2 MAC teams in NCAA, 3 in WNIT

MAC champion Central Michigan and runner-up Buffalo are both 11th seeds in the NCAA tournament.

Central (28-4) will play No. 24 LSU (19-9) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Ohio State’s Value City Arena. Sixth-seeded LSU finished fourth in the SEC and has an RPI of 29 (out of 349 Division I teams). Central’s RPI is 15. RPI is a rating system that takes into account a team’s record and strength of schedule.

Buffalo (27-5) will play sixth-seeded South Florida (26-7 and ranked 19th in the latest AP poll) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Florida State in Tallahassee. South Florida finished second to No. 1 Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference. Its RPI is 14; Buffalo’s is 22.

Central made the NCAA by winning the MAC Tournament with a 96-91 victory over Buffalo in Saturday’s finals. Buffalo received an at-large bid; this is the first time the MAC has had two teams in the NCAA tournament since Kent State and Toledo made it in 1996. (That was the year KSU beat Texas A&M for its only NCAA tournament victory.)

WNIT

Three MAC teams made the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

Ball State (24-6), playing in its sixth straight WNIT, hosts Middle Tennessee (18-12) Thursday. Middle Tennessee tied for third in Conference USA and has an RPI of 112. Ball State finished third in the MAC and has an RPI of 44.

Toledo (17-14) will play at Wright State (23-10) Friday. Wright State finished third in the Horizon League and has an RPI of 84. Toledo’s RPI is 85. Kent State knocked Toledo out of the MAC Tournament with an 80-76 overtime win at Toledo.

Miami (21-10) will host Duquesne (23-7) Thursday. The Redhawks finished fourth in the MAC this season. Under new coach Megan Duffy, Miami had 11 more wins than it did in 2016-17, the second best improvement in Division I. Duquesne finished second in the Atlantic 10 Conference and has an RPI of 74. Miami’s RPI is 78.

 

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One more honor for Korinek: She’s KSU’s 3rd first-team Academic All-American

The capstone for Jordan Korinek’s basketball career came Monday.

She was named a first-team Academic All-American, the third in Kent State history.

The award wonderfully illustrates the contribution the senior from Cuyahoga Falls made to Kent State University.

  • She was a great athlete — fifth-leading scorer in KSU history (and a lot more we’ll talk about later).
  • She is a great student — a perfect 4.0 average in special education.
  • She is a great person, from everything I’ve heard about her and from my interaction with her in writing this blog for four years.

All the details are below, but first, let’s look as this Twitter thread from last week’s MAC Tournament

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Korinek joins Kate Miller, a 2002 graduate, and Lindsay Shearer, a 2006 grad, as the only Flashes to receive academic first-team honors. Shearer is 13 points ahead of Korinek in all-time scoring at 1,799. Miller played just her senior season for the Flashes after transferring from American University.

Korinek was a second-team academic all-American last season, along with teammate Larissa Lurken, who graduated in May. Kent State was the only school last year to have two academic all-Americans.

Some highlights of Korinek’s time at Kent State:

CAREER RANKS

  • Fifth in points with 1,786 points.
  • Sixth in scoring average at 14.6.
  • Fifth in field goals with 662.
  • Fourth in field goal percentage at 50.4.
  • Fifth in free-throw percentage at 81.1.
  • Sixth in free-throws made with 445.
  • Sixth in free throws attempted at 549.
  • Sixth in rebounds at 751.

SEASON RANKS

All for this season except as noted.

  • Third in total points at 634.
  • Seventh in scoring average at 19.8.
  • Second in free throws made at 197, which was fifth in Division I this season.
  • Fourth in free throws attempted at 234. 10th in Division I.
  • Sixth in field goals at 208.
  • Sixth in field goal percentage at 54.3 (in 2107-17).

HONORS

  • Second leading scorer, MAC East championship team, 2016-17.
  • All-MAC first team 2018, second team 2017, honorable mention 2016. (Preseason all-MAC East 2016-17 and 2017-18)
  • First-team Academic All-American 2018, second team 2017. Academic all-district 2016, 2017, 2018.

She started 113 of her 122 games at Kent State.

