Margaux Eibel played a career-high 11 minutes, and not just at the end of the game.
But no one had success. No Kent player scored in double figures. Leading scorer Jordan Korinek had eight points, equaling her low for the season. Going into the game, Korinek was the MAC’s second-leading scorer and the fifth-highest scorer in Kent State history. James also had eight points. Bess had five. KSU’s four starters besides Korinek combined for eight points.
Now it’s up to the Flashes, who have lost seven of their last eight games, to try to regroup for the tournament.
“If they show up like this, our season will be over,” Starkey said. “If we decided to fight with purpose, then maybe we have a chance.
“Now that the regular season’s over, records don’t matter. That will be the message to them. If they want to play for something significant, all they have to do is show up and beat whoever we play Monday. And then we get to go to Cleveland and extend our season.”
- Miami finishes its regular season 12-6 and the fourth seed in the MAC tournament. Its 20-8 overall record is nine wins better than last year’s 11-21 season.
- Kent’s 35 points were the seventh fewest allowed by an opponent in Miami history.
- Miami’s Lauren Dickerson, the conference third leading scorer at 20.1 points a game, got into foul trouble in the first half and scored only six. Kendall McCoy, the Redhawks’ second leading scorer, had only five. Kayla Brown led Miami with 11 points.
- Kent State made 27.5 percent of its shots, second lowest of the season, and 2 of 15 three-point shots. The Flashes were outrebounded 35-25. They had been second in the MAC in rebounding margin.
After being very negative about his team’s performance for most of his radio interview, Starkey paused of a minute near the end, perhaps remembering how almost all of these players were on last year’s championship team.
“I do love these kids,” he said. “They’re great students, great student-athletes, really good people. We just didn’t come out with enough tenacity today.”
Other MAC scores
- Buffalo (16-2, 25-4) 74, Bowling Green (3-15, 11-18) 38 at Buffalo.
- Central Michigan (17-5, 25-4) 72, Toledo (8-10, 17-13) 67 at Toledo.
- Akron (3-15, 9-20) 62, Ohio (9-9, 15-14) 59 at Akron.
- Western Michigan (9-9, 16-14) 85, Northern Illinois (7-11, 15-14) 66 at Northern.
- Ball State (13-5, 24-5) 88, Eastern Michigan (6-12, 10-19) 63 at Eastern.