In MAC West, Central Michigan, has won 4 straight after 3 opening losses

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Yesterday we gave you an overview of the MAC and its East Division. Today it’s the MAC West.

Central Michigan (4-3). RPI 104. Power rating 74.

CMU, two-time defending MAC champions, lost its first three games to very good teams — Green Bay (5-4, RPI 60), No. 7 Louisville (9-1, RPI 5) and Western Kentucky (7-2, RPI 28). Since then the Chippewas have won four in a row against somewhat lesser competition, the best being Marist (5-2, RPI 103).

Central lost all-MAC players Presley Hudson and Reyna Frost to graduation and coach Sue Guevara to retirement. But junior guard Micaela Kelly is playing like an all-conference guard for new coach Heather Oesterle, averaging 20.4 points a game. Forward Kyra Bussell is seventh in the league in scoring at 15.3 points a game.

In the next three weeks, Central will play South Dakota State (6-4, RPI 67),  Bethune-Cochran (6-1, RPI 193) and Central Florida (4-4, RPI 98). All those teams look to be the caliber of the MAC’s first division.

Ball State (4-4). RPI 130. Power rating 104.

The Cardinals have a 2-3 record against five teams in the RPI top 100.  Their win over Butler may be the league’s second best (after Ohio’s win at Ohio State.) Games against Providence (7-1, RI 62) and New Mexico (6-3, RI 109) in the Lobo Invitational before Christmas will tell us how good they are.

Ball State has the best field goal defense (36.5%) and the third best scoring defense (63.3) in the league. Junior forward Oshlynn Brown has the third highest field goal percentage (55.6) and is the second leading rebounder (9.5 per game) in the conference.

Western Michigan (4-3). RPI 223. Power ranking 241.

The three Division I teams the Broncos have beaten have a combined record of 3-24. The three teams they’ve lost to have a combined record of 20-6. After exams, they play Chicago State (0-10), Stony Brook (7-1) and Loyola Chicago (8-0). The only non-conference team WMU plays that’s close to its level is Denver (4-4, RPI 299) in the Puerto Rico Classic. It’s hard to get an overall impression from that.

The Broncos have forward Brianna Mobley back from injury. She’s one of the MAC’s best post players, leading the league in rebounding (10.3 per game) and ranking 17th in scoring (12.7). Redshirt sophomore guard Jordan Walker, who like Mobley missed all last season, is averaging 14.6 points per game. Junior forward Leighah-Amori Wool is fourth in the MAC in rebounding (8.4 per game).

Northern Illinois (3-5). RPI 161. Power ranking 196.

The Huskies have lost three close games to good teams — six points to Harvard (7-3, RPI 124), three points to Illinois Sate (5-2, RPI 27) and five points to Purdue (7-2, RPI 25). They also won two games in overtime to teams that are a combined 4-15 and lost to Milwaukee (2-6, RPI 172) by 13. So here’s another team we don’t know quite what to make of.

NIU has preseason all-MAC forward Courtney Woods back from an injury that sidelined her for most of last season. She’s averaging 18.4 points. The Huskies also had four starters back, but none is averaging in double figures.

The Huskies, who averaged 85 points two years ago and 73 last season, are scoring 66.4 this year.

Toledo (2-5). RPI 272, Power ranking 174.

If I had had to guess the MAC team with the worst RPI at this point in the season, it certainly wouldn’t have been Toledo. But here the Rockets are, tied for the fewest wins in the conference. All of their losses have come to teams with winning records and RPIs between 110 and 160 — except for a three-point defeat at Notre Dame (5-7, RPI 73).  Four of the five losses have been by fewer than eight points. So the Rockets are another team that might be better than their record.

The Rockets lost last season’s two best players to graduation and haven’t really found replacements. Toledo doesn’t have a player in the MAC’s top 25 scorers or top 15 rebounders. Nakiah Black averages 10.4 points; point guard Mariella Santucci averages 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists.

Eastern Michigan (3-6). RPI 195. Power ranking 246.

The Eagles have played one of the MAC’s toughest schedules — 11th most difficult in the country by one measure I saw. They lost by more than 30 points to No. 19 Michigan State and No. 24 Michigan and four other games by an average of 14. Their best win is against Southeast Missouri (4-2, RPI 162) by five.

Oklahoma State transfer Areanna Combs, a 5-10 junior guard, played her first game Dec. 1 and has averaged 19 points, including 29 in an 11-point loss at 8-0 Binghamton. With her in the lineup, the Eagles also lost by 11 to 5-3 Wichita and beat 3-8 Purdue Fort Wayne by 24. Freshman guard Aaliyah Stanley averages 13.1 points.

MAC statistics, including standings.

RPI rankings are from WarrenNolan.com.

Power rankings from Omni Rankings.

 

 

 

MAC women’s rankings look even cloudier after first 8 non-conference games

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Ohio was the clear favorite to win the Mid-American Conference women’s championship this season. The next best teams were pretty unclear.

After eight or so non-conference games for league teams, it’s even more unclear. 

With almost all MAC schools on break this week for students to take finals, it’s a good time to take stock of the MAC.

Ohio is 6-2 with the league’s only marquee win, a six-point victory over Ohio State in Columbus. But Ohio has only the third highest RPI in the conference. Kent State and Buffalo rank better.

The league doesn’t look as strong as it’s been for the last two years, when it ranked eighth in the country. By most rankings I’ve seen, the MAC is about 11th this season.

Just Kent State (65th) and Buffalo (88th) are in the top 100 in the RPI rankings of WarrenNolan.com,the service I used most. Central Michigan (102), Ohio (106) and Bowling Green (111) are fairly close.

At the end of last season, the MAC had six teams in the top 100, led by Buffalo (26), Ohio (31 and Central Michigan (35).

RPI is based 25% on a team’s record, 25% on its opponents’ record and 50% on its opponents’ opponents’ record. Road wins and home losses are weighted more heavily. There are 351 Division I teams.

Omni Power rankings, which takes into account other factors like recent results and margin of victory, also has two MAC schools in the top 100 — Central Michigan at 74th and Ohio at 77th. (Kent State is 150th behind Ball State, Bowling Green and Buffalo).

Only Buffalo (7-2), Ohio (6-2) Kent State (5-3), Bowling Green and Central Michigan (both 4-3) have winning records.

The league’s non-conference record is 48-45 against Division I competition, a 51.6 winning percentage; last season it was 87-41 —70.0%. Two years ago it won 65% of its non-conference games.

Surprise teams?

Buffalo is better than expected, considering graduation losses. The Bulls have the best freshman in the conference — Dyaisha Fair, who is second in the country in scoring.

Bowling Green was picked last in the MAC East and is 4-3 and has shown a pretty potent offense. But the Falcons haven’t beat a really good team yet. Ball State is 4-4 with wins over Butler (6-3) and Lehigh (6-2) and losses of less than 12 points to Cincinnati (5-4), Wisconsin (6-3) and Western Kentucky (7-2).