Korinek was a first-team all-state player at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron.  Her parents, Stanton and Erin, rarely missed a game. Her older sister, Morgan, played basketball at Kenyon College and is an assistant coach there. Her younger sister, Sydney, is a junior at St. Vincent-St. Mary, where she is a key reserve on the basketball team. Korinek’s older brother, Kori, was a baseball player at Buffalo.

Two other MAC players made the first academic all-American team: guard Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriot of Toledo and guard Carmen Grande of Ball State.

The all-academic teams is chosen by college sports information directors. To be eligible, players need a 3.3 GPA and be starters or key reserves.

Biography information at KSU women’s basketball website.

 

Buffalo’s 41 points off KSU turnovers end Flashes’ season in MAC quarterfinals, 72-50

Senior Jordan Korinek and coach Todd Starkey after she came out for the final time in a four-year career where she scored 1,786 points. (Photo by Henry Palattella the Kent Stater student newspaper and its sister website, KentWired.com.)

After 22 minutes, Kent State was at its high-water mark in its three games against MAC East champion Buffalo.

The Flashes had scored the first points of the second half and pulled within 32-31 of the Bulls, a team that had beaten KSU by an average of 34 points in two earlier meetings.

And the Buffalo’s defense took over.

Over the next eight minutes, the Bulls stole the ball 10 times and outscored KSU 24-2, then went on to a 72-50 victory in the MAC tournament semifinals.

Buffalo, the tournament’s second seed now with a 26-4 record, advanced to Friday’s semifinals to play sixth-seed Western Michigan, which upset No. 3 Ball State, 65-54.

The loss ends Kent State’s season with a 13-19 record.

“Defensively, they’re like sharks on blood,” coach Todd Starkey said in his postgame press conference. “They kind of sense that they have you and then they just swarm you.  They’re phenomenal at getting deflections to steals to points. They’re probably the best team in the MAC at turning your mistakes into immediate points.”

Buffalo scored a phenomenal (one of Starkey’s favorite words) 41 points off of 26 Kent State turnovers. The Bulls had 20 steals and committed just 13 turnovers themselves. Five of those came when reserves were playing in the fourth quarter.

In Buffalo’s earlier 80-42 and 81-51 victories over Kent State, the Bulls scored a total of 38 points off turnovers.

“There are certain teams that are just matchup nightmares for you, and Buffalo certainly was that for us this year,” Starkey said. “The way Buffalo really takes you out of your stuff. Our personnel makes it difficult.

“We played them closer than we did the first two games, but at the same time they’re just a better basketball team than we are.”

Jordan Korinek and McKenna Stephens, playing their last game in Kent State uniforms, each had 16 points. Stephens added 10 rebounds for a double-double. Korinek ends her four-year career with 1,786 points, fifth in school history.

Kent State started the game playing as well as it did when it upset Toledo 80-76 in overtime Monday. The Flashes led 16-14 after a quarter, shooting 50 percent from the field. Stephens had seven points and six rebounds.

But the Flashes made just 29 percent of their shots for the rest of the game against the Bulls, who lead the conference in field-goal defense.

“I thought we played our hearts out in the first half, but we couldn’t make some shots,” Starkey said.

Kent State outrebounded Buffalo, the MAC’s leading team, 11 to 4 in the quarter and 19-13 in the first half. For the game, Buffalo outrebounded the Flashes, 41-36.

In the first half, Stephens said, “We just weren’t playing scared. We were playing fast and aggressive, just like they were. We were scoring off of it, getting a offensive rebounds and putbacks.”

As Kent State pulled its four seniors — Korinek, Stephens, Naddiyah Cross and ZenobiaBess — in the last minute, Starkey gave each a long hug as they reached the bench.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Starkey, who guided the team to a MAC East title in his first season last year. “When I got here, I just asked them to trust me, that we would try to get things turned around.

“I asked them to change their mindset, to change to the expectation to winning rather than hoping to be in the game. They embraced that.”

Megan Carter is OK

Starkey said 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 gurney as a precaution for a possible head or spinal injury.

Carter’s injury came in the middle of Buffalos big third-quarter run. Both teams had to regroup while medical personnel treated her, with Starkey standing next to them.

“I think it’s kind of hard to be focused on what’s going on on the court and the game plan with tears in your eyes,” Starkey said. “So we’re looking at some of the players, saying, ‘Are you going to be okay? Are you going to make it?'”

Korinek and Stephens said that as seniors, they tried to steady their teammates.

