Kent State cruises to 81-60 win over Southern Louisiana

Kent State junior guard Alexa Golden shoots a layup during the game against Florida Gulf Coast in Akron, Ohio, Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. [FILE]

Scott Lendak

After a tough loss against Florida Gulf Coast University, the Kent State women’s basketball team entered the game against Southeastern Louisiana with a chip on their shoulder.

Defensive chatter from Kent State echoed throughout the entire arena. 

“Ball. Switch. Hedge. Mine.”

The Lady Lions tried to counter with their own defense. They ran a full-court press they hoped would cause the Flashes to commit turnovers like they did against Florida Gulf Coast.

The Flashes were a different team Saturday. They executed the press-breaker to perfection as senior guard Naddiyah Cross cut up the middle of the floor to start the fast break and facilitated the offense through her teammates. 

They created easy layup after easy layup. When they didn’t finish the layup, they’d be at the free-throw line.  The Flashes shot 17 free throws in the first half. 

Senior forward Jordan Korinek led the Flashes in the paint as she tallied 17 points in the first half. Kent State outscored the Lady Lions in the paint, 40-10, for the game.

“It’s no secret that we want to play through Jordan,” coach Todd Starkey said. “Today we were able to be patient, get her the right touches and get her scores early. That opens everybody else up. Then we did a good job of attacking and get to the free-throw line.

Southeastern Louisiana sophomore guard Ashailee Brailey caught fire in the first half, racking up 12 points. The Flashes came back with a game plan for her in the second half, and she finished with just two points the rest of the way.

The Flashes slowed down the tempo in the first half. They did most of their damage in the paint, drawing fouls and sinking free throws.

In the fourth quarter, the Flashes were winning big and loosened up on the court while still executing.

“Can you please not dribble so I can get the assist?” McKenna Stephens joked to Korinek after an entry passed drew a foul.

“Our team jokes a lot that every time I get the ball I dribble so they don’t get any assists,” Korinek said. “But it was definitely a lot of fun out there playing coming off a loss. Being able to have a big lead today was fun.”

Stephens had 10 rebounds, contributing to the 46-22 rebound ratio in the Flashes’ favor.

Korinek finished with a career-high 31 points, doing most of her damage in the paint and at the free-throw line.

“I owe it a lot to my teammates,” Korinek said. “We looked to get the ball inside today because we had the advantage in height. Our guards were really focused on getting me the ball inside.”

Sophomore guard Ali Poole was the Flashes’ second leading scorer with 15 points.

“That’s my goal, to be a more dynamic player instead of being just a shooter,” Poole said. “We really just had to put the ball in Jordan’s hands though. She can score on most people so that’s the game plan when they guard her straight up.”

The Flashes went on to win in dominating fashion by a score of 81-60. Starkey still acknowledged the team has improvements to make.

“The scoreboard isn’t always an indicator of where you are,” Starkey said. “We played solid at times, but we also played sloppy at times. Our goal is to get more consistent. And a lack of consistency is something we’ve struggled with early on.”

The Flashes play again at 8:30 p.m. Thursday against Stanford as part of the Play4Kay Showcase in Las Vegas.

“It’s a good opportunity,” Poole said. “What do we have to lose? We’re not expected to win this game so we have to give them heck.”

Scott Lendak is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]