Surprise teams in a disappointing way are Toledo, which is 2-5 after being picked third in the West, and Northern Illinois, 3-5 after being picked in a virtual tie with Central Michigan.

Most teams have three or four non-conference games left. Ohio plays at TCU (7-1, RPI 27) and Texas (5-4) next week. A win or two would be impressive. Central Michigan  plays South Dakota, Belmont, Bethune Cookman and Central Florida, all good mid-majors. Almost every other team plays at least one strong team; some upsets could shake things up and boost the league’s overall RPI ranking.

Here’s a look at the MAC East. MAC West post is here.

Buffalo: 7-2. RPI 89. Power ranking 114.

The Bulls lost the MAC’s leading scorer, Cierra Dillard, and have replaced her with the MAC’s new leading scorer, freshman DyaishaFair. She’s averaging 23.4 points per game. Senior forward Theresa Onwuka is averaging 18.8 points per game.

The Bulls’ schedule makes it hard to figure how good they are. The best team they’ve beaten is Drexel, which is 5-4 with an RPI of 65. They lost at No. 1 Stanford by 19 points.

Wild card for the Bulls is the status of Summer Hemphill, one of the best best post players in the conference. She hasn’t played at all because of an injury.

Ohio: 6-2. RPI 108. Power ranking 77.

The Bobcats are picked to win the MAC. After just missing the NCAA tournament last season, they scheduled a much tougher schedule. So far they’ve lost to Syracuse of the ACC and beaten Ohio State. They’ve lost fairly close games to Syracuse and Butler, both good teams. How they do against TCU and Texas may tell us if Ohio is a national-caliber team.

OU has the league’s best scoring defense at just 58.9 points per game, best 3-point defense at 25.4% and second-best field-goal defense at 37.4%.

The four starters returning from last season — senior guard Amani Burke, junior guard Cece Hooks, sophomore wing Erica Johnson and junior forward Gabby Burris — all average in double figures.

Kent State: 5-3. RPI 66. Power ranking 150.

The Flashes have beaten five mid-majors of varying quality and lost to three Big Ten teams that are in the top 40 in RPI rankings. They’ve added freshmen Nila Blackford (8.3 rebounds per game) and Katie Shumate (6.0 rebounds) to the starting lineup, and they are KSU’s top two rebounders.

Kent State has struggled on defense — its field goal defense of 47.2% is last in the league by three percentage points, but its last two games have shown improvement. KSU is averaging 72.4 points per game, more than seven points about last season.

All five starters average in double figures.

Bowling Green: 5-3. RPI 110. Power ranking 112.

The Falcons lead the MAC in points per game (79.5), field goal percentage (47.2), 3-point percentage (41.2),  and rebounding margin (plus-7.5). They have the league’s leader in shooting percentage — 6-2 junior center Angela Perry  at 72.3%  and in 3-point percentage — junior Madison Parker at 51.2%.

But the best team BG has beaten is Cleveland State, which has a 7-1 record but an RPI of 152. They’ve lost to Valparaiso (4-3, RPI 107), Green Bay (5-4, RPI 59) and San Francisco (5-4, RPI 95).

Bowling Green plays at Loyola-Chicago (8-0, RPI 64) and at Purdue (7-2, RPI 24) later in January.

Akron: 4-4. RPI 169. Power ranking 159.

The Zips beat 5-3 Youngstown State and played well against No. 24 Michigan, losing 80-71. But the other teams they’ve beaten — St. Bonaventure, Purdue Fort Wayne and Detroit Mercy — have a combined two wins against Division I competition. They’ve lost three in a row to Cleveland State (7-1, RPI 152), Duquesne (8-2, RPI 112) and Butler (6-3, RPI 78).

Their plus-4.1 turnover margin is third in the MAC; their field goal defense of 44% is second worst. Junior college transfer Jordyn Dawson, a 5-11 forward, is fifth in the conference in field goal percentage (48.8) and fifth in steals (2.4 per game). Senior forward Haleigh Reinoehl is fifth in the league in rebounding at 7.9 per game.

Miami: 4-5. RPI 154. Power ranking 162.

Returning stars Lauren Dickerson (17.2 points per game) and Savannah Kluesner (12.8 points, 8.2 rebounds) have played well, and Redhawks have added freshman guard Peyton Scott, who averaged 27.4 points in high school and is averaging 12.8 in college.

But Redhawks’ only victory against a team with a winning record is against Eastern Kentucky (5-3, RPI 201). They’ve lost to No. 16 DePaul by 19, No. 25 Miami of Florida by 18 and Cincinnati (5-4, RPI 146) by 30. Miami is last in the league in field goal percentage (36.6) and 10th in field goal defense (43.4).

Link to the MAC West rundown.

MAC statistics, including standings

 

Good 2nd half can’t overcome bad 2nd quarter as Flashes fall to Purdue 77-64

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Asiah Dingle came out of a three-game slump to lead Kent State with 16 points. Thirteen came in the second half on six-of-11 shooting. She also had three assists and a steal against one turnover, her low for the season.

Four minutes at the end of the second quarter cost Kent State a chance at an upset at Purdue Sunday.

The Flashes missed eight of their last nine shots in the quarter. Purdue made four of five, including a three-quarter-court shot at the buzzer. That shot ended an 11-2 run and gave Purdue a 38-24 halftime lead.

Kent State played perhaps its best basketball of the season in the second half, outscoring Purdue 40-39. But the Flashes never got within eight points. Final score was 77-64.

“We’re really proud of our second half,” associate head coach Fran Recchia said in her postgame radio interview with David Wilson. “That second quarter, though. If we could take that one back and replay it, that would be great.”

It was the best of Kent State’s three games against Big Ten teams. Its loss to Ohio State was 75-65, but the closer margin came because the Flashes outscored OSU 25-12 in the fourth quarter. Earlier the Flashes had lost to Michigan 88-53.

KSU is 5-3 as it takes a 10-day break for final exams. Purdue is 7-2.

Kent State missed 12 of 16 shots in the second quartet and 11 of 16 in the first.

A lot of that was layups,” Recchia said. “We got some great looks.

“It’s been a point of emphasis in practice, and i think it’s something where we just have to get better. We have a lot of downhill drivers, and we have to be able to capitalize on that.”

Some of the Flashes’ problems finishing at the basket were due to Purdue’s defense, which features Ae’Rianna Harris,  two-time defensive player of the year in the Big Ten.

“We’re not going to see another team with that type of length the rest of the season,” Recchia said.

In the second half, KSU made 48.4% of its shots. It was led by Asiah Dingle, whose main game is driving to the basket. She scored 13 of her 16 points in the second half.

Purdue junior guard Karissa McLaughlin proved to be the weapon Kent State couldn’t blunt. McLaughlin was first-team all-Big Ten as a sophomore but had struggled in the Boilermakers’ first seven games. In her last three games, she made just six of 31 shots and two of 16 three-pointers. For the season, she was shooting below 30% and averaging 8.8 points a game.

Sunday she made nine of 15 and six of 10 from 3-point distance. She added 10 of 10 free throws to finish with a career-high 34 points.