“We have to try and keep the rest of the team focused and try to come out strong after a five-minute break of worrying about our teammate,” Stephens said. “We just tried to gather everybody together and push through it without Megan.”

On the Buffalo side, junior guard Cierra Dillard said, “You say a quick prayer and got back into the game.”

From Buffalo’s Stephanie Reid: “We obviously feel really bad for her, but it’s something that happens in the game. We had to keep the momentum that we had, and I think we did a good job of coming back on the court and not letting it affect us.  We pray for her recovery.”

Buffalo came out of the play stoppage for Carter’s injury with a press and scored the next 13 points.

Box score

Buffalo ends Kent State’s season with 72-50 win in MAC quarterfinals

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.

Box score

DETAILED STORY WILL FOLLOW, WITH QUOTES FROM STARKEY, KORINEK AND STEPHENS

Think winning at Toledo was hard? Next is 25-4 Buffalo in MAC quarterfinals

KSU in Cleveland

The KSU team at midcourt at practice at Quicken Loans Arena Tuesday. (Photo from Flashes’ Twitter feed.)

In his radio interview before Kent State’s surprise win in the MAC Tournament at Toledo on Monday, coach Todd Starkey ticked off things that had to happen for the Flashes to win:

  • Keep turnovers down.
  • Have two players in double figures besides leading scorer Jordan Korinek.
  • Follow the game plan on defense.
  • Shoot well.

Perhaps for the first time this season, the Flashes executed it all very well in their 80-76 overtime victory.

Now they have to do it again — against an even better team.

The Flashes play No. 2 seed Buffalo in the tournament quarterfinal at Quicken Loans Arena at about 5 p.m. Wednesday. Buffalo is 25-4 on the season, the best record in school history. They’re 20th in the latest RPI ratings, the highest a MAC team has ever been ranked this late in the season. They were 16-2 in the conference and beat Kent State twice by at least 30 points.

The Kent State plan will be the same.

THE TURNOVER STORY

The Flashes gave up 28 points off 18 turnovers in their 81-51 loss to Buffalo a week ago. Meanwhile, Kent State scored just nine off of 11 Buffalo turnovers. The Flashes have been last in the conference in turnovers and turnover margin most of the season,

Against Toledo, KSU had fewer turnovers than the Rockets (15-14) and scored more points off of them (15-13).

SCORERS BESIDES KORINEK

All season long, Kent State has been looking for scoring to complement Korinek, who is second in the MAC at 19.9 points per game. In Kent’s first game with the Bulls, Korinek had 22. No one else on the team had more than five in an 80-42 loss.

Against Toledo, Korinek had 21 points (16 in the fourth quarter and in overtime). But guards Megan Carter (24 points) and Naddiyah Cross (20 points) had two of their best games of the season.

FOLLOWING THE PLAN

When the Flashes lost to Buffalo a week ago, they were outscored 26-8 in the third quarter, many of the points on steals and fast breaks. After the game, Starkey grumped that his team didn’t follow the plan to limit such “live-ball turnovers.”

In both of their wins over Toledo this season, Kent State set out to mix up its defenses. On Monday, the Flashes played their base match-up zone, a 1-3-1 zone, a 2-3 zone and a man-to-man. Starkey praised his players for talking on defense, something they slip on when they’re playing poorly.

SHOOTING

In conference games, Kent State was 11th in the league in field goal percentage at 37.6 percent. In the two Buffalo losses, Kent State shot a combined 29.9 percent, including just 21 percent in Buffalo.

In Toledo, the Flashes made a season-high 48.3 percent of their shots. Key is the guards’ shooting. Korinek is ninth in the conference in field goal percentage at 51.7 in league play. Fellow forward McKenna Stephens makes 37.6 percent, and shot much better last season. No Kent State guard is above 35 percent. KSU is shooting just 25.2 percent from three-point distance, well below any other team in the league.

To make things even harder, Buffalo leads the MAC in field goal defense at 36.6 percent.

