Kent, OH -- The Kent State University women's basketball team shifted momentum in a flash to capture its season-opener on its hardwood. Opening the third quarter with defensive adjustments and a 15-0 run, the Golden Flashes (1-0) put the game out of reach to defeat Colgate, 76-71, at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center on Sunday.
"The third quarter was the key to the game," Kent State coach Danielle O'Banion said. "Our kids came out and played solid defensively and asserted themselves offensively."
Sophomore forward, Jordan Korinek spurred the third quarter run on a key offensive take, forcing Colgate's Josie Stockill to foul her under the basket. Stockill, who had been the Raider's biggest offensive threat to that point, exited the game with three fouls. After a perfect trip to the charity stripe, Korinek gave Kent State an advantage it didn't relinquish.
"It was really important for us to go to the kids that we trust the most," O'Banion said. "Jordan Korinek has the second most minutes played on this roster this year behind Larissa Lurken. We knew that Stockill had two fouls, and we wanted to get some high percentage shots to start the half and Jordan was able to really get busy in there."
Kent State took a 33-31 lead as its offense began to ignite and its defense honed in on the adjustments O'Banion made at halftime to exploit Colgate's weaknesses.
The Raiders dominated the Flashes in the paint over the first two periods, scoring 18-of-31 points inside. On the other end of the floor, the Flashes only scored 4-of-31 inside and shot an abysmal 26.5 percent from the field.
With their leading scorer on the bench to start the third quarter, the Raiders (0-1) were vulnerable, and it showed. Kent State extended their defense to force turnovers on top and moved to zone coverage inside to limit Colgate's attack in the paint.
"We really wanted to take advantage of their inexperience on the perimeter in terms of having ball handlers in the game," O'Banion said. "Last year they had a senior point guard who was difficult for us to manage. Just like us, they have some players stepping into bigger roles and different roles, and we felt like we could extend the floor defensively to try to get ourselves going and it worked out that way."
Following Korinek's foul shots, Naddiyah Cross got the ball on a breakaway and extended the score to 35-31 to match Kent State's largest lead of the game. Then Lurken put the Flashes ahead seven points with a three-pointer, and they never looked back.
Colgate finally scored for the first time in the second half around the 4-minute mark as Stockill entered the game. The senior forward worked the ball inside and picked up two points on a blocked shot.
Although the Raiders offensive production resumed with Stockill back on the court, they never recovered from the Golden Flashes unanswered 15 points to start the third period.
Colgate outscored Kent State 29-20 in the final period and closed the game to only five points over an uptempo fourth quarter, but the Flashes held them off long enough to capture the game.
Kent State never gave up its advantage in the second half. The last time it allowed Colgate to claim an edge was at 31-29 with 1:40 left in the second quarter.
The Raiders' largest lead of the game was early in the first when it commenced an 8-0 run to get ahead 8-3.
After its rocky start, Kent State recovered to build its biggest advantage early in the fourth — a 19-point cushion at 63-44.
Throughout the first half, the Golden Flashes suffered mainly from inconsistency in the paint, missing many easy baskets.
With the score knotted at 15-15 in the first quarter, Kent only had a 26.7 shooting percentage, while Colgate shot 43.8 percent from the field. The period ended on a Colgate 3-point attempt that went wide and allowed Kent to retain a narrow 19-17 edge.
The attempt reflected the theme of the quarter as the Raiders only shot 14.3 percent from 3-point range. The Golden Flashes, on the other hand, excelled and managed 60 percent accuracy from the arc.
On the game, Kent State enjoyed a 41.2 shooting percentage from the 3-point line, making 7-of-17. The Flashes also managed to recover their field goal percentage for an overall 37.3 percent accuracy by the end of the contest. They shot 48.5 percent in the second half to overcome their early inaccuracy.
"I thought that they (Colgate) made a good adjustment and went to a zone early on," O'Banion said. "They weren't gambling very much, but they were forcing us to think a little more than just run around. We just had to figure out where our shots were going to come against a zone. I thought our players did a better job of that a few possessions into it."
Paige Kriftcher finished the game as the high scorer with 25 points, scoring 13 in the fourth quarter for the Raiders. Stockhill also reached double figures with 20 points and neared a double-double with nine rebounds.
The Golden Flashes were lead by a quartet in double figures. Lurken finished the game as Kent State's high scorer with 23 points; Tyra James added 17 points, Alexa Golden totaled 10 and Korinek compiled 12 points and led the team in rebounds with eight.
Kent State will host Wright State on Tuesday at 11 a.m., while Colgate will travel to Cornell on Wednesday for an 8:30 p.m. tip-off.
"We're excited," O'Banion said. "Any day we can win is a really good day. I'm excited for our players because they worked extremely hard starting back on June 10th when they reported for summer school. It's always hard to reinforce that we're heading in the right direction if the scoreboard is not in our favor at the end of the game. This gives us some good bounce.
"We've got a big task on Tuesday with Wright State, so we needed to have a good result so we could show up tomorrow morning focused and ready to go get another one."