Kent State secures second place in MAC East

Alexa Golden, Sophomore point guard dribbles past the University of Miami defense in a game at the M.A.C. Center on Feb. 1, 2017. The Golden Flashes won 84 to 66.

Henry Palattella

At halftime of Kent State’s Tuesday tilt against Miami (OH), Kent State head coach Todd Starkey needed a minute. Starkey’s team was already in the process of shuffling off the court into the locker room, but the first-year coach elected to stay by the Kent State bench by himself, looking at the scoreboard, seeming baffled at his team’s slim 42-39 lead. Starkey’s befuddlement was understandable.

The Flashes only shot 42 percent in the first half compared to Miami’s 57 percent, and the only reason that the Flashes held their slim lead was due to the fact that they had ten offensive rebounds going into the break.

Whatever Starkey said to his team at halftime worked, as the Flashes (12-10, 6-4 Mid-American Conference), outscored RedHawks (7-15, 1-8 MAC) 23-9 in the third quarter, and eventually secured a 84-66 win.

The Flashes were once again led on offense by the duo of Korinek and star senior Larissa Lurken, who finished with 21 and 30, respectively. Korinek added in 12 rebounds to complete her third double-double of the season, while Lurken finished a perfect 12-12 from the free throw line.

The Flashes – who were playing in their first back-to-back home game since November — struggled throughout the first half, so much so that they found themselves down 27-24 with 7:40 left in the second quarter, which led to Starkey calling a timeout to get his team refocused.

“The last few days in practice I felt like we had kind of gotten to a point where we were hitting a little bit of a wall,” Starkey said. “We weren’t playing with the same kind of enthusiasm and we weren’t as connected as we had been.”

The Flashes went into halftime holding onto a slim 42-39 lead, but made many key halftime adjustments that led to them turning it around, as they outscored Miami 23-9 in the second half and quickly found themselves up 65-48 with one quarter to go.

“Our halftime adjustment (helped),” Korinek said. “We wanted to refocus on the defensive end, we weren’t talking in the first half. I think our defensive intensity helped us.”

The Flashes big lead proved to be vital for the team in more ways than one, as it gave Starkey a chance to get Lurken and other starters some important time on the bench as the game came to its end.

“We’re trying to find strategic points to give Lurken some rest because she’s averaging … closer to 38 minutes (a game) in conference play,” Starkey said. “We’re trying to find times during the game where we can use media timeouts or quarters to get extended rest.”

“I’ve been working with coach (Starkey) in film on playing early defense and being in the right position to not foul, so I think that that’s been helping me and making it a focus on mine not to foul,” Korinek said. 

The Flashes now hold sole possession of second place in the MAC East and are a game out of first place, as both University at Buffalo (15-6, 5-5 MAC) and Ohio University (16-5, 7-3 MAC) lost. The Flashes will travel to Buffalo on Saturday to take on the Bulls. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. 

Henry Palattella is the sports editor, contact him at [email protected]