Two big home games: 2nd-place Ohio on Saturday, 1st-place Miami Wednesday

huddle vs bg

Kent State in the huddle against Bowling Green in its last home game. (Photo by Austin Mariasy from KSU website)

 

Kent State plays its two biggest home games of the Mid-American Conference season over the next six days.

On Saturday afternoon, the Flashes host second-place Ohio, which has the best overall record in the conference at 21-3.

On Wednesday, first-place Miami comes to town.

If KSU is to challenge for a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament, they likely have to win one of these games and beat fourth-place Buffalo in Kent in the last game of the regular season.

It won’t be easy. Both teams beat Kent State on the road in the first half of the conference season. Ohio build a big first half lead and held off a KSU rally to beat the Flashes 83-81 on Jan. 16. Bowling Green topped the Flashes 79-63 on Jan. 26. It was KSU’s widest loss and worst defensive performance of the MAC season and the last game of a four-game losing streak for KSU.

Since then, the Flashes have won five of six, though the competition has been considerably less than Ohio and Miami.

Kent State is now tied for fifth with Northern Illinois at 8-5; if the teams tie at the end of the season, Kent gets the higher seed in the tournament because of its 87-78 victory over the Huskies. The Flashes are a game ahead of Toledo, another team it holds a tie-breaker against.

KSU is one game behind Buffalo, two games behind Ohio and Central Michigan in second, and three games behind Miami. There are five regular-season games left.

Besides the Ohio, Miami and Buffalo home games, Kent State travels to Akron and Bowling Green. Both are teams the Flashes have beaten at home.

About the Ohio game

Ohio (10-3 MAC, 21-3 overall) at Kent State (8-5, 15-9) at 2 p.m. Saturday at the M.A.C. Center.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: At this point, Kent State is the best of the second tier of the MAC. Ohio is a chance to prove the Flashes belong among the top four. Ohio is tied for second place, a game out of first. The Bobcats can’t afford to lose a game like this if they want a conference championship;

About Ohio

IN THE MAC: Tied for second at 10-3, losing to Miami and Central Michigan at home and at Toledo.  It has won four of its last five, including a 78-75 win at Central.

(I use full league standings because seedings are determined solely on the conference record. Where a team finishes in its division means nothing.)

RPI: 31 of 351 teams, second best in the MAC after Central Michigan. Schedule strength: 132. Road record: 8-1. Tenth in latest CollegeInsider Mid-Major Top 25. CMU is seventh, Miami 14th and Buffalo 15th. Toledo and Kent State also received votes.

LAST GAME: Beat Western Michigan 70-56 in Athens on Saturday. Had a midweek bye.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference statistics only)

  • Scores 76.8 pointsa game, third in MAC. Opponents score 69.0 (sixth).
  • Field goal percentage: 41.8 (sixth). Field goal defense: 42.0 (eighth).
  • Three-point percentage: 34.7 (tied for second). Three-point baskets per game: 10.0 (first). Three-point defense: 33.7 (eighth).
  • Rebounding margin: Minus-2.5 (eighth). Turnover margin: plus-5.5 (first).

KEY PLAYERS

  • 5-foot-8 sophomore guard Cierra Hooks (18.1 points per game, fifth in MAC) Field-goal percentage 49.5 (sixth):  Assists: 4.4 (sixth). Steals: 2.7 (third). Rebounds: 5.6 (20th)
  • 5-11 redshirt freshman forward Erica Johnson (14.5 points, 12th). Three-point percentage 45.6 (second). Three-point baskets per game: 2l0 (13th). Free-throw percentage: 67.9 ninth). Assists: 3.5 (12th). Rebounds: 6.3 (17th). Steals: 1.7 (15th). A leading candidate for MAC freshman of year.
  • 5-9 junior guard Amani Burke (12.8 points, 19th)). Three-point percentage: 37.5 (13th). Three-point baskets per game: 2.8 (sixth). Blocked shots: 1.1 (fifth).

About Kent State

IN THE MAC: Tied for fifth with Northern Illinoisat 8-5, one game behind Buffalo and three games behind first-place Miami.

RPI: 80. Schedule strength: 97. Home record: 9-2. Has won five of last six games.

LAST GAME: Won 56-52 at Western Michigan Wednesday.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference games only)

  • 67.2 points a game (eighth). Opponents average 64.9  (third).
  • Field goal percentage: 37.8 (last). Field goal defense: 40.1 (third).
  • Three-point percentage: 34.4 (fifth). Three-point baskets per game: 7.4 (seventh). Three-point defense: 33.3 (seventh).
  • Rebounding margin: Plus-0.2 (seventh). Turnover margin: Plus-2.1  (fourth)
  • Blocked shots: 3.9 (first). Steals: 8.8 (third).

KEY PLAYER STATS

  • 5-7 redshirt junior guard Megan Carter: 17.2 points, eighth in MAC. Field-goal percentage: 42.9 (10th). Three-point percentage: 38.6 (11th). Free-throw percentage: 75.7  (fifth). Assists: 2.3 (23rd).
  • 5-4 freshman point guard Asiah Dingle: 13.1 points (18th). Free-throw percentage: 77.8 (fourth). Steals: 2.2 (seventh).
  • 6-0 junior guard Ali Poole: 9.8 points. Three-point percentage: 40.4 (sixth). Three-point baskets per game: 1.8 (tied for 15th).
  • 6-2 freshman forward Lindsey Thall: 9.5 points. Three-point percentage: 43.4 (fourth). Three pointers per game: 1.8 (tied for 15th). Blocked shots: 1.6 (second). Rebounds: 5.2.
  • 5-9 senior guard Alexa Golden: 9.8 points. Three-point percentage: 36.7 (18th). Steals: 3.3 (first). Assists: 2.8 (17th). Blocks: 0.8 (tied for 11th). Rebounds: 6.2 (18th).

