Women’s basketball manages win despite sloppy performance


Kent State then-sophomore forward Jordan Korinek attempts a layup against Toledo during the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Kent State lost 67-63.

Scott Lendak

As the Kent State women’s basketball players prepared for the season opener, they knew they had something to prove: Last year wasn’t an accident. 

They tried to show that on the road against Northern Kentucky.

The Flashes won, 59-54, despite allowing 17 offensive rebounds and committing 12 first-half turnovers.

Coach Todd Starkey delivered a “spirited” halftime speech after the Flashes fell behind, 34-25, to a Northern Kentucky team that finished 9-22 last season. 

“I was disappointed that we came out and had a look on our face the whole first half like, ‘What’s going on here? We should be in this game,’” Starkey said. “Well, when another team outworks you, you don’t deserve to be in the game.”

That’s what good teams do. They find a way to win games they are supposed to win, even if it is less than impressive.

With Larissa Lurken gone, the Flashes needed someone to step up offensively. Senior forward Jordan Korinek accepted the challenge. 

She scored a career-high 29 points, going 8-15 from the field.

With just over two minutes left, the Flashes wanted to get the ball inside to Korinek. When the initial pass was deflected, Korinek gathered the ball and found herself at the three-point line.

She glanced at the play clock as it winded down and took the shot from three-point range, a distance she only converted from 10 times the entire season last year.

Korinek watched the ball leave her hand and ultimately go in the basket without hitting the rim.

The shot proved to be the final blow for Northern Kentucky after the Flashes sealed it at the free-throw line.

Sophomore guard Ali Poole was the only other Flash in double digits with 12 points.

The Flashes were down by 10 points in the third quarter, but allowed just 20 points in the second half to fuel the comeback. 

“I think our focus and intensity kind of picked up,” Korinek said. “Coach got on us at halftime. We were not giving enough effort on the court. In the second half, we found a way to be a little tougher and grit the win out.” 

Effort was a big reason why the Flashes got off to a slow start. Northern Kentucky, the much smaller team, outrebounded Kent State 46-31.

“Their undersized post players outworked us in the first half,” Korinek said. “We have to fix that going forward though because we play teams in the future with bigger, more athletic girls. So we have to fix the rebounding situation.” 

Freshman forward McKenna Stephens highlighted the Flashes on the boards with eight rebounds.

Senior guard Naddiyah Cross recorded six assists and four steals for Kent State.

Despite the win, Starkey let his team know that he was not happy with their effort and performance.

“I thought they outhustled us the whole game,” Starkey said. “We had some spurts where we outworked them a little bit, but for the most part I really thought they gave better effort than we did. That’s a little bit disappointing.”

The Flashes (1-0) will take on Youngstown State on the road at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Beeghly Center.

“We’re playing a really good Youngstown State team next,” Starkey said.  “They are much improved from last year. The schedule is unforgiving so you have to bring maximum focus and intensity into every game.”

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