Buffalo outscored Kent State 24-2 over an eight-minute span in the third quarter and beat the Flashes Wednesday in the MAC quarterfinals.
The 72-50 defeat ends Kent State’s season with a 13-19 record. Buffalo, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, advances to Friday’s semifinals with a 26-4 record. The Bulls will play Ball State or Western Michigan, which were playing the final game at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night.
The Flashes played better than they had in two regular-season blowout losses to Buffalo. They were within five points at halftime and scored the first four points of the second half to make it a 32-31 game.
That’s when Buffalo’s defense took over. The Bulls forced 10 turnovers for the rest of the quarter and scored 15 of their 24 points off of them.
Steals and scoring off turnovers have been Buffalo’s strength and Kent State’s weakness all season. KSU coach Todd Starkey called the Bulls “a very hard matchup” for Kent State.
For the game, Buffalo scored an incredible 41 points off of Kent State turnovers. (I’m never seen a number that high.) They stole the ball 20 times, with only three coming in the fourth quarter when reserves were playing.
The Bulls themselves committed 13 turnovers (five in the fourth quarter). Kent State scored seven points off of them, and only two in the first three quarters.
Jordan Korinek and McKenna Stephens, playing their last game in Kent State uniforms, each had 16 points. Stephens had a double-double with 10 rebounds. Korinek finishes her career with 1,786 points, fifth highest in Kent State history.
Stephanie Reid, Buffalo’s senior point guard, played a near-perfect game to lead the Bulls. She had 22 points of 10 of 15 shooting, 11 assists five steals and no turnovers in 33 minutes.
Starkey said Kent State guard Megan Carter should be all right after a frightening moment in the third quarter. Carter fell to the floor after a collision guarding a Buffalo player’s drive in the third quarter. She lay on her back for more than 10 minutes and was taken from the court on a stretcher as a precaution for a possible head injury.
DETAILED STORY WILL FOLLOW, WITH QUOTES FROM STARKEY, KORINEK AND STEPHENS