THE BOTTOM LINE: Ohio is favored. At home, Kent State should have a chance. But the Flashes can’t afford the long offensive droughts that hurt them at Western.

To follow the game

The game starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at the M.A.C.C. Center-court chairback tickets are $10, general admission $5. Students are free with Kent State ID. Average home attendance has been 932, seventh in conference.

Audio starts at about 1:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. Jacob Pavilack does play-by-play.

Video is through ESPN3. You can watch it through your cable or satellite company or the ESPN app. David Wilson is play-by-play announcer.

Live statistics are available through the Kent State website.

Links

Kent State women’s website, including links to statistics, roster and more.

Ohio website, including links.

MAC conference-only statistics, including link to full-season stats.

MAC standings

 

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Flashes clinch home tournament game with 2nd 4-point win over WMU

Carter layup file (1)

Megan Carter led KSU in scoring with 22 points on eight-of-15 shooting. (File photo by David Dermer from KSU website.)

 

The game came down to Kent State’s most experienced players, and Megan Carter and Alexa Golden came through in the Flashes’ 56-52 victory at Western Michigan Wednesday.

Carter scored 22 points, her eighth time this season above 20 and the 16th time she has led the Flashes in scoring. She and Golden combined to make five free throws in the final 30 seconds to guarantee the victory.

Golden led the team with eight rebounds and had nine points and two steals.

The victory leaves the Flashes at 8-5 and tied for fifth in the MAC with Northern Illinois. It guarantees them at least a first-round home game in the conference tournament, which starts in three weeks. If Kent State could move past Buffalo into fourth place, they would get a bye to the quarterfinals at Quicken Loans Arena.

KSU is 15-9 on the season. Western Michigan is tied for 10th in the league at 2-11 and is 8-16 overall. It was the second four-point win for Kent State over the Broncos; the Flashes beat WMU in Kent 55-51 two weeks ago.

“Megan showed up big, especially in key moments,” coach Todd Starkey said in a postgame interview with Golden Flash iHeart Radio announcer David Wilson. “In the second half she wanted the ball in her hands and that’s what we need her to do. She doesn’t really have the type of personality that’s, ‘Give me the ball.’

“She’s so talented. She needs to be more selfish, to be honest. I think her teammates really, really trusted her down the stretch and went to her.”

Carter, who is one of the better three–point shooters in the MAC, got off only two shots off from that distance.

“Coach said just take what they give us,” she said.

Starkey said coaches designed plays to get Carter some mid-range jump shots.

Then, he said, “things started to break loose a little bit for us.”

Carter was the only Kent State player to make more than half of her shots (eight of 15). The rest of the team combined to go 10 of 40.

Three times during the game the Flashes went more than four minutes without scoring. They didn’t score for the first six minutes of the game, fell behind 8-0 but came back to lead 13-10 after the first quarter.

In the third quarter they were stuck on 33 point for six minutes. But Western scored only four in that time. The Broncos scored six points in the quarter, KSU seven.

In the fourth quarter, Kent State pushed its lead to 47-35 with five minutes to go, then didn’t score until 1:40 left after Western had closed the score to 47-42. The Broncos got within 53-50 but didn’t score after that until there were three seconds to go.

“We’ve been talking about the consistency thing all season,”  “Starkey said. “And it certainly almost bit us tonight.

“The goal for any coach is to be playing your best basketball in late February and early March. At times, we’re playing really good basketball and at times it looks like we’re setting the game back 20 years.”

But, the coach said, “We found a way again to get a win. And any road win in the conference is so hard to come by.”

Even when Golden doesn’t score, she has been a key player for the Flashes in almost every game.

“Lex is ole Miss Reliable,” Starkey said. “She’s playing hurt right now. I’d say that about 70 percent of the time I’ve been here, she’s been hurt in one form or another. She’s so tough that half the time she doesn’t let us know.

“She played through a lot of pain tonight and still was very reliable with the ball in her hands. She was one of our biggest talkers defensively when it seemed like everybody else wanted to be silent.”

Starkey didn’t specify Golden’s injury, but last season she had such bad shin splints that she didn’t practice most of the last three weeks of the season.

Box score

Notes

  • After the first quarter, Kent State had three turnovers that had led to four WMU points. The Flashes made only seven turnovers for the rest of the game. Western, usually one of the MAC’s best teams at protecting the basketball, had 13 more. For the game, Kent outscored the Broncos 19-7 off turnovers. KSU’s 10 turnovers were its lowest of the season.
  • Besides hitting the foul shots to clinch the game at the end, Kent made 14 for the game to nine for Western.
  • Kent State’s 34 percent shooting percentage was about 5 points below its average and 9 points below its defensive average. Western’s 37 percent was 3 points below its average and Kent’s defensive average.
  • Western, which is last in the MAC in rebounding margin,  outrebounded KSU 41-35. Five-foot-seven guard Deja Wimby had 12 rebounds for the Broncos.
  • Wimby scored 20 points, with many coming on post moves close to the basket. “I’ve never seen a guard have that good moves down low,” Carter said.
  • KSU freshman guard Hannah Young blocked three shots and have five rebounds in nine minutes. She had blocked only four all season before Wednesday.
  • Strangely, Kent’s best plus-minus player (points the team outscored the opponent when she was on the floor) was freshman reserve guard Mariah Modkins. Team was plus-15 in the 15 minutes she she was on the floor. She had two points and one steal. Team was plus-two in Carter’s 38 minutes.
  • The game was the sixth time in 15 conference games Kent has held its opponents under 60 points.
  • Kent State’s six assists were second lowest of season. (Flashes had five in loss to Wright State.)

