Korinek, Lurken, help Flashes roll past Toledo


Kent State sophomore guard Alexa Golden drives to the basket against the Toledo Rockets defender on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Henry Palattella

The Kent State women’s basketball team’s 2015-2016 season was a stressful one to say the least, as the Flashes limped to a 6-23 overall record. Their dismal record wasn’t for lack of trying by junior forward Jordan Korinek or senior guard Larissa Lurken, however, as the pair finished the season averaging 15.6 and 13.9 points per game, respectively.  The pair received tangible validation for their efforts Saturday, as they combined to score 55 points in the Flashes (10-9, 4-3 Mid-American Conference) 70-60 victory over Toledo (13-6, 3-2 MAC).

“Really good win for us,” Kent State head coach Todd Starkey said after the game. “I think it’s been since 2010 that this program has beat Toledo, so (this was) another … good win for us.”

The Flashes made their presence known early in the victory, as they scored the first six points in the quarter which led them to a 20-8 advantage after one quarter of play. Lurken continued her stellar play early, as she scored 10 of her 22 points in the first quarter.

“I don’t think it was just me (who was upset after Kent’s loss to Northern Illinois),” Lurken said. “I think it just fueled us even more, honestly. We came out these last three games and really worked our tails off to win and not just come back.”

The Rockets were able to regroup to a point in the second quarter, as they ended up outscoring the Flashes 14-12 to cut their halftime deficit to 32-22. The Rockets went into the half 1-10 from three-point range, and their problems from behind the arc were only magnified as the game wore on. They finished 3-21 from three for the game.

The third quarter went according to plan for the Flashes, as they started the quarter off on a 14-8 run, and led 52-36 after the third. Korinek left her mark on the quarter, scoring 10 points.

The Rockets came into the third quarter on a mission, as they started it on a 17-6 run and were able to cut the Kent lead to seven with three minutes to play.

“At the end of the day, you know Toledo is not going away,” Starkey said. “We knew they were going to come at us. I thought we lost our minds a little bit but there for about five or six minutes, and consequently I lost my mind for five minutes, trying to get them to keep Toledo off the offensive glass and do what we need to do.”

The Flashes were able to adjust themselves down the stretch, however, thanks to free throws from junior guard Naddiyah Cross and Korinek, and the Flashes were able to escape with a win, which is something that not only has Starkey excited, but the rest of the team as well.

“We came into this year not wanting to be the conference doormat anymore,” Starkey said. “We wanted to be a team that people had to prepare for, and our goal for this season was to be …” Starkey said before trailing off and nudging the soft-spoken Korinek, as if to encourage her to finish the quote.

“The team no one wants to play when it comes to tournament time,” Korinek said.

The Flashes will be back in action next Wednesday when they travel to DeKalb to take on Northern Illinois. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

The game was followed by the much awaited announcement of Kent State’s “brand new game day.” The M.A.C. Center was filled with new banners and signs, which said things like “Home is where the heart is” and “Crash books, break glass.” The announcement began with a message by University President Beverly Warren, who spoke about her pride for students’ school spirit.

“About this time last year, we started a aggressive plan to tell our Kent State story more broadly than before,” Warren said in her address. “We have a great spirit, and more and more people are understanding why we say we are undeniably Kent State.

Banners then dropped in the middle of the court, along with a video that featured not only members of the Kent State basketball team, but also numerous shots of Kent State faculty and students. Once the video ended a new banner was also revealed above the student section that said “MACC maniacs.” 

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