Flashes snap losing streak behind Korinek’s 17 free throws

Kent State senior forward Jordan Korinek, Ball State junior guard Carmen Grande and senior guard Frannie Frazier battle for a loose ball Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. Ball State went on to win, 79-58.

Ian Kreider

Kent State led wire-to-wire, and they never relinquished control, despite a less than ideal shooting performance in a hostile environment. Kent State handed Toledo its first conference home loss of the season (9-0 heading into tonight’s game) in a 62-55 defensive chess match.

Kent State (10-10, 3-5 Mid-American Conference) led, 27-25, at the half, despite Toledo (13-7, 4-4 MAC) having more rebounds, free throw attempts and a better shooting percentage.

The Flashes were able to push their lead to 41-35 heading into the final quarter. They were able to maintain the lead by making the best of their trips to the foul line. Korinek knocked down several clutch foul shots to push the game out of reach down the stretch.

Coach Todd Starkey said defensive effort was the difference in the game.

“We overcame our 18 turnovers by playing tough basketball,” Starkey said. “We outrebounded them and made the extra pass all night.”

The Rockets had two players in double-digits, and only one of them shot above 40 percent.

“We really tried to switch defenses a lot, and I thought that really threw them out of their rhythm,” Starkey said.

The Flashes shot 35 percent from the floor, but they held Toledo to just 32 percent on 17 more shot attempts. The Rockets shot 5-for-23 from the three-point range — oftentimes, early in the shot clock or in transition.

Kent State attempted 20 more foul shots than Toledo and made 30 of its 38 free throws.

Senior forward Jordan Korinek had 17 of her game-high 30 points from the line; she also added 11 rebounds and two steals.

“She did a really good job not turning the ball over (two turnovers), especially with the amount of touches she had tonight,” Starkey said.  

The Flashes are 4-2 when Korinek scores 25 points or more with both losses coming by four or less points. She was one of two Flashes in double-digits; the other was graduate student forward McKenna Stephens. She added 10 points on 3-for-5 shooting, while adding three points from the charity stripe.

“We talked about getting better and finding our rhythm again,” Starkey said. “Hopefully, this game will give us confidence moving forward. It has been a tough road stretch, and we have another road game coming up.”

Kent State snapped its three-game losing streak, winning on the road for the first time since Dec. 30 and for the first time in general since Jan. 10 against Eastern Michigan.

The Flashes will continue their season on Saturday, Jan. 27, in Akron as they take on the Zips (6-13, 0-8 MAC) at James A. Rhodes Arena.

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