The Flashes are home Saturday against second-place Ohio, which is 21-3 and beat Kent State 83-81 in Athens in January. Then the Flashes to play first-place Miami in Kent on Wednesday.

Other MAC scores

  • Miami (11-2 MAC, 20-4 overall) 65, Toledo (7-6, 15-9) 56 at Toledo.
  • Central Michigan (10-3, 19-6) 92, Bowling Green (1-12, 8-16) 54 at BG.
  • Buffalo (9-4, 17-7) 97, Ball State (2-11, 7-18) 58 at Ball State.
  • Eastern Michigan (5-8, 12-12) 67, Akron (5-8, 14-10) 60 at Eastern.

Ohio and Northern Illinois were off.

Miami leads the conference at 11-2, Ohio and Central Michigan are 10-3, Buffalo is 9-4 and Kent State and NIU are 8-5.

Full MAC standings

Six games to go in MAC season, and it looks like dogfight for KSU

Seeding 218The idea for this post was prompted by GoldenFlash01, who also goes by Burden on Flash Fanatics, the main KSU fan bulletin board. If you haven’t checked that out, it’s well worth it. Burden is one of the other big women’s basketball fans on the board.

 

Kent State has a most interesting six games left in the regular MAC season.

The Flashes play — on the road — Western Michigan, Akron and Bowling Green. They’re all teams KSU beat at home. All have worse conference records and RPIs at least 60 points lower. But the games on the road, and winning in the MAC away from home is rarely easy.

The Flashes should be favored on all three. They also could could lose them all,

At home, they play Ohio, Miami and Buffalo. Kent State lost to all of them on the road. Ohio and Buffalo were fairly close; Miami was by the largest margin in KSU’s conference schedule. Miami is in first in the MAC, Ohio second and Buffalo fourth. All have RPIs in the top 50 (of 351) in the country. Kent’s RPI is 81.

The Flashes should be underdogs in all three games. But at home, they could win any or all.

Kent State is 7-5, tied for fifth in the MAC and own the tie-breaker for the fifth seed in the MAC Tournament. The first four seeds get byes to the quarterfinals at Quicken Loans Arena. The next four host the first round of the tournament on campus sites.

The Flashes are a game behind fourth-place Buffalo. The teams have almost identical schedules, though KSU plays its key games at home. Buffalo plays at Ohio and Kent State and home against Miami.

The teams KSU is tied with — NIU and Toledo — play in the weaker  Western Division. Both have to play at 9-3 Central Michigan and play each other at Toledo. The Rockets play 10-2 Miami at home Saturday. So both are likely to lose at least two games.

In some ways, the season reminds me of two years ago, when Kent State was also 7-5 at this point and won all six of its final games and the MAC East title. No one expected that. I don’t think anyone expects it this season. Ohio, Miami and Buffalo are all substantially better teams than they were that season. Is KSU better? The Flashes have much less experience, no star like Larissa Lurken but probably more overall talent..

How do we make sense of that? We really can’t. It’s more than a cliche this season: This season will be decided on the court.

Wednesday Kent State travels to Western Michigan, which Kent State held on in the fourth quarter to win 55-51 in Kent 10 days ago.

Here’s the preview:

The game

Kent State (7-5 MAC, 14-9 overall) at Western Michigan (2-10, 8-15) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at University Arena.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: It’s a game Kent State needs to win to stay in the running for a good seed in the tournament. Western is mired in 10th place and is playing for pride. It will be Western’s third game in five days. They lost 77-64 at Northern Illinois Monday in a game rescheduled because of snowstorm a few weeks ago.

PLAY4KAY (again): The game is Western’s “Play4Kay” game to support research into women’s cancer. Kent State just had its game Saturday.

WHAT COACH TODD STARKEY IS SAYING: Pretty much what he’s been saying for the last month:”Any win this time of year is really big.  Everybody needs to understand is how good this league is.”

(How good? The MAC has the seventh highest RPI of the 31 leagues in Division I. Seven teams have RPIs in the top 100. Both are the best ever for the conference. Rankings are from WarrenNolan.com.)

About Western Michigan

IN THE MAC: Tenth at 2-10. Has beaten only the two teams below it in the standings, Bowling Green and Ball State. Took fourth-place Buffalo to overtime.

(I use full league standings because seedings are determined solely on the conference record. Where a team finishes in its division means nothing.)

RPI: 266 of 351 teams, lowest in the MAC. Schedule strength: 227. Home record: 2-8. Has lost five in a row.

LAST GAME: Lost 70-56 at Ohio on Saturday.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference statistics only)

  • Scores 60.8 points a game, last in MAC. Opponents score 71.2 (eighth).
  • Field goal percentage: 40.5 (ninth). Field goal defense: 42.8 (ninth).
  • Three-point percentage: 32.0 (ninth). Three-point baskets per game: 7.7 (fifth). Three-point defense: 29.3 (second).
  • Rebounding margin: Minus-8.8 (last). Turnover margin: Minus-2.6 (10th).

