Kent State drops high-scoring affair to Northern Illinois

Kent+State+sophomore+guard+Alexa+Golden+lays+the+ball+in+against+Northern+Illinois+University+redshirt+sophomore+forward+Renee+Sladek+at+the+M.A.C.+Center+on+Wednesday%2C+Jan.+11%2C+2016.+Kent+State+blew+a+10-point+fourth+quarter+lead+to+lose+97-98.

Kent State sophomore guard Alexa Golden lays the ball in against Northern Illinois University redshirt sophomore forward Renee Sladek at the M.A.C. Center on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2016. Kent State blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead to lose 97-98.

Henry Palattella

Coming into Wednesday’s game against Kent State, the Northern Illinois Huskies were averaging 90.6 points per game, which was good for the second highest total in the country.

That number grew by the end of the night, as the Huskies totaled 98 points in their 98-97 win over the Flashes (7-9, 1-3 MAC).

“I told (the team) that if this game is in the 80s or 90s, you’re going to need a heck of a lot of luck to win,” Kent State head coach Todd Starkey said after the game. “(Northern Illinois) wants to outshoot their opponents; they want to out-possession their opponents. We had more possessions than them. We just didn’t capitalize; we didn’t get stops on crucial possessions.”

The Flashes’ loss wasn’t for lack of trying on the offensive end, however, as they had four scorers finish in double-figures.

Senior guard Larissa Lurken led the way with 31 points, most of which came with her being double-teamed. Lurken was complimented by junior forward Jordan Korinek, who finished with 26 points, while senior McKenna Stephens and junior Naddiyah Cross rounded out the scorers in double-figures with 16 and 12, respectively.

Northern Illinois offensive prowess was on full-display early, as the Huskies went 12-17 (70.6 percent) from the floor in the first quarter, but still found themselves trailing 29-27.

A major reason for this was because of Kent State’s work on the glass, as the Flashes gathered 17 rebounds in the first quarter — 10 of which came on the offensive end.

“We knew they were going to shoot before we even played them,” Lurken said of the Huskies offense. “We didn’t do our job. We didn’t stop them, and we needed to in order to win.”

“We definitely wanted to play inside-out,” Starkey said of the Flashes’ offensive mind-set throughout the game. “(We’ve won games this year) by playing inside out. That’s how we beat Eastern Michigan.”

Both teams basically matched each other shot for shot in the second quarter, which led to Kent State holding a slim 54-53 lead at halftime.

However, the Huskies managed to only score 15 points in the third quarter on 5-17 shooting (29.4 percent,) while the Flashes scored 24 points on 11-20 (55 percent) shooting.

Three of those points came on a three-point play by senior Chelsi Watson in the waning seconds of the half, which gave the Flashes a 78-66 lead and sent the crowd in the M.A.C center into an uproar.

The Huskies grabbed the momentum at the start of the fourth quarter however, as they went on a 14-4 that ended on a three-pointer at the top of the key from freshman Janae Poisson.

The Flashes managed to secure a small 86-85 advantage with five minutes left in the quarter, but play was stopped abruptly for close to 10 minutes while the referees figured out an issue with the score-book.

“Both teams had to deal with (the delay)” Starkey said. “I don’t think either team had momentum at that point. You would think that might hurt them more instead of us.”

The Flashes were never able to find their footing after the break, and eventually found themselves down 98-95 with 11 second left. They were able to cut into that lead when Cross hit a lay-up with four second left that made it 98-97.

The Flashes were able to force a Northern Illinois turnover, but their lack of timeouts came back to bite them, as Starkey tried to draw up an inbounds play on the fly. It didn’t work, eventually leading the Huskies to stealing the ball and running out the clock.

“You can’t try and trade baskets with this team, we said that,” Starkey said. “For 40 minutes we tried to do that and it didn’t work in our favor.”

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