Two buzzer-beating shots were especially bruising for Kent State. A KSU shot seemed to brush the rim at the end of the first half, but the officials ruled it didn’t and called a shot-clock violation. Purdue got the ball with 0.5 seconds to go; Kent State didn’t guard the inbounds play, and McLaughlin sent a 70-foot shot cleanly through the net.

At the end of the third quarter, McLaughlin hit another 3-pointer as time expired when Kent State had cut Purdue’s lead to 52-43.

Kent State got to the score to 60-52 with 4:42 to go on a jumper by reserve forward Sydney Brinlee. But McLaughlin made 10-straight foul shots in the last two-and-a-half minutes.

Box score 

Lots of fouls

Both teams struggled with foul trouble. Thall picked up two in the first six minutes and played only nine in the first half. She eventually fouled out. So did Dingle. Nila Blackford, KSU’s leading scorer and rebounder going into the game, had four fouls.

Blackford and Thall’s foul problem meant lots of playing time for reserves Brinlee and Monique Smith. Both played some of their best basketball. Brinlee had five points, including a 3-point basket, and two rebounds in 13 minutes. Smith also played 13 minutes, which I think was a career high. Her four points tied a career high, and she also had three rebounds.

Purdue’s Harris, the all-Big Ten player, was limited to 21 minutes by her three fouls. She had five rebounds, four below her average, and didn’t block a shot. She already has blocked more shots than anyone in team history. She scored 12 points.

Purdue’s leading scorer, Dominique Oden, had four fouls and didn’t score in 14 minutes.

Overall Kent State committed 23 fouls, Purdue 20. The Boilermakers outscored KSU 21-10 from the foul line. Kent State has won every game this season when it has made more free throws than its opponent and lost every game when it made fewer.

 

Notes

  • Thall had 11 points and made three 3-point baskets. Megan Carter had 10 and a career-high nine rebounds. Blackford, who had a total of 51 points in KSU’s two previous games, had eight, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and two steals. Katie Shumate had seven rebounds and three blocked shots to go with six points.
  • Purdue came into the game 15th in the country in blocked shots, averaging 5.6 per game. But Kent State blocked six to the Boilermakers’ two.
  • Purdue made 45.3% of its shots, by far the lowest of the three Big Ten teams KSU has played. Both Michigan and Ohio State shot better than 55%. Purdue’s percentage actually is the third best Kent State has done on defense. Still, Purdue’s 77 points were its most of the season.
  • Kent State had assists on its first five baskets, then only four for the rest of the game. KSU coach Todd Starkey said early this week he wanted his team to average at least 14. Purdue had 20 assists on 24 baskets.
  • Purdue had 35 rebounds, Kent State 34 rebounds. The Flashes had 15 offensive rebounds, led by four by Blackford and Carter. Purdue had 10 offensive rebounds.
  • Recchia said to get in the mood for the game, the team watched the movie “Hoosiers” on the bus as it road across Indiana.
  • Attendance was 5.585, largest crowd to see KSU play this season.

Kent State is off this week for finals week and plays next at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic Dec. 19 and 20. The Flashes will play two teams from the Sun Belt Conference — Georgia Southern (2-5) and Troy (5-2). Troy’s losses have come to Mississippi State and Duke.

The view from Purdue

From the Journal & Courier, the West Lafayette newspaper

Coach Sharon Versyp on Karissa McLaughlin’s 70-foot basket at the end of the first half:

“They (Kent State) weren’t even up. They were just standing on the sideline, so I’m like, ‘Just grab it and heave it.’ That was huge.”

Purdue guard Cassidy Hardin, on that basket:

“I was like, ‘No, you’re going to make it; I know you are’ and she did.’ think going to the locker room, it let us relax.”

McLaughlin on Purdue scoring 70 points for the first time this season:

“Before we were going back to our old ways of just walking the ball up the floor and not getting points in transition. I think we got more of that today.”

Versyp on the win:

“We need this. We needed to score. It was nice to see our young kids step up and do some really good things and score the ball in a variety of different ways.”

It was Versyp’s 400th win as a head coach. The Boilermakers gave her a brief water cup shower in the locker room, the Journal and Courier reported.

“It wasn’t a very good one,” Versyp said, smiling.

Sunday foe Purdue may be good as 1st Big Ten teams that beat Flashes

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Sophomore guard Hannah Young started her first college game Tuesday against St. Bonaventure and scored five points in 15 minutes. She’s been Kent State top reserve so far this season, especially in the last five games. She’s made eight of her 11 shots. 

Kent State ends its three-game Big Ten season Sunday.

It hasn’t gone well so far. The Flashes lost to Michigan by 35 points on Nov. 15 and by 10 to Ohio State on Nov. 17 in a game that looked that close because of a 3-point KSU barrage in the fourth quarter.

Their third game is at Purdue at noon Sunday. (That’s both Ohio and Indiana time. I previously incorrectly thought and reported Indiana was on Central time.)

The Flashes didn’t get any easy ones when they scheduled three Big Ten Teams for the first time in KSU history this season.

  • Purdue is 6-2 with losses only to No. 18 Gonzaga (8-1) and Virginia Tech (7-1). The Boilermakers beat Drake and Arizona State, both 6-2, in the Gulf Coast Showcase before losing to Gonzaga in the finals. With Thursday’s loss to Virginia Tech, they’ve lost two in a row.
  • Ohio State is 5-3. It lost to MAC favorite Ohio University at home Nov. 17. But on Thursday, the Buckeyes beat No. 2 Louisville in Columbus.
  • Michigan is 7-1 and ranked 24th in the country. Its only loss was by four points to Notre Dame. Its best win was probably its 84-76 overtime victory over Syracuse Thursday.

Every team in the Big Ten has a winning record. Eleven have lost no more than two games. Twelve of the league’s 14 teams are in the Top 75 in the RPI, a rating system that takes into account its record and strength of schedule. Schools have played enough games so that the RPI is starting to mean something.

Ohio State is ranked ninth in RPI by WarrenNolan.com, one of the rankings I use most. Nolan has OSU’s schedule as the toughest in the country so far. Michigan’s RPI  is 32nd and Purdue 44th.

Kent State (5-2) is 69th, which is highest in the MAC. Buffalo has the best record in the MAC at 6-2, but its schedule strength is rated at 187, way below Kent State’s 75. Ohio is al 5-2 with an RPI of 124 and a schedule strength of 230. (I’d take all of those ratings with very large grain of salt at this point.)

We’ll do a big piece on rankings during Christmas break.

But today’s topic is Purdue, one of the better defensive teams in the country. HerHoopStats, an analytics site, ranks the Boilermakers 28th overall defense. (By comparison, the site ranks Ohio State 14th and Michigan 34th.) Purdue’s opponents are shooting 32.5% from the field and 25% from 3-point distance.

The Boilermakers don’t score a lot — just 62.2 points a game, but their opponents score even less — 55 points, 28th best in Division I.