KEY PLAYERS

  • 5-foot-7 senior point guard Deja Wimby (12.9 points per game) Rebounds: 6.7. Assists: 4.1. Steals: 1.6.
  • 6-foot sophomore forward Leighah-Amori Wool (12.1 points). Rebounds: 4.8.
  • 5-7 junior guard Kamrin Read (11.0 points). Three-point percentage: 37.5.

Kent State

IN THE MAC: Tied for fifth with Northern Illinois and Toledo at 7-5, one game behind Buffalo and three-and-a-half games behind first-place Miami.

RPI: 81. Schedule strength: 89. Road record: 5-7. Has won four of last five games.

LAST GAME: Beat Bowling Green 77-73 in Kent on Saturday.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference games only)

  • 68.1 points a game (eighth in MAC). Opponents average 66.0  (third).
  • Field goal percentage: 38.2 (last). Field goal defense: 40.4 (third).
  • Three-point percentage: 35.0 (third). Three-point baskets per game: 7.5 (sixth). Three-point defense: 34.0 (ninth).
  • Rebounding margin: Plus-0.7 (fifth). Turnover margin: Plus-1.8  (fourth)
  • Blocked shots: 3.9 (first). Steals: 9.1 (third).

KEY PLAYER STATS

  • 5-7 redshirt junior guard Megan Carter: 16.8 points, ninth in MAC. Field-goal percentage: 41.9 (10th). Three-point percentage: 40.5 (sixth). Free-throw percentage: 74.6  (seventh).
  • 5-4 freshman point guard Asiah Dingle: 13.5 points (17th). Free-throw percentage: 81.0 (fifth). Steals: 2.3 (sixth).
  • 6-0 junior guard Ali Poole: 10.2 points. Three-point percentage: 38.9 (eighth).
  • 6-2 freshman forward Lindsay Thall: 9.8 points. Three-point percentage: 45.9 (fourth). Blocked shots: 1.8 (tied for first). Rebounds: 5.3.
  • 5-9 senior guard Alexa Golden: 9.8 points. Three-point percentage: 37.0 (16th). Steals: 3.4 (first). Assists: 3.1 (14th). Blocks: 0.8 (11th). Rebounds: 6.4 (14th).

THE BOTTOM LINE: A game Kent State needs to and ought to win. But it was too close when Flashes beat Western in Kent. Flashes will need more than one good half.

To follow the game

The game starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday at University Arena at Western Michigan University. It’s about a four-and-a-half hour drive. Here are directions from the WMU website. Tickets are $4 to $8. Average Western attendance is 671, ninth in the MAC.

Audio starts at about 6:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. David Wilson does play-by-play.

Video is through ESPN+, which costs $4.99 a month. The service covers about 50 percent of KSU basketball games (the rest are broadcast elsewhere), other games and features. You can watch it through your cable or satellite company or the ESPN app. Here’s a link to the ESPN broadcast, which will guide you through a purchase.

Live statistics are available through the WMU website.

Links

Kent State women’s website, including links to statistics, roster and more.

Western Michigan website, including links.

MAC conference-only statistics, including link to full-season stats.

MAC standings

 

Flashes slip by Bowling Green 77-73 behind Dingle’s 21 points

Warren at anthem

Kent State President Beverly Warren, who’s about 5 feet tall, between 6-4 women’s coach Todd Starkey (right) and 6-6 assistant Mike McKee during National Anthem at team’s “Play4Kay” game Saturday. Game honors women’s cancer survivors like Warren. 

 

After four quarters so different it seemed as if Kent State and Bowling Green had played four games, it came down to freshman Asiah Dingle.

The score was 73-73 with fewer than 10 seconds to go. Dingle, the Flashes’ ultimate drive-to-the-basket player, had the ball at the top of the key. Other KSU played cleared the foul lane and Dingle took off, going around one player and drawing a foul five seconds left.

She made both fouls shots, the Flashes forced a turnover on BG’s last chance, and Megan Carter hit two more free throws to end the game.

“We wanted to make them defend us without fouling,” coach Todd Starkey said. After a lot of foul calls had gone against the Flashes in the fourth quarter, “We wanted to give the officials have the same opportunity to call the same fouls for us.

“So we wanted to get Asiah to the basket. If they don’t collapse on her, she finishes or draws the foul. If they do, we have a shooter in the corner ready for her to kick it.

“It was kind of the parting of the Red Sea. They stayed on the other shooters and Asiah got the foul. Percentage-wise she’s our best free-throw shooter, so we’re comfortable with her in that situation.”

As she always does, Dingle took the ball from the official at the line and almost in the same motion, shot it. “Don’t want to get all anxious about it,” she said.

Dingle finished with 21 points, her second-highest total of the year. She also had five steals and four assists.

Dingle led four KSU players in double figures. Ali Poole had 17 and a critical steal in the fourth quarter, Carter scored 16 with four assists and Lindsey Thall had 12.

Kent State is now 7-5 in MAC and tied for fifth in the conference. BG is 1-11 and 8-15.

The game’s tight ending came after four quarters of crazy swings. In the game’s first six minutes, the teams combined to make nine of 13 three-point shots. By the end of the quarter, it was 25-19 Kent. The Flashes had six assists and outscored BG 7-0 off turnovers. (KSU committed none all quarter.)