Three Bulls were named to the all-MAC second team announced Tuesday:

  • Junior guard Cierra Dillard, a transfer from Massachusetts who leads the team in scoring (14.5 points per game) and steals (2.8). She is second in assists (5.1, which would lead most teams) and three-point percentage (32.8). Dillard may be the biggest difference between last year’s Buffalo team, which finished second to KSU in the East, and this year’s division champion.
  • Senior center Cassie Oursler, a 6-3 player who is second in the MAC in blocked shots, including a number against Korinek when the teams played before. She averages 13.7 points and 7.2 rebounds. She had 19 points and 14 rebounds in just 18 minutes against Kent State on Feb.7.
  • Senior point guard Stephanie Reid, one of the best passers and defenders in the conference. She was a member of the MAC all-defensive team, averaging 2.5 steals per game, and makes 7.1 assists per game. She averages 11.2 points and leads the team in three-point shooting at 37.5 percent.

To follow the game

Action starts at about 5 p.m., or a half hour after the Miami-Ohio game ends.  Here are directions to Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland. Driving time is about an hour. There are lots of nearby parking garages and surface lots. A $10 ticket gets you into all of Wednesday’s games, which start with the Central Michigan-Eastern Michigan game at noon. All seats are general admission.

Video is on ESPN3. You can follow it online if your subscribe to ESPN on cable or by  satellite.

Audio starts at about 4:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio and WHLO.

Live statistics will be available through the MAC website.

Here’s the MAC’s Tournament Central, which includes the bracket, recaps of all games and box scores. Capsule previews of all of today’s games.

Preview from Kent State website, including links to statistics, roster, schedule/results, record book and more. Detailed game notes for the media.

Preview from the Buffalo website, including links. Detailed game notes.

MAC statistics

 

 

 

 

 

 

Korinek caps her historic career with a first-team all-MAC selection

Korinek and nephew

I could have run another action photo of Jordan Korinek. You’ve seen dozens. But instead, here’s a charming photo I snapped of her and her 1-year-old nephew after the Akron game. The son of Jordan’s other brother, he’s been to several games this season. It’s clear she dotes on him.

Kent State senior Jordan Korinek added one more honor to one of the greatest careers in school history when she was named to first-team all-MAC.

It completes a pretty progression for the woman from Cuyahoga Falls and St. Vincent St. Mary High School. She was honorable mention her sophomore year and second team last season.

Korinek will finish her career as the fourth- or fifth-leading scorer in school history, depending on how much she scores in her final games. She has 1,770 points so far, 29 behind Lindsay Shearer, another great student-athlete who played between 2002 and 2006.

Shearer was a two-time Academic All-American who graduated from the College of Education with a 3.96 average. Korinek was on the Academic All-America team last season; this year’s team will be announced later this spring Korinek is also an education major. Her GPA is 4.0.

Korinek is among KSU career leaders in field goals, field goal percentage, scoring average, free throws made, free throws attempted, free throw percentage and rebounds.

Her 618 points this season is fourth highest in Kent State history.

Here are all of the All-MAC honors, announced Tuesday:

Player of the Year: Tinara Moore, Central Michigan

Coach of the Year: Sue Guevara, Central Michigan. (I voted for Miami’s Megan Duffy, who took a team predicted to finish last in the MAC East and guided it to a 20-win season. Guevara’s CMU team was loaded; she did was she was expected to do.)

Freshman of the Year: Cierra Hooks, Ohio.

Those three awards are voted on by the media. Coaches vote on the rest.

Defensive Player of the Year: Tinara Moore, Central Michigan

Sixth Player of the Year: Oshlynn Brown, Ball State

2018 MAC Women’s Basketball All-MAC First Team

  • Presley Hudson, Central Michigan
  • Tinara Moore, Central Michigan
  • Jordan Korinek, Kent State
  • Lauren Dickerson, Miami
  • Courtney Woods, Northern Illinois

All-MAC Second Team: Moriah Monaco, Ball State; Cierra Dillard, Buffalo; Cassie Oursler, Buffalo; Stephanie Reid, Buffalo; Reyna Frost, Central Michigan.

All-MAC Third Team: Carmen Grande, Ball State; Danielle Minott, Eastern Michigan; Cierra Hooks, Ohio; Kaayla McIntyre, Toledo; Mikaela Boyd, Toledo.

All-MAC Honorable Mention: Courtnie Lewis, Eastern Michigan; Kendall McCoy, Miami; Kelly Smith, Northern Illinois; Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott, Toledo; Breanna Mobley, Western Michigan.