Kent State does the opposite. The Flashes are scoring 73.6 points a game, their highest in more than 15 years, and giving up 73.9. The defensive number is 299th among the 351 Division I teams. KSU opponents are making 47.5% of their shots, 340th of 351 teams.

Purdue makes 42.5% of its shots. So the game likely will come down to whether Kent State’s defense can do its best work of the season against Purdue’s offense. The Flashes are coming off their best defensive game of the season, an 81-58 trouncing of St. Bonaventure. But the Bonnies are 1-7 and probably the second-worst team the Flashes have faced.

Can Kent State’s offense score on a Big Ten team? The record so far isn’t optimistic. The Flashes played a total of two good quarters against Michigan and Ohio State. They led Michigan 16-12 after one quarter and outscored the Buckeyes 25-12 in the fourth quarter. Outside of that, KSU has been outscored 140-77.

Purdue’s best players

  • 6-1 senior forward Ae’Rihanna Harris. Last season’s defensive player of the year in the Big Ten. Preseason all-Big Ten selection. On pace to be the first Purdue player and second Big Ten player to have 1,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 300 blocked shots.
  • 5-8 senior guard Dominique Oden. Leads team in scoring at 13.1 points per game and has scored 1,452 in her career. Has made 9 of 20 three-point shots. Averages three assists and four rebounds per game. Has started 107 of 111 games in four years.
  • 5-7 junior guard Karissa McLaughlin. Preseason all-Big Ten selection. Last season became third Purdue player to be all-Big Ten as a sophomore. Tied school’s second single-season 3-point record. So far this season is shooting below 30% from field and 3-point distance.

Kent State’s best players

  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford. Leads team in scoring at 15.6 points per game and in rebounding at 8.4. Fourth in MAC in offensive rebounding (3.4). Has scored 51 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in last two games.
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall. Second on team in scoring at 14.7 points per game and tied for first in blocked shots at 1.1. Has made 44.9% of her 3-point shots, including a school-record eight against Ohio State. Scored 32 points in that game.
  • 5-7 senior guard Megan Carter. Third on team at 12.9 points per game after leading Flashes at 15.9 last season. Scored her 1,000th point against St. Bonaventure on Tuesday, when she scored season-high 21 points
  • 5-11 freshman wing Katie Shumate. Second on team in rebounding at 5.9 per game, fourth in scoring at 11.9, tied for first in blocked shots at 1.1 and first in steals at 2.4. Leads team in minutes per game at 36.1.
  • 5-5 sophomore point guard Asiah Dingle. Leads team in assists at 3.1 per game, fifth in scoring at 11.3 after being second on team as freshman last season. Second on team in steals at 1.7.

Kent State season statistics.

MAC season statistics, including standings (all non-league games so far).

To follow the game

Tipoff is at noon Sunday at Mackey Arena at Purdue University. (It’s noon in both Ohio and Indiana; I incorrectly had thought and reported West Lafayette was on Central time.) Here are directions to the arena. It’s about a four-and-a-half hour drive. Tickets are $10. There is a four tickets for $20 promotion.

Video is on BTN+, the Big Ten’s pay-to-watch network. It costs $14.95 per month. You can sign up for one month, but don’t forget to cancel after the game. It automatically renews if you don’t. Sign up or sign in here.

Audio will start at about 11:45 on Golden Flash iHeard Radio. David Wilson is the announcer.

Live statistics can be found during and after the game on the Purdue website.

Game preview on KSU website, with links to roster, schedule and more.

Detailed media game notes for Kent State.

Preview from Purdue website, including links.

Purdue media notes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Megan Carter’s 21 points, including 1,000th of her career, lead Flashes past St. Bonaventure 81-58

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The tip in front of almost a full side of bleachers of Kent elementary school students at the noon “Kids Day” game. Total attendance was 2,104, second only to this season’s  Ohio State game over the last 15 years. 

Megan Carter says her philosophy on foul shots is, “Don’t leave points on the board.”

She and her teammates left exactly one on Tuesday. making  30 of 31 attempts on their way to a 81-58 victory over St. Bonaventure.

Carter had 21 points, including the 1,000th point of her career, to lead the Flashes to their fifth win of the season. She is the 22nd Kent State player to score more than 1,000.

Carter, a fifth-year senior, is a career 74% foul shooter. She made 12 out of 12 Tuesday, tying the fourth best performance in school history.  So far this season she’s made 35 of 40 or 87.5%.

“I always stay after practice until I make at least 50, just working with the coaches on my mechanics,” she said.

Her 21 points are her most so far this season. Carter led the team in scoring last season but struggled with a thumb injury at the beginning of the season. Other players have picked up the slack; all five KSU starters average in double figures. Carter is third on the team at 12.9 points per game.

“It’s been a long road for her to get to the point,” coach Todd Starkey said. “It’s quite the accomplishment. She’s earned it.”

Carter lost most of her freshman season to a knee injury (the third of her career going back to eighth grade). At times, she’s struggled with eligibility, confidence and consistency, but she’s fought her way to the all-MAC third team last season and the all-MAC East preseason team this year. After Tuesday, she has 1,014 points. She’ll also graduate in two weeks, though she’ll stay in school to play in spring semester.

(This story by Stater sports editor Gina Butkovich tells about Carter’s journey.)

Starkey called the victory the team’s “most complete game from start to finish.” It was the Flashes’:

  • Largest margin of victory by 14 points.
  • The fewest points they’ve allowed this season.
  • The second-lowest field goal percentage (40.7) by an opponent.
  • The best team free-throw performance in school history when Kent State has shot more than 20 times from the line.
  • The team’s best assist-to-turnover ratio since 2017 (14 to 9).

“We really wanted to run our offense and trust it instead of breaking the play off and trying to make something happen,” Starkey said. “That is something that we’ve struggled. We did a better job of screening. We got really good looks around the basket.

“It’s been a point of emphasis for us to have more assists. And we had 14 assists and nine turnovers — I will take that every night. We want to try and average around 14 assists a game, so I think we’re starting to do a better job of sharing the basketball.”

Going into the game, Kent State had averaged 11 assists per game, second to last in the MAC. Its assist-to turnover ratio had been 0.78. Tuesday the ratio was 1.55.

Kent State’s Nila Blackford had her third double-double of the season with 20 points and 20 rebounds. She has missed two more by one rebound.

“I knew Nila was going to be good coming in,” Starkey said. “And the way she’s played in the last two games… (31 points and nine rebounds against Robert Morris, 20 points and 10 rebounds against St. Bonaventure).

“She’s really starting to come into her own, and the scary part is her best basketball is still ahead of her. She’s still learning. She wants two be coached. She’s done a great job in practices and getting in and studying film.”

Starkey said he was happier with Blackford’s 10 rebounds than 20 points.

“The points are going to come because she’s a good player,” he said. “It’s the consistency on the boards I appreciate the most. That’s a big, big thing for our team.”

Blackford, a 6-2 freshman from Louisville, Kentucky, has led the team in rebounding in six of seven games. Her 8.4 rebounding average is sixth in the MAC.