But in the second quarter, BG forced eight Kent State turnovers and outscored KSU 13-2 off of them. The Falcons made four-of-six three-point attempts and six-of-11 shots overall. Kent made three-of-11 field goal tries.

So at halftime, it was 40-38 Bowling Green.

The third quarter swung the other way. The Flashes outscored BG 20-8, outscoring the Falcons 6-0 off turnovers and hold them to three-of-11 shooting. KSU made nine of its 18 shots. Key was a defensive adjustment after Bowling Green made seven-of-13 three-pointers in the first half.

“We were helping on drives, but they weren’t really driving to score,” Starkey said. “They were driving to kick out to three-point shooters, and it gave them so many open looks. So we said, ‘Stay on the shooters,’ and they weren’t able to get as many.”

Kent State led by as many as 13 points halfway through the fourth quarter, then the momentum swung back to BG. Kent missed four shots and committed two turnovers as Bowling Green went on an 11-0 run and tied the game at 71 with 1:54 to play.

“We had really good looks,” Dingle said. “They just didn’t go down. But we hung in there.”

In the huddle, Carter said, the word was, ‘Don’t get down on ourselves. Keep playing — the next play, then the next play. We’re fine. ‘”

With just over a minute left in the game, Poole knocked the ball away from BG senior Sydney Lambert and drove three-quarters of the court for a layup. It was 73-71 KSU.

“We needed that one so bad,” Starkey said. “We just needed something to go our way. It was a huge, huge individual play by Ali.”

Dingle the thief

Dingle had five steals for the third time this season and, just as important, committed only two fouls. She’s fought foul trouble throughout the season. What gave her the steals?

“They were just dribbling it in front of them,” she said.

“She has phenomenal timing,” Starkey said. “We’ve been trying to coach her to pick her spots so she’s not getting fouls in areas where it doesn’t make a difference. But in areas that it does, she can time the dribble. And if they expose it, I have a lot of confidence in her being able to steal the ball without fouling.”

Dingle averages 2.3 steals in MAC games, sixth in the conference.

In first is teammate Alexa Golden at 3.4, which is 0.6 ahead of the rest of the league. Golden had four steals Saturday, the seventh time in 12 league games she’s had four or more.

As a team, Kent had 13 steals Saturday, its high for the conference season and tied for second for the year.

Box score

Notes

  • The win ties Kent State with Toledo and Northern Illinois for fifth place in the MAC, one game behind Buffalo. The Flashes beat NIU and Toledo earlier in the season and therefore would get the fifth seed in the league tournament if the teams tied.
  • Team’s 14th win is one more than Flashes won all last season with at least seven games to play.
  • Kent State made 26 of 67 shots for 38.8 percent, about its season average. Buffalo was 22 of 44 for 50 percent, 9 points above its average and 10 points above Kent’s defensive average.
  • But the Flashes took an astounding 23 more shots than BG because of a 23-15 turnover advantage and a 12-3 edge in offensive rebounding. KSU had 13 second-chance points to Bowling Green’s four.
  • Kent State had 13 assists on its 26 baskets. When the Flashes get more than 10 assists, they seem to play much better.
  • The game was KSU’s “Play4Kay” event to support women’s cancer research and to honor cancer survivors. After KSU’s starting lineup was announced, seniors Golden and Merissa Barber-Smith went into the stands to hand Kent State President Beverly Warren a bouquet. Warren, a breast cancer survivor, also stood with the team during the National Anthem.
  • Attendance was announced at 1,660, second highest of the season.

Kent State travels to Western Michigan Wednesday. The Flashes built a big lead against Western last week and held on for a 55-51 win.

Around the MAC

  • Central Michigan (9-3 MAC, 18-6 overall) 100, Buffalo (8-4, 16-7) 95 at Buffalo.
  • Northern Illinois (7-5, 15-9) 54, Toledo (7-5, 15-8) 52 at Northern.
  • Ohio (10-3, 21-3) 70, Western Michigan (2-9, 8-14) 56 at Ohio.
  • Miami (10-2, 19-4) 67, Akron (5-7, 14-9) 61 at Akron.
  • Eastern Michigan (4-8, 11-12) 56, Ball State (2-10, 7-17) 53 at Eastern.

Miami still leads the league at 10-2. Ohio is second at 10-3, Central third at 9-3 and Buffalo fourth at 8-4.

MAC standings

 

 

6-5 Flashes host 1-10 Bowling Green, which just upset 2nd-place Buffalo

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 6.40.22 AM

In National Play4Kay competition among women’s programs, fans pledge money for each free throw a team makes in February. Link to Kent State donation page.

The game

Bowling Green (1-10 MAC, 8-14 overall) at Kent State (6-5 MAC, 13-9 overall), 5 p.m. Saturday at M.A.C. Center. Game is first of a doubleheaders with KSU men, who play a half hour after women finish. One ticket gets you in both games.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: Bowling Green has won just one MAC game, but it was quite a game. The Falcons broke a 10-game losing streak (all in the league) Wednesday with a 78-72 upset of Buffalo, the second-place team in the conference and No. 31 (of 351 teams) in the latest RPI rankings. BG will be hungry for a second win. Kent State needs to win games like this in order to keep challenging for a first-division finish in the MAC.

