Flashes second-half struggles lead to Buffalo stampede

Kent+States+Jordan+Korinek+goes+up+for+a+shot+in+the+final+home+game+of+her+career+on+Feb.+28%2C+2018.+The+Flashes+lost%2C+81-51.

Kent State’s Jordan Korinek goes up for a shot in the final home game of her career on Feb. 28, 2018. The Flashes lost, 81-51.

Ian Kreider

Kent State knew heading into Wednesday’s game against Buffalo that protecting the ball and slowing the game down were two things it had to do in order to keep the game close.

In the first half, the Flashes were successful. They had eight turnovers, but they limited Buffalo to just four fastbreak points.

The Flashes also shot the ball well. They finished the first half shooting 12-for-25 from the field, including a layup by senior Zenobia Bess at the horn to cut the Bulls lead to 36-28 at the half.

However, the second half was a different story. The Bulls had about a two-minute stretch where they went on a 7-0 run. This run led to a timeout by Kent State, during which an upset coach Todd Starkey met his players at half court. He was assessed a technical foul, which then pushed the Bulls lead to 49-33 after senior guard Stephanie Reid knocked down the pair of foul shots.  

This put the game out of reach, as Buffalo (24-4, 15-2 Mid-American Conference) cruised to a 81-51 over Kent State (12-17, 5-12 MAC).

Kent State turned the ball over 10 times, which Buffalo capitalized on for 13 of its 45 second-half points.

“In the third quarter, the most important stat that we talked about in preparing for this game was not turning the ball over to their layups,” Starkey said. “We just beat ourselves, and it’s been an ongoing theme all year.”

The Flashes also couldn’t score with the same second-half efficiency as in the first half. They shot just 7-for-30 from the field (1-for-11 from behind the arc). Buffalo on the other hand shot 17-for-30 from the field, accumulating 10 fast break points and 24 points in the paint.

“Our margin for error today was paper-thin,” Starkey said. “They exposed all of our weaknesses.”

The Bulls, as teams have been doing all season, focused solely on Kent State senior forward Jordan Korinek. They limited her to just 14 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Anytime she touched the ball, she was surrounded by two, sometimes three, defenders. The rest of the team shot just 34 percent.

“We practice shooting every single day; we’ve just got to knock down shots,” Starkey said. “We had finishes at the basket we didn’t finish. We had open jump shots we missed. At the end of the day, players have to make plays. I can’t go out there and shoot the ball for them.”

The Flashes had very similar struggles the last time they played Buffalo. The team combined to shoot just 13-for-62, turning the ball over 14 times.

“It’s a frustrating thing to prepare for a game and have a game plan in line and then, just before you can even get to execute a play, you’re turning it over and they’re laying it in,” Starkey said.

Kent State looks to finish its regular season on a high note Saturday as it travels to Oxford to take on Miami (OH). Tip-off is at 1 p.m. at Millett Hall. The last time these two teams met, the Redhawks left the M.A.C. Center with a 65-59 win.

Ian Kreider is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]