Central Michigan outlasts Kent State to continue MAC domination

Kent+State+senior+guard+Alexa+Golden+is+fouled+on+a+drive+to+the+basket+against+Detroit+Mercy+Thursday%2C+Nov.+30%2C+2017.+The+Flashes+won+the+game%2C+82-74.+%5BFILE%5D

Kent State senior guard Alexa Golden is fouled on a drive to the basket against Detroit Mercy Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. The Flashes won the game, 82-74. [FILE]

Cameron Hoover

Senior guard Cassie Breen (26 points on 7-for-12 three-point shooting) and senior forward Tinara Moore (21 points on 9-for-14 shooting and 14 rebounds) led the way as Central Michigan (13-3, 5-0 Mid-American Conference) continued its reign over Kent State Saturday with an 88-84 win.

After senior forward Jordan Korinek scored the first basket of the game to put the Flashes (9-8, 2-3 MAC) up, 2-0, Central Michigan never trailed again.

Kent State was down by nine points at halftime, mostly due to second chances for Central Michigan (11 first-half offensive rebounds) and turnovers (nine in the first half for Kent State, compared to the Chippewas’ five).

Turnovers have plagued the Flashes all season; the team entered Saturday’s contest with the second most giveaways in the MAC (276).

“One of the things that really hurt us were the offensive rebounds that led to direct scores,” said coach Todd Starkey. “That really was the difference in the game. I was kind of disappointed in that. And then there was a stretch in the fourth quarter where we had four or five straight turnovers in crucial possessions. You just can’t do that.”

Kent State clawed back in the third quarter, though, and a banked-in three-pointer from junior guard Alexa Golden pulled the Flashes within three points with 4:44 remaining in the period. After a timeout, however, one of Breen’s seven three-pointers and a converted and-one stretched the Chippewa lead back to nine, putting the game out of reach.

“I’m pleased with our effort,” Starkey said. “We played hard from start to finish. This is a difficult place to get a win. To be this close at the end and to have an opportunity, I’m pleased with, but I’m never happy with a result of losing.”

Five Central Michigan players finished with double-digit point totals.

“It seemed like when we took something away, they found someone else,” Starkey said. “That’s what good teams do.”

Central Michigan has now won their past seven contests against Kent State, dating back to Jan. 31, 2013. The Chippewas have dominated the MAC this season; Saturday’s win brings the team’s conference record to 5-0, with an average margin of victory of 15.2 points per game in those contests.

Dating back to the 2013-14 season, Central Michigan is 57-20 in MAC play, good for a 74 percent winning rate.

Korinek led the way for the Flashes with 28 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in the final seconds. She has now scored over 20 points in each of Kent State’s last five games.

Kent State sophomore guard Megan Carter broke out for the Flashes with a career-high 27 points after being held scoreless in the team’s last game, a 76-69 victory over Eastern Michigan. Forward McKenna Stephens, a graduate student, added 15 points and six rebounds.

For Central Michigan, junior point guard Presley Hudson added 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Junior forward Reyna Frost chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Moore’s double-double was her seventh of the season and the 32nd of her career. Her three blocks moved her into a tie for the most in Central Michigan history.

While many may see the narrow defeat on the road to one of the favorites to win the conference as a sign of progress for the Flashes, Starkey was frustrated by the lack of wins his team has found in close games.

“I’m tired of the commentary always being, ‘Man, they’re resilient. They keep fighting,’ and then coming up short against good teams,” he said. “I want to find a way to do the right things down the stretch and come up with a really good win against a really good team.”

The Flashes look to bounce back as they travel to face Bowling Green (8-7, 0-4 MAC) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Stroh Center.

Cameron Hoover is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]