PLAY4KAY: The  game is Kent State’s annual “Play4Kay” game to support research against women’s cancers. Players and coaches wear pink (shoes, warmups, ties, etc.) and the team takes donations. Cancer survivors and their families are honored. The team is also taking part in the Play4Kay Free Throw Challenge, in which a donation is made for every foul shot the team makes in February. (Details in caption above.) Game is named for Kay Yow, a Hall of Fame coach at North Carolina State who fought three occurrences of cancer before dying in 2009. About Play4Kay.

WHAT COACH TODD STARKEY IS SAYING: “We’re still struggling with our consistency —  game-to-game, sometimes quarter-to-quarter. You can take that as frustrating, or look at it as a positive since we’re 13-9 and No. 81 in the RPI and we still haven’t played our best basketball yet.

“Bowling Green will come in with a heightened sense of confidence. They’re a good team that’s continued to improve throughout the season. They play really hard and have enough shooters to make it interesting against anybody.”

(As quoted by Allen Moff in Record-Courier.)

About Bowling Green

IN THE MAC: Last at 1-10. Only win was Wednesday against Buffalo at BG.

(I use full league standings because seedings are determined solely on the conference record. Where a team finishes in its division means nothing.)

RPI: 210 of 351 teams. Schedule strength: 121. Road record: 2-8. Besides Buffalo, best win was 61-60 at home against 13-8 Robert Morris, which currently leads the Northeastern Conference with an 11-0 record. Kent State beat RMU 54-46 in December.

LAST GAME: Beat Buffalo 78-72. Kent lost at Buffalo 75-66 a week ago.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference games only)

  • Scores 68.1 points a game, seventh in MAC. Opponents score 78.3 (11th).
  • Field goal percentage: 40.8 (eighth). Field goal defense: 44.8 (last).
  • Three-point percentage: 32.2 (eighth). Three-point baskets per game: 7.9 (third). Three-point defense: 36.1 (10th).
  • Rebounding margin: Minus-1.1 (seventh). Turnover margin: Minus-3.4 (11th).

COACH: In her first year at BG is Robyn Fralick, who was enormously successful at Ashland. Her teams went 104-3 in three years, won Division II Tournament in 2016-17 and was runner-up last season.

KEY PLAYERS

  • 6-1 junior wing Andrea Cecil (15.0 points per game,13th in MAC).  Field goal percent: 41.5, (10th). Three-point percentage: 36.4. Rebounds: 5.5.
  • 5-9 freshman guard Morgan McMillen (11.2 points). Three-point percentage: 32.6 Three-pointers per game: 2.5 (seventh). Takes 7.8 three-point shots a game. McMillen went through the non-conference as MAC’s highest-scoring freshman but has cooled during league play.
  • 5-8 senior guard Sidney Lambert (12.8 points). Assists: 3.8. Rebounds: 4.8.
  • 5-9 freshman guard Kadie Kempfling (8.2 rebounds, seventh in MAC. 4.9 points).

Kent State

IN THE MAC: Tied for sixth with Northern Illinois at 6-5, one game behind Toledo, one game ahead of Akron, and three games behind first-place Miami.

RPI: 81. Schedule strength: 74. Home record: 8-2. Has won three of last four games.

LAST GAME: Won at Eastern Michigan 67-54 on Wednesday.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference games only)

  • 67.3 points a game (eighth in MAC). Opponents average 65.4  (third).
  • Field goal percentage: 38.2 (tied for last). Field goal defense: 39.7 (second).
  • Three-point percentage: 34.9 (fourth). Three-point baskets per game: 7.34 (sixth). Three-point defense: 32.7 (sixth).
  • Rebounding margin: Plus-0.4 (fifth). Turnover margin: Plus-1.7  (fifth)
  • Blocked shots: 4.18 (first). Steals: 8.73 (third).

KEY PLAYER STATS

  • 5-9 senior guard Alexa Golden: 10.1 points. Steals: 3.4 (first in MAC). Three-point percentage: 39.6 (10th). Assists: 3.1 (15th). Blocks: 0.9 (ninth). Rebounds: 6.4 (14th). She had Kent State’s first double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds against Eastern Michigan.
  • 5-7 redshirt junior guard Megan Carter: 16.8 points, ninth in MAC. Field-goal percentage: 41.9 (ninth). Three-point percentage: 42.1 (sixth). Free-throw percentage: 72.6  (fifth).
  • 5-4 freshman point guard Asiah Dingle: 12.8 points (19th). Free-throw percentage: 78.8 (third) . Steals: 2.1 (sixth).
  • 6-2 freshman forward Lindsay Thall: 9.5 points. Three-point percentage: 45.5 (fourth). Blocked shots: 1.9 (tied for first). Rebounds: 5.3.
  • 6-0 junior guard Ali Poole: 9.5 points, 4.2 rebounds.

THE BOTTOM LINE: On paper and at home, Kent State is clear favorite. If BG plays anywhere near the way they did against Buffalo, though, things will get interesting.

To follow the game

The game starts at 5 p.m. Saturday at the M.A.C. Center. It’s the first game of a doubleheader with the KSU men, who play Eastern Michigan a half hour after the women finish. A $5 women’s general admission ticket or any men’s ticket gets you into both games. Average Kent State attendance is 1,329, seventh in the MAC and highest in at least 15 years.

Audio starts at about 4:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. Jacob Pavilack is the announcer.

Video is through ESPN Plus, which costs $4.99 a month. The service covers about 50 percent of KSU basketball games (the rest are broadcast elsewhere) and other games and features. You can watch it through your cable or satellite company or the ESPN app. Here’s a link to the ESPN broadcast, which will guide you through a purchase. David Wilson is play-by-play announcer.