All-Defensive Team: Carmen Grande, Ball State; Stephanie Reid, Buffalo; Tinara Moore, Central Michigan; Cierra Hooks, Ohio; Mikaela Boyd, Toledo.

All-Freshman Team: Oshlynn Brown, Ball State;  Mikaela Kelly, Central Michigan; Courtnie Lewis, Eastern Michigan; Cierra Hooks, Ohio; Gabby Burris, Ohio.

‘A most unexpected victory’: Flashes beat Toledo in overtime to advance in tourney

Celly

KSU players (from left) McKenna Stephens (10), Alexa Golden (24), Jordan Korinek (35),  Naddiyah Cross (1) and Monique Smith (25) celebrate as the clock hits zero in their overtime victory at Toledo. (Photo by Henry Palattella, KentWired)

In the end, Kent State’s seniors didn’t want to go out on a dud.

Two days after their worst game of the season, the 10th-seeded Flashes came from 17 points behind to beat No. 7 Toledo in overtime, 80-76, and advance to the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament.

KSU will play 25-4 Buffalo, the second seed and MAC East champion, at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. (Exact time depends on when earlier games end.) Buffalo, which had a first-round bye, beat the Flashes twice during the regular season.

KSU senior forward Jordan Korinek overcame a miserable first half (one of five shooting and one rebound) to score 16 points in the fourth quarter. Her three-point basket with 47 seconds to go tied the game at 70.

“I couldn’t buy a basket,” said Korinek, the MAC’s second-leading scorer and the fifth-highest scorer in KSU history. “My teammates kept telling me, ‘Keep shooting.’

“In the back of my head, I kept telling myself, ‘Don’t go out like this. Don’t let your team go out like this.’ I kept pushing, and eventually the ball went in.”

Korinek finished with 21 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists.

48 hours earlier, it had looked as if the Flashes may have given up on the season. They scored a season low in a 58-35 loss at Miami. Coach Todd Starkey was so unhappy with his team’s effort that he pulled all five starters after three-and-a-half minutes. (They did return.)

“In my 21 years of coach, this may be one of the most unexpected wins based on where we were just a few days ago,” Starkey said in his postgame interview on Golden Flash Radio. “I thought they were done after the Miami game. It just looked like they didn’t have anything left.”

But Monday, he said, “My gosh, they played so hard. They executed, they listened. . . my gosh, they finally listened and executed the stuff that we were trying to run. Defensively they talked. They made the hustle plays.”

(All that is how Starkey consistently described the team’s struggles in its 5-13 conference season, which was eight wins worse than last year.)

“I’m so happy for our seniors,” Starkey said, “that we’re able to give them this last hurrah in Cleveland.”

Besides Korinek, the game’s heroes were two guards who had struggled mightily as Kent State lost seven of its last eight games.

Sophomore Megan Carter had 24 points and six rebounds. (“A fantastic game,” Starkey said.) Carter had made just 25 of 106 shots (23 percent) since Kent State beat Toledo in January. Wednesday Carter made eight of 17 shots.

Senior Naddiyah Cross had 20 points (three three-pointers), four rebounds, four assists and only one turnover while playing 44 of 45 minutes. She had been averaging 5.2 points a game and had only scored more than four points once since mid-January. Her total was four points off her career high.

“I was thinking, ‘I don’t want my career to end without me working hard,'” Cross said. “Coach keeps telling us, ‘Give it all you can.’ We just had one of our worst games. Our coaches have coached us much better than we’ve played, and we just wanted to show respect for everything that’s been given to us.”

Cross and Starkey said a key to the game was to not make it complicated.

“I said the whole game, ‘You don’t have to do spectacular things. You just have to do the simple things well over and over again.‘” Starkey said.

“Sometimes you try to make the fancy passes,” Cross said. “But against this team that’s so aggressive, we have to keep it simple.”

Every play is important in an overtime game, but here are three critical ones:

  • At the end of the third quarter, Carter grabbed a rebound with five seconds left, drove most of the court and hit a three-point shot at the buzzer.  “If she doesn’t make that, we go in down 13 and probably feeling sorry for ourselves, thinking, ‘Here we go again.'”
  • When Korinek hit her three-point basket to tie the game, it was just her 21st three-pointer of the year. She’s made 203 total baskets. “I was kind of shocked that I shot it,” Korinek said. “But it felt really good when it left my hand.”
  • After Toledo had scored to take a 72-70 lead with 4.8 seconds to go in regulation, Kent State called time and advanced the ball to the front court. As Cross in-bounded the ball, Carter circled around and cut down the opposite side for the foul lane. Cross loped a pass to her, Carter was fouled on the layup and made both shots to send the game to overtime.