After Tuesday, she leads the Flashes in scoring at 15.6 per game. Against St. Bonaventure, she also led the Flashes in assists with four.

“I think it’s just us playing together so much,” Blackford said “It’s kind of like instinct. — like when I see Lindsey or Asiah, it’s just I know that they’re going to get up and get that pass.”

Besides assists, she said, setting better screens has been an emphasis in practice.

“The screens open up players more,” Blackford said. “They open up paths to the basket.”

On rebounding, where she’s third in the MAC in offensive rebounds per game:

“When the ball goes up, I’m looking for any possible way I can go get it, to be the first one to get to it.”

Box score

Notes

  • Kent State’s 5-2 start is its best since 2010-11, when the Flashes won their first six games and went 9-3 in non-conference play. St. Bonaventure is 1-7. The KSU loss was the Bonnies’ worst of the season by 11 points.
  • Sophomore Hannah Young got her first collegiate start, scoring five points with two rebounds, two assists and a block in 15 minutes. Point guard Asiah Dingle came off the bench after about five minutes and still played 25 minutes. (“Coach’s decision,” Starkey said.) Dingle had seven points, three assists and two steals.
  • Lindsey Thall was KSU’s third player in double figures with 11 points.
  • The Flashes got 18 points from the bench, by far their most of the year. Junior forward Monique Smith equaled a career high with four points.
  • Everyone on the roster played except Ali Poole, who has been slowed by a knee injury. Starkey said she’d be able to play in future games, but there was no point in risking aggravating her injury in a game the Flashes were winning easily.
  • The Flashes forced 16 turnovers and scored 15 points off of them. St. Bonaventure scored 11 off Kent State’s nine turnovers. It was the fifth time this season Kent State has had fewer turnovers than its opponent and the sixth time KSU has had more points off of turnovers.
  • Kent State made 39% of its shots, about its average for the season. St. Bonaventure made 40.7% of its filed goal attempts, the second-best defensive average for the Flashes this season. Purdue Fort Wayne had made 39.7%.
  • St. Bonaventure came into the game averaging eight 3-point baskets a game and 36.6% on 3-point shots. The Bonnies made four of 14 for 28.6%.
  • KSU outrebounded St. Bonaventure 27-32. Katie Shumate equaled Blackford’s 10 rebounds, setting a career high.

Kent State plays at Purdue (6-1) at 1 p.m. Kent time on Sunday, the third of its three games against Big Ten teams.

More video

 

 

Flashes are back at M.A.C.C. for noon Tuesday game vs. 1-6 St. Bonaventure

Shumate vs OSU

Freshman Katie Shumate (14) is third on the team in scoring (12.6 points per game), second in rebounding (5.2), first in steals (2.5) and tied for first in blocked shots (1.3).

Kent State’s women return to action against St. Bonaventure Tuesday in a game that’s unlike any they’ve played this season: a home game against a weaker opponent.

The game is at noon at the M.A.C. Center. The unusual starting time for “Kids Day Presented by PSI,” which, the KSU website site says, means more than 1,000 elementary school students are expected to attend. PSI is a Twinsburg-based company that provides support services to school districts.

So far five of the Flashes’ six games have been in two categories:

  • A close victory against a decent mid-major team — Duquesne 77-75, Youngstown State 82-73 in overtime, Robert Morris 82-81 on a last-second basket.

Or…

  • A sound defeat by a Big Ten team — 88-53 by Michigan at the Akron Classic and 75-65 by Ohio State in Kent in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score.

The one exception — a 75-67 win over Purdue Fort Wayne in Akron — is the most comparable to St. Bonaventure. Fort Wayne is 2-5 with wins over Division III Heidelberg and Division I University of Illinois at Chicago, which is 0-7.

St. Bonaventure is 1-6, though it hasn’t lost any game by more than 12 points. It lost 78-67 Wednesday to 7-0 Binghamton and 65-62 to 5-1 Cleveland State. Its only win is against 1-6 Niagara.

Kent State beat the Bonnies 76-64 on the road last season. 

St. Bonaventure was picked 13th in the 14-team Atlantic 10 Conference. Its top players are four guards — 5-foot-8 sophomore Asianae Johnson (12.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game), 5-11 senior Dajah Logan (12.1 points per game) and 5-7 sophomore Deja Francis (6.9 points), who made the Atlantic 10 all-freshman team last season. 5-8 freshman freshman Olivia Brown has made 50% of her 18 three-point attempts and scored 20 points against Binghamton.

The Bonnies have only three players 6-foot or taller and only 6-1 junior Emily Calabrese has played significant minutes. She averages 8.4 points and 7.0 rebounds.

St. Bonaventure averages 64 points a game and gives up about 70. The Bonnies average eight 3-point baskets per game and have made 36% of their 3-point shots. They hit 10 of 17 against Binghamton.

It’s the kind of team that Kent State ought to beat by 15 or 20 points at home. It’s the kind of team Kent State ought to hold below 40% shooting.

But so far the Flashes haven’t beaten anyone by more than nine points and have held only one team — Fort Wayne — below 45% shooting.

The Flashes are scoring a lot of points —72.3 a game, almost seven more than last season. But they’re giving up a lot — 76.5, almost 14 more than last season.

All five KSU starters average in double figures, led by sophomore forward Lindsey Thall at 15.3 and freshman forward Nila Blackford at 14.8. But KSU’s entire bench is averaging 5.9 points a game, and half of that comes from two games by sophomore guard Hannah Young.

Senior Megan Carter would become Kent State’s 22nd 1,000-point scorer if she scores seven points against St. Bonaventure. (Here’s a nice feature on Carter by Kent Stater sports editor Gina Butkovich.)

Kent State season statistics

To follow the game

Tipoff is at noon Tuesday at the M.A.C. Center. General admission tickets are $5. Students get in free with their ID.

Video is on ESPN+, which costs $4.99 a month. Link will take you to game page, which will explain how to pay when you try to watch. About half of MAC men’s and women’s games are on ESPN+; most of the rest are on other ESPN channels (free if you get ESPN) or other broadcast outlets. ESPN+ also streams some wrestling and gymnastics matches and other others during their season, along with games from a number of other mid-major conferences. David Wilson and Ben Pagani are announcers. Most ESPN+ games are archived, so you should be able to see replay after work Tuesday if you can’t attend.

Audio starts at about 11:45 a.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. Dan Griffin is the announcer.

Live statistics during the game will be on the KSU website.

Preview from Kent State team website, including links to rosters, schedule and more.

Preview from St. Bonaventure website, including links.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Megan Carter overcame 4 surgeries to become one of MAC’s best players

Megan profile pic

Kent Stater sports editor Gina Butkovich spent six weeks on this story as part of an independent study with me (wearing my hat as a part-time journalism teacher). Gina has covered Megan and the women’s’ basketball team for two years for the Stater. For this story, she interviewed Megan multiple times, along with her parents. She wrote the story as narrative, telling it as novelist would tell it — but with facts. (Photo by Jarett Theberge.)