Live statistics are available through the Kent State website.

Links

Kent State women’s website, including links to statistics, roster and more.

Bowling Green website, including links.

MAC conference game statistics, including link to full-season stats.

MAC standings


 


The game starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Alumni Arena at the University of Buffalo. It’s about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Kent. Here are directions from the Eastern website. General admission tickets are $5. Average Buffalo attendance is 1,856, fifth in the MAC.

Video is through ESPN3. You need a subscription to ESPN on your cable or satellite system or through the ESPN app.

Links

Preview from Kent State women’s website, including links to statistics, roster and more.

Detailed media notes from Kent State.

Preview from Eastern Michigan website, including links.

Media notes from Eastern Michigan.

 

 

 

 

 

A very complete game by Alexa Golden leads Kent State to 67-54 win over EMU

Golden passing (1)

Alexa Golden led Kent State at Eastern Michigan with 17 points. She also had 10 rebounds and four steals. Golden leads the MAC in steals in conference games only and is fourth in all games. (File photo from KSU website.)

It wasn’t quite the complete game coach Todd Starkey had been wanting, but the Flashes put up their second-largest scoring margin of the MAC season, winning at Eastern Michigan 67-54.

For senior guard Alexa Golden, however, it was a most complete game.

Golden scored 17 points, all in the first half, had 10 rebounds, four steals, two assists and two blocked shots.

The victory takes Kent State to 6-5 and a tie with Northern Illinois for sixth place in the Mid-American Conference. Overall the Flashes are 13-9 — as many wins as the team had all last season with at least eight games to go. Eastern Michigan is 3-8 in the MAC and 10-12 overall.

“We did some good things tonight,” Starkey said. “But Alexa was the only one who played well from start to finish.

“So much of what Lex does goes unnoticed by the common fan — her toughness, her communication on defense. A couple of times in the game she’s out there with four freshmen, and she’s directing traffic and making sure everybody knows where to go and what to do.”

Golden’s 17 points in the first half were the best 20 minutes of scoring in her career. Her high for a game is 22.

“If they’re not going to guard me from the three-point line, I’m going to shoot it,” she said in a radio interview with David Wilson on Golden Flash iHeart Radio.

Golden made three-of-five three-pointers Wednesday and leads the team in three-point percentage at 39.8. She also leads the team and the MAC in steals per conference game and leads KSU in assists. Golden is second in rebounding and blocked shots for the Flashes.

“She’s been a warrior for us every year,” Starkey said. “This year she’s a senior playing with a lot of confidence.”

Defense has always been Golden’s speciality, and her team held Eastern to its third-lowest point total of the MAC season. It also was the ninth team KSU has held a team to 54 points or fewer. The Flashes limited Danielle Minott, EMU’s leading scorer and a preseason all-MAC West selection, to five points.

“We wanted to get her in foul trouble,” Golden said. “And it was just, ‘Move our feet, stay in front of her and make her take tough shots.'”

Minott picked up three fouls in the first half, finished with four fouls and made two-of-eight shots.

Key to playing the Eagles, Golden said, was attacking them offensively and defensively.

“You can’t be passive,” she said. “You have to be the aggressors. And we came out tonight and were the aggressors, although in the third quarter we fell back a little bit. But we got it back on track.”

Starkey wasn’t happy with the team’s play in that quarter, when Eastern outscored KSU 16-15 and outrebounded the Flashes 13-8 (5-0 on offensive rebounds). And he really didn’t like the way KSU started the game.

Kent State give up four steals in the first quarter and had seven turnovers. The Flashes missed six of its first nine shots.

“We’re still having to overcome ourselves,” the coach said. “We’re searching for that complete team effort from start to finish. You could say that some of your best players don’t have their best games and we still won on the road by 13.

“At times we look really good in games, and other times in the same game we look like a completely different team.

“I was proud of the way we played through some of that early sloppiness. We had some moments that we played some really good basketball. But if the goal is to get to the top of the league, we’ve got to continue to improve. This conference is unforgiving, and every game down the stretch is going to be huge.”

Box score

Notes

  • Three Kent players scored in double figures besides Golden. Megan Carter had 12, Asiah Dingle 11 and Lindsey Thall 10. It was the fifth time this season four Flashes have scored in double figures. Ali Poole just missed being the fifth with eight points. KSU hasn’t had five players score in double figures since 2010. Poole also had eight rebounds.
  • The win was KSU’s second over EMU this season; the Flashes won the first 71-64 on Jan. 5. Under Starkey, Kent has beaten the Eagles all six times it has played them. Before that, the team had lost 11 in a row.
  • Kent State made 41 percent of its field goals, about 3 points above its average, and 40 percent of its three-point attempts, 5 points better. Eastern made 32.8 percent of its shots, 5 points below its average and 6 points below KSU’s defensive average.
  • Each team committed 16 turnovers, with Eastern outscored the Flashes 19-11 off of them.
  • KSU outrebounded Eastern for the game 41-37. Golden’s double-double was Kent’s first of the season.

Kent State hosts Bowling Green at 5 p.m. Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader with the KSU men, who play Eastern Michigan at about 7:30.

(An earlier version of this story said Golden had nine rebounds. The unofficial statistics during the game were changed in the final box story.)