So the Flashes avenged their loss to Toledo in the quarterfinals of last year’s MAC Tournament, the only game anyone on the KSU team has even played in Quicken Loans Arena. KSU was the third seed last year and had a bye into the quarterfinals.

This honestly feels better,” Korinek said, “having to work for it and getting the win as the underdog.”

Box score

Notes

  • Kent State’s record is now 13-18. Toledo ends the season at 17-14. It was the second time this season the Flashes had won at Toledo, the first a 62-55 game on Jan. 24. The last time before that Kent had won in Toledo was in 2007.
  • The win ended an eight-game losing streak in the MAC tournament for the Flashes.
  • Alexa Golden led Kent State with seven rebounds and had three blocked shots. She played 39 minutes on sore legs. (“Lex has played hurt all season,” Starkey said.)
  • Statistics were as even as you’d expect in an overtime game. Both teams had 33 rebounds and 34 points in the paint. Kent State made 48 percent of its shots, Toledo 46 percent. KSU scored 15 points off 14 Toledo turnovers. Toledo scored 13 off of 13 Kent turnovers.
  • Center Kaayla McIntyre led Toledo with 18 points. Mariella Santucci and Mikaela Boyd had 14 and Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott had 11. Bravo-Harriott, a four-year starter and one-time freshman of the year in the MAC, fouled out with 3:19 to go in the fourth quarter. McIntyre played the last seven minutes of the game with four fouls.
  • Toledo had an astounding 23 assists on 28 baskets, led by Bravo-Harriott’s seven. Kent State had 12 assists on 28 baskets.

Tournament results

In the other first-round games:

  • No. 9 seed Eastern Michigan (11-19, 6-12) beat No. 8 Northern Illinois (15-15, 7-11), 84-77 at Northern. Eastern Michigan will play No. 1 seed Central Michigan (25-4, 17-1) at noon Wednesday.
  • No. 5 Ohio (16-14, 9-9) beat No. 12 Akron (9-21, 3-15), 85-73 at Ohio. The Bobcats will play No. 4 Miami (20-9, 12-6) at about 2:30.
  • No. 6 Western Michigan (17-14, 9-9) beat No. 11 Bowling Green (11-19, 3-15), 85-71 at Western. WMU will play No. 3 Ball State (24-5, 13-5) at about 7:30 Wednesday.

MAC Tournament website, including bracket, recaps and box scores of all games, and link to ticket information.

Flashes beat Toledo in overtime to advance to MAC tourney quarterfinals

Down 53-36 with two minutes to go in the third quarter, Kent State came back to beat Toledo in overtime Monday, 80-76, to advance to the MAC Tournament quarterfinals at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Flashes will play second-seeded and East Division champion Buffalo at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. (Time depends on when earlier games end.)

The Flashes rallied behind 21 points by Jordan Korinek. The senior forward, the second-leading scorer in the MAC, had a miserable first half with just two points and one rebound. But she had 19 in the second half, including a three-point basket with 27 seconds to go in regulation to tie the game for the first time since the second quarter.

Guards Naddiyah Cross and Megan Carter carried the Flashes while Korinek was struggling. Carter had 24 points and Cross 20, both their second-highest totals of the season. Carter’s free throw with 47 seconds to go in overtime game Kent State a 77-76 lead. The Flashes played good defense and hit foul shots to win the game.

The victory game two days after perhaps Kent State’s worst game of the season, a 58-35 loss at Miami.

“In my 21 years of coaching,” KSU coach Todd Starkey said, “this may be be one of the most unexpected wins, based just 48 hours ago.”

Box score

DETAILED STORY, INCLUDING MORE QUOTES FROM STARKEY AND QUOTES FOR KORINEK AND CROSS, WILL FOLLOW

 

Flashes open MAC Tournament at Toledo, a team they beat in January

2018 bracketIt seems like forever since Kent State beat Toledo at Toledo on Jan. 24.