Reprinted with permission from the Kent Stater

By GINA BUTKOVICH

Kent Stater sports editor

It had been three months since 14-year-old Megan Carter went up for a jump shot at AAU practice and landed awkwardly on her knee.

It had hurt every day since.

Now she was sitting with her dad in the doctor’s office, waiting for MRI results that would tell if her ACL was torn. Though her father and the doctor had told her how serious an ACL tear could be, she still thought she’d be fine. Maybe a few weeks of physical therapy. Maybe missing a game or two. It was a bummer but not the end of the world. 

Then the doctor turned to Megan.

“You’re going to need surgery,” he said. “And it will probably mean at least six months without basketball.”

Megan started to cry at “without basketball.” Six months was longer than she had gone without playing since her brother handed her a ball when she was 2. She didn’t know how she could stand that. 

The doctor offered her a tissue, and her dad put his hand on her shoulder. 

“It’s going to be OK,” he said gently.

Surgery 1: eighth grade

By the end of the month, Megan’s knee was fixed by a surgeon recommended by her doctor. 

At first, she went to therapy four or five times a week for an hour-and-a-half at a time. She got frustrated when she couldn’t immediately grasp how to do the heel raises and hamstring curls. Megan missed the court terribly. She isolated herself, not seeing friends or teammates. 

It got better after the first month. Her appointments were cut down to three times a week, and she started to get the hang of the exercises. The first time she went to an AAU game to watch her team, she had to step out of the gym for a while. She missed playing so much. But by the third game of her freshman year, she was back on the court.

But all season, something didn’t feel right. Megan tried to put it out of her mind and just enjoy the chance to play. 

Schools like Michigan and Michigan State had started to recruit her.

But then, in January, as she was driving to the middle of the lane during a high school game, Megan faked a step to the left, then drove to the right. Her newly healed knee buckled. 

She went in and out of the rest of the game and managed to limp to the final whistle. A week later, she was in Dr. Stephen Lemo’s office. He is the surgeon for most of Detroit’s professional athletes. He told them that the first surgery was the wrong surgery.  It was for people who just wanted mobility. Megan played basketball at full speed — always.

Surgery 2: Ninth grade

It would take a whole new surgery on the same knee to get back on the court.

She didn’t want to quit. But if basketball meant getting hurt over and over, she wondered if she had it in her to keep playing. 

“Whatever you want to do, I’m going to support you,” her dad told her over the kitchen table one afternoon. “But you’ve loved basketball so much your whole life.” 

In the end, Megan couldn’t imagine life without basketball. 

So it was back to rehab.

She could feel herself starting to get better, but she was still so worried that even walking up the stairs was scary. What if that caused another tear? 

Megan got back onto the court a month into her sophomore season. Even when she came back, she was afraid every move could lead to another injury. 

It wasn’t until her junior year that Megan felt healed. That season, she averaged more than 20 points a game. In January, she had back-to-back 34-point games.  

The Big Ten schools that had recruited her pulled back after her injury. But Mid American Conference schools, including Kent State, were still interested. For Megan, it didn’t matter. She just wanted to play basketball. 

Committing to Kent State

In September 2014, Megan visited Kent State for her first official college visit. Two weeks later, called Kent State from her living room and committed. Her dad walked into the house a minute after she hung up, and they celebrated together. The team wanted her before she was injured, while she was injured and after she was recovered. 

Two hours after she graduated from high school, Megan climbed into the car with her parents and headed to Kent. The next day she would start workouts.

When the fall semester started, Megan moved to Fletcher Hall. She lived next to teammate Savannah Neace, and they were in each other’s room all the time. Practice was going well and Megan had high hopes for the season. 

Megan played 11 minutes in her first college game. The second game, she played 22 minutes and had nine points. She looked poised to be the primary backup to sophomore point guard Naddiyah Cross. 

Then at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne on Nov. 19, Megan went up for a layup.

Before she even hit the ground, Megan could tell something was wrong. She landed and started crying and screaming, “No, no, no.” She lay on the court for minutes. Coaches and trainers looked at her knee and tried to calm her down, but it didn’t do much good. This time it was her other knee.

She sat behind the team bench with her leg propped up for the rest of the game. On the the three-and-a-half-hour bus ride home, Megan sat by herself and cried. Her dad kept trying to call, but she let it go to voicemail. 

An hour into the trip, she picked up the phone. Megan kept crying but listened as her dad talked. 

“It’s going to be OK,” he said. “Life goes on, with or without basketball. You’re going to be OK.”

She went to a doctor in Kent the next day. She was sure it was her ACL. He scheduled an MRI to be sure. Megan’s diagnosis was right.

Surgeries 3 and 4: KSU freshman year

Her parents were with her when she went under anesthesia on Dec. 11. Watching them drive home a few days later, she felt her heart break. Having family around her made everything a little bit better.

Megan was on crutches for four weeks, and as soon as she was off them, she went back for shoulder surgery to fix a nagging injury. For the next month, only half her body — her left leg and right arm — were working.

Every day that spring, she went through two hours of rehab. Her shoulder exercises went a lot easier than her knee, but rehabbing two injuries at once was still tougher than she had anticipated. She often just felt numb and went through the motions of school work.

In the spring, the effort of keeping up with her rehab, classes and watching as her team play without her got to be too much. In February, she told team trainer Emily Moran that she was about to break down. 

Moran talked to the head coach Danny O’Banion.

“Go home for the weekend,” O’Banion said. “You’re not playing. You won’t miss anything.” 

Being home with family, even just for a few days, felt like pressing a reset button. Though at times, she still felt like she was going through the motions of life, she started to feel more positive about returning to basketball. She tried to take charge of her recovery.

Kent State went 6-23 that season, and in early March, it was announced that O’Banion would not have her contract renewed. 

Over the next few weeks, head coach prospects were brought to the team for interviews. The team — and Megan —  liked Todd Starkey, an assistant coach at Indiana, the best. 

After he was officially hired, Starkey met individually with everyone. 

Because of her injury, Starkey hadn’t seen much film of Megan. Instead, Starkey asked her to tell him about her role on the team. 

By summer, Megan was eager to prove she was as good as she told him. She started non-contact drills during practice and workouts. 

Back on the court for a new coach

In November, she came off the bench as Kent State won Starkey’s first game. She played 10 minutes, scored six points, — and felt as proud as she had ever been of herself.

By the end of the season, she was playing more minutes than starting point guard Cross. She played a key role as the Flashes, picked last in a preseason poll, won its first outright MAC East title since 2003. 

On a cold night in March, Megan climbed up a ladder at the end of their last home game and cut down a piece of the net. Megan felt like she was on top of the world. But in the back of her mind, she worried about school. 

Megan had come into college as a pre-med student and was starting to hate it. She played hard to win a MAC East title. But she struggled to get out of bed and go to classes. Often times, she would only attend class on exam days. 

It wasn’t a surprise to her when at the end of the year, she got a call from Kerrie Hunter’s office, the academic adviser for the team. Megan’s spring grades made her academically ineligible to play in the fall. 