The score was 62-55, and there still seemed as if there were hope for the Flashes’ season. The victory was probably Kent State’s best of the season; at that point Toledo was 13-7 and had the 65th best RPI in the country. Kent State was 10-10, and the win put the Flashes at 3-5 in the conference. We thought it might be the start of the team playing up to its prediction of second place in the MAC East.

Alas, it was the high point of the Flashes’ conference season. Since then, Kent State is 2-8 and stuck in 10th place in the MAC.

Toledo hasn’t had a much happier time. Since that game, Toledo has been 4-6.

The two teams meet Monday in Toledo in the first round of the MAC Tournament. The winner will advance to play East Division champion Buffalo in the quarterfinals Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

Kent State and Toledo met in the quarterfinals of the tournament last season, and the teams were the hottest in the MAC. Kent State had won seven games in a row, Toledo eight of nine. The Rockets rallied from seven points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Flashes 67-63 and went on to win the tournament.

Both the Rockets and Flashes have four starters back from the teams that met last March. Toledo lost second-team all-MAC forward Janice Monakana. Kent State lost MAC player-of-the-year Larissa Lurken. It’s pretty clear which team adjusted better.

Toledo is led by 6-2 junior center Kayla McIntyre, who averages 16 points and 7.8rebounds a game. Junior guard Mikaela Boyd, just 5-7, averages 8.4 rebounds and 12.2 points, and senior guard Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott averages 12.6 points.

In that first game, Kent State held Toledo to 31 percent shooting and 21 percent from three-point distance in perhaps their best defensive effort of the MAC season.

Kent’s Jordan Korinek scored 30 points in that game to put her average above 20 points a game. It stayed there until Saturday, when she equaled a season-low eight points in KSU’s 58-35 loss last Miami. She now averages 19.9.

Saturday’s game was Kent State’s worst of the season. The Flashes’ 35 points were their lowest of the season; the team looked listless, tired and unfocused.

Toledo is also coming off a loss, but a good one if there is such a thing. The Rockets pushed first-place Central Michigan before falling in Toledo, 72-67.

Toledo consistently draws 3,000-plus fans to women’s games. The Rockets are 11-3 at home this season; Kent’s win in Toledo in January was first in Toledo since 2007.

Monday will be a tough task for the Flashes.

To follow the game

Action starts at 7 p.m. Here are directions to Savage Hall if you plan on going. It’s about a two-and-a-half hour drive.

Video is on ESPN3. You can follow it online if your subscribe to ESPN on cable or by  satellite.

Audio starts at about 6:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio only. The KSU men’s game will be on WHLO.

Live statistics will be available through the Toledo website.

Kent State website, including links to statistics, roster, schedule/results, record book and more.

Preview from the Toledo website, including links.

Conference-game only MAC statistics, including standings.

The tournament schedule

MONDAY

  • No. 9 seed Eastern Michigan (10-19, 6-12 in MAC) at No. 8 Northern Illinois (15-14, 7-11).
  • No. 12 Akron (9-20, 2-15) at No. 5 Ohio (15-14, 9-9).
  • No. 10 Kent State (12-18, 5-13) at No. 7 Toledo (17-13, 8-10).
  • No. 11 Bowling Green (11-18, 3-15) at No. 6 Western Michigan (16-14, 9-9).

WEDNESDAY at Quicken Loans Arena

  • Eastern Michigan-Northern Illinois winner vs. No. 1 Central Michigan (25-4, 17-1), noon.
  • Akron-Ohio winner vs. No. 4 Miami (20-8, 12-6), about 2:30
  • Kent-State Toledo winner vs. No. 2 Buffalo (25-4, 16-2), about 5.
  • Bowling Green-Western Michigan winner vs. No. 3 Ball State (24-5, 13-5), about 7:30.

Games start about a half hour apart. Here is a link to ticket information on the MAC website.

FRIDAY

  • Central Michigan game winner vs. Miami winner, 11 a.m.
  • Buffalo game winner vs. Ball State winner, about 1:30 pm.

SATURDAY

  • Champion game at 11 a.m.

All games are on ESPN3 except for the championship, which is on the CBS sports network.

 

 

In lackluster final regular-season game, Flashes fall at Miami, 58-35

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.”

Box score

Notes

  • 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.

Final MAC standings