Starkey told her she would get a chance to fix her academics. But if Megan slipped up again, she would be done playing at Kent State. 

A semester without basketball

Megan started meeting with Starkey and Hunter almost every day. She switched her major to public health and liked it. Megan practiced with the team but when they played she watched them play from the stands or, when they traveled, from her apartment couch.

On Jan. 3, 2018, she played her first game. Though the team lost 81-79 to Northern Illinois, Megan played 29 minutes and scored 17 points. 

The next game, she scored 15 points. The game after that she didn’t score at all. All season, Megan lacked consistency. She tried to remember the advice of Lacey Miller, a senior leader on the team.

“You’re better than what you’ve been displaying,” Miller had texted on the team bus one time. “I know you can do more. You’ve got it. Just do it.” 

Finding confidence

Megan tried to remember other people believe in her too. She worked on focus and consistency through the offseason, and the next year she led the team in scoring and made the MAC all-conference third team.

The team had its first 20-win season in eight years and beat Green Bay in the first round of the WNIT for the team’s first postseason win in 23 years.

As she plays the first home game of her last season against Ohio State tonight, she remembers the highs and lows. She remembers the friends she has made, the travel she loved — Florida in 2017, New York last year, Canada last summer, Las Vegas next month. She and her teammates are determined to challenge for a MAC championship this season.

All the injuries, all the rehab, all the struggles had been worth it. 

 And basketball would always be a part of her life. 

What they said about Megan and the story

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KSU’s winning double-team ‘wall’ defense got more than 24,000 views on Twitter

I keep thinking about the defensive play that coach Todd Starkey called to win Sunday’s game.

The Flashes sent two long-armed players to guard an inbound pass in the corner with seven seconds to go. Freshman guard Katie Shumate tipped the ball, senior Megan Carter grabbed it out of the air and sank the winning layup.

If you’re one of the few people who hasn’t seen the play, here it is again. (I saw one retweet Monday with more than 24,000 views.

Start with the double-team in the upper left.

Special circumstances made the play work.

1. Shumate had tipped a previous pass out of bounds. The referees spent a long time at the scorer’s table making sure Robert Morris was indeed supposed to get the basketball.

2. That gave Starkey time to devise and set up the defense. The Flashes otherwise were out of timeouts.

3. Robert Morris also was out of timeouts. So when 5-8 guard Isabella Posset looked at the two-person wall of Shumate and Lindsey Thall, she saw a defense she almost certainly had never seen before. All she could do was to try to do the best she could.

4.  One way the beat the defense would be for a RMU player to break down the court and for Posset to throw the ball high in the air to her. Even if KSU were to come up with the ball, the clock would be ticking with seconds to play and no timeouts.

5. But Kent State had just cut the Colonials’ lead to one point in a furious comeback. Adrenaline was running high. And the RMU guard had five seconds to figure out what to do.

The play got a lot of national attention. Here’s a tweet from ESPN’s Debbie Antonelli, one of the top broadcast analysts of women’s basketball.


Here’s full story on KSU’s 82-81 victory


Notes

Kent State redshirt senior guard Megan Carter is seven points away from becoming the Flashes’ 22nd 1,000-point scorer. She’ll get her chance when KSU plays  St. Bonaventure at the M.A.C. Center at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Kent State had won two games at Robert Morris in the last two years. The Colonials had scored a total of 77 points. They scored 81 in Kent Saturday.

Robert Morris is known as defensive team — so much so that coach Charlie Buscaglia had gone 21-0 when his team scored at least 70 points. It’s now 21-1.

Starkey on Robert Morris: “That’s a really good basketball team that we just found a way to beat. They’re very well coached and they played very hard. There’s a reason why they’re the consensus picks a win the lead their league.

Buscaglia, who has a 71-33 record and three conference championship in three-plus season,  got a three-year contract extension last week. He had become in 2016 head coach when his father, Sal, retired in 2016 after 13 years in charge.

Robert Morris senior center Nneka Ezeigbo scored her 1,000th point against KSU in the first quarter. She now has 1,015.

 

Shumate’s tipped pass, Carter’s layup give Flashes last-second 82-81 victory

DWD_6471

Freshman Nila Blackford had her best game, and it was quite a game — 31 points on 11 baskets and nine free throws. She had nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots. (Photo from KSU website.)

Kent State had never practiced the defense that won its game against Robert Morris Sunday.

It came after a three-point basket by Lindsey Thall with seven seconds to play had made the score 81-80 RMU.

Katie Shumate tipped the Colonials’ inbound pass back out of bounds, and the referees took several minutes to make sure that was the right call. That gave Kent State a time to set up a defense that was quite different.

When the teams came back out, Kent State put two players with long arms — 5-11 Shumate and 6-2 Thall — guarding the RMU player trying to pass the ball inbounds, 5-8 guard Isabella Possett.

You could tell Possett was in trouble as soon as she tried to look around Shumate and Thall.

Shumate tipped the pass, it popped into the air, and KSU senior Megan Carter grabbed it about six feet from the basket. She took one dribble toward the basket and cleanly made a layup.

Here’s video of the game winner. Watch the double-team in the upper-left, then Carter’s winning basket.

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Carter’s basket gave Kent State its only lead of the game and an 82-81 victory over the Colonials, unanimous preseason favorites to win the Northeastern Conference.

The Flashes are now 4-2 on the season. Robert Morris is 2-3.

“It was something I saw from Penn State when I coached at Indiana,” coach Todd Starkey after the game. “They used to put three on the ball, and they’d create a wall.

He said he knew the Flashes had to deflect the inbound pass. If Robert Morris were able to pass the ball successfully, KSU would have to foul, RMU would get two shots, and KSU probably wouldn’t have the time to get the back down the court for a shot of final shots of its own.

“We put Katie, who’s bouncy, and Lindsay, who’s long, on it,” the arch said. “I said, ‘You’ve got four hands in there. Get one on the ball.'”

The other Kent State players “were just playing safety, like in football,” Starkey said. “I said, ‘Shoot the gap, find a way to get a steal.’

Then it was up to Carter.

“I just scooped it up,” she said. “I looked up,  I saw the basket, and I didn’t see anybody in front of me.

Was the play something the team had worked on?

“No, no,” Starkey said. “You can’t practice for every situation, especially with a young team. Their heads would just be swimming.”

Kent State trailed by as many as 18 points in the second quarter and 13 points with 4:54 to go.

In those last five minutes, the Flashes outscored Robert Morris 23-8. They made seven of 10 baskets, including three of three in the last 33 seconds. They scored on four fast breaks, two of them three-point plays and one a three-point basket. They made four-of-five free throws.

“Wwe just kept telling them: ‘We haven’t done a whole lot right. Just hang around, hang around, hang around. Give us an opportunity at the end. We did and we took advantage of it. We just kept coming back. They just kept fighting, kept chipping away.”

I mentioned freshman forward Nila Blackford’s numbers in the caption on her photo above. But they’re worth repeating:

  • 31 points on 11-of -16 field goal attempts. It was the most posts for a KSU freshman since Ellie Shields scored 31 vs. Toledo in 2008.
  • Nine-of 11-free throws.
  • Nine rebounds, four of them offensive.
  • Two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.

Blackford also drew eight fouls, playing primarily against Nneka Ezeigbo, last year’s defensive player of the year in the Northeastern Conference, and Ezeigbo’s 6-3 backup. Ezeigbo fouled out with 2:29 to play. She had 18 points and nine rebounds.

“We really wanted to get the ball to Nila a lot in the second half,” Starkey said. “They were helping so heavy on Lindsey because she’s such a great 3-point shooter. So we used her as a decoy and used a lot of plays to get Nila open on the inside. And then Nila did a great job of finishing down the stretch.”

Blackford had struggled with making shots at the rim early in the season and was hitting  just 35% of her shots going into the game.

What’s the art of finishing?

Focus,” Blackford said. “Focus. Keeping my eyes on the basket and finishing through contact.”

Box score

Notes

  • Carter had 16 points, Shumate 13, Thall 11 and Asiah Dingle nine.
  • Kent State did its best shooting of the season, even after making just 23.1% (three of 13) in the first quarter. The Flashes finished at 50.9%, including 11 of 16 or 668.8% in the fourth quarter.
  • Robert Morris made 28 of its 56 shots for 50%. It was the fifth time in six games an opponent has shot 45% or better against the Flashes.
  • Carter’s game winner was her second of the season. Her shot with 0.4 seconds to go beat Duquesne 77-75 in KSU’s opener.
  • For the third time this season, KSU’s points off turnovers gave them far more than the winning margin. The Flashes forced 17 turnovers and scored 24 points from them. Robert Morris scored 11 points off of 15 Kent turnovers. Shumate produced four of those turnovers with steals.
  • The Flashes had 18 assists on 28 baskets, highest of the season in total assists and percentage of baskets assisted. Asiah Dingle had six assists (but seven turnovers).
  • KSU’s bench scored just two points, a basket by junior Monique Smith. Robert Morris reserves scored 23.
  • Robert Morris made 3-point shots at the buzzer of the first and third quarter and two more 3-pointers as the shot clock expired.
  • Blackford’s 31 points was the second time in two games a KSU player had scored more than 30. Thall had 32 against Ohio State Thursday. The last time that happened was in February 1991. In subsequent games, Tracy Lynn scores 38 agains tWestern Michigan, Ann Forbes scored 32 against Ohio and Lynn scored 32 against Central Michigan. KSU averages 91.3 points in those three games.

Kent State is now off for Thanksgiving and plays next at noon Tuesday, Dec. 3 against St. Bonaventure, which is 1-5 this season. The noon start is for an education day in which local elementary, middle school and high school students are bused to campus for tours.

Video highlights, including Thall and Carter baskets at end with radio announcer Dan Griffin making the call of the winning basket.

From KSU Twitter, more video.

Thall’s 3-pointer to make the game 81-80.

Carter 3-pointer with 24 seconds to go.

 

Asiah Dingle with a driving basket.

Another 3-pointer by Carter

 

After Ohio State loss, Flashes face NEC favorite Robert Morris at home Sunday

Carter vs OSU

Senior Megan Carter in action against Ohio State. She had three 3-point baskets and 13 points against the Buckeyes. (Photo by David Dermer.)

Kent State’s Sunday game against Robert Morris isn’t nearly as glamorous as its meeting with Ohio State Thursday, but it could tell us more about the team.

The Flashes are 3-2 after their 75-65 loss to OSU before 4,272 fans, probably the largest crowd ever to see a women’s game at the M.A.C. Center. (Records before 2000 are spotty.)


ALL ABOUT THE KENT STATE OHIO STATE GAME


Robert Morris is 2-2 and the unanimous favorite to win the Northeastern Conference, a league it has dominated for the 10 years.

The Colonials and Kent State have played tough games with each other over the last three years. RMU beat the Flashes 68-65 in overtime in Kent three years ago. KSU has won defensive battles at Robert Morris the last two years, 54-46 last season and 46-31 two years ago.

The Colonials would be competitive in the Mid-American Conference, though probably not at the top of the league.

So far this season they have lost to TCU (now 4-0) and beaten LaSalle (4-1) in overtime on the road, then beaten Youngstown State (2-3) and lost to Columbia (2-3) at home. Robert Morris has led in the second half of every game, and all except YSU has been decided by five points or fewer.

Kent State beat Youngstown State by nine in overtime at YSU. Robert Morris beat the Penguins by 58-43 in Pittsburgh.

Robert Morris returns four starters and 85% of its scoring from a team that went 22-11 last season and made the WNIT. 6-foot-2 senior center Nneka Ezeigbo (15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game so far this season) was all-conference last season and league defensive player of the year.

Guard Nina Augustin (10 points, 5.8 assists per game) made the all-NEC tournament team and guard Isabel Possett made the league’s all–freshman team. The Colonials have added junior college all-American Holly Forbes (9.3 ppg).

Robert Morris ranked 12th in the country in scoring defense last season, allowing 55 points per game.

Kent State, which ranked third in the MAC in points allowed last year, has yet to find its defense this season despite returning three starters (a fourth has been injured). The Flashes are giving up 75 points a game, 13 more than last season. Four of their five opponents have shot better than 45%, though two were the Big Ten’s Michigan and Ohio State.

Those were the teams that beat KSU. The Flashes have beaten mid-majors YSU (2-3) and Duquesne (3-2) on the road and Purdue Fort Wayne (2-4) at the Akron Classic.

Sophomore forward Lindsey Thall’s 32 points against Ohio State, powered largely by a school-record eight three-pointers, pushed her scoring average to 16.2 per game. The four other KSU starters also average in double figures: freshman guard Katie Shumate (12.8), sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (12.6), freshman forward Nila Blackford (11.6) and senior guard Megan Carter (10.6).

Blackford (8 rebounds a game), Shumate (5.2) and Thall (4.4) lead in rebounding. 

Kent State season statistics

Mid-American Conference standings (just non-league games so far).

The view from Ohio State

Ohio State coach Kevin McDuff, as quote in the Columbus Dispatch’s BuckeyeExtra

“I thought we played well for three quarters, and then in the fourth quarter we played really bad. I think that’s just a sign of an immature team; we got out of our process and system and they made us pay for it.”

On the team having nine players with more than 17 minutes:

“One of the luxuries of this team is that we have some depth and can play a lot of people. It was a really good performance.”

On the team’s 22 assists, a season high, on 32 baskets:

“I really liked the way we moved the ball. (That’s when) we’re at our best.:

To follow the Robert Morris game

Tipoff is at 1 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center. General admission tickets are $5. Students get in free with their ID.

Video will be streamed on ESPN3, which is free if you subscribe to ESPN by cable, satellite or app.

Pregame audio begins at about 12:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. 

Live statistics are available during the game on the Kent State website.

KSU team website, with links to roster, schedule, statistics and more.

Robert Morris website, with links.