Around the MAC

Bowling Green won its first league game Wednesday, and it was quite an upset. The Falcons (1-10 MAC, 8-14 overall) beat second-place Buffalo 78-72 at BG. Bowling Green made 61 percent of its shots in the first half and 57 percent for the game. Buffalo is 8-3 and 16-6 and has the 31st-best RPI of Division I’s 351 teams. BG’s RPI is 210. Kent State’s is 82.

Another surprise came in Toledo, where the Rockets routed first-place Ohio 76-50. Toledo is 7-4 (15-7 overall) and in fifth place in the MAC, a game ahead of Kent State. Ohio slipped to a tie for second at 9-3 and is 20-3 overall.

Miami claimed first place for the first time this season with a 70-45 win over NIU. The Redhawks are 9-2 and 18-4 overall. Northern is 6-5 and 14-9.

Other scores:

Central Michigan (8-3, 17-6) 87, Western Michigan (2-8, 8-13) 53.

Akron (5-6, 14-5) 91, Ball State (2-9, 7-16) 61.

Miami is in first at 9-2, Ohio second at 9-3, Central and Buffalo tied for third at 8-3. Toledo is fifth at 7-4 with Kent State and NIU tied for sixth at 6-5. Akron follows at 5-6, then Eastern at 3-8, Western at 2-9, Ball State at 2-9 and BG at 1-10.

Complete standings.

 

Initial 2020 recruit was district player of year, 1st-team all-state as sophomore

Santoro (1)

Casey Santoro and family at the M.A.C.C. (Photo from her Twitter feed.)

Kent State has received its first class of 2020 verbal commitment from Casey Santoro, a 5-4 guard from Bellevue who was first-team all-state as a sophomore. She tweeted earlier this month that she planned to join the Flashes.

Santoro averages 22.5 points a game and leads the Sandusky Bay Conference in scoring. Earlier this season she scored 40 points in a game, connecting on 10 three-point shots. Her team is 16-2 and ranked sixth in the state in Division II. Santoro averaged 19 points a game as a sophomore and was district player of the year.

Casey is the sister of Carly Santoro, who was Bowling Green’s best player for three years, then graduated early and transferred to Ohio State. She’s currently a starter there. The Santoro sisters’ father, Kory, is Bellevue’s head girls coach.

The Sandusky Register reported that Casey received the offer from Kent State after the Classic in the Country Tournament in Berlin, Ohio, in January. (The rest of this post except for the last paragraph is from the Register story by Sarah Baker with some small editing.)

Santoro’s father said KSU coach Todd Starkey “was impressed with the way she played against some of the taller guards that were already committed to Division I for Aurora.

“He had been watching her for a while, but he just needed to see her play with her high school team.”

Coach Santoro said he believes Casey was impressed with the Kent State coaching staff.

“The coaching staff is off the charts,” he said. “I’ve known coach Starkey for a couple years. He came in after Kent State had a losing record; he came in the next year and won a MAC championship in his first year there.

“He’s a very good coach and he has a great staff. Kent has a great point guard coach (assistant Morgan Toles, who started at point for Florida State and Auburn), so I know Casey’s excited.”

Kent State coaches can’t comment on a recruit until she signs an official letter of intent, which can’t happen until November.

 

Flashes (5-5 in MAC) play at Eastern Michigan (3-7) Wednesday

Carter holding ball (1)

Guard Megan Carter is eighth in the MAC in scoring (17.3 points per game), sixth in free-throw percentage and ninth in field-goal percentage. (File photo from KSU website.)

The game

Kent State (5-5 MAC, 12-8 overall) at Eastern Michigan (3-7, 10-11), 7 p.m. Wednesday.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: This kind of game is critical if Kent State is going to hold on to a good seed in the MAC Tournament. The Flashes beat Eastern 71-64 at home on Jan. 5 and have a better record. Now they need to prove they can beat a team like the Eagles on the road. They have similar away games coming up against Western Michigan, Akron and Bowling Green.

WHAT COACH TODD STARKEY IS SAYING: “It comes down to us. We’ve got to play the way we’re capable of. We hope to have good practices Monday and Tuesday, focus on our game plan and go up there and play well.”

About Eastern

IN THE MAC: Ninth at 3-7, two games behind Kent State. Has beaten Bowling Green and Western Michigan at home and Akron on the road.

(I use full league standings because seedings are determined solely be the conference record. Where a team finishes in its division means nothing.)

RPI: 185 of 351 teams. Schedule strength: 159. Home record: 7-2, with only losses being to Buffalo (16-5) and Northern Illinois (14-8) in overtime. Has lost four in a row.

LAST GAME: Lost to Toledo 63-43 in Toledo Saturday. Kent beat Toledo 58-47 in Toledo in January.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference statistics only)

  • Scores 63.6 points a game, 11th in MAC. Opponents score 70.7 (eighth).
  • Field goal percentage: 38.7 (11th). Field goal defense: 42.5 (eighth).
  • Three-point percentage: 31.7 (eighth). Three-point baskets per game: 7.0 (seventh). Three-point defense: 37.3 (10th).
  • Rebounding margin: Minus-2.2 (eighth). Turnover margin: Plus-1.5 (third).

KEY PLAYERS

  • 5-8 senior guard Danielle Minott (16.6 per game, 11th in MAC).  Field goal percent: 34.7, 15th). Three-pointers per game: 2.4 (10th). Free-throw percentage: 79.4 (fourth). Steals: 2.1 (seventh). Preseason all-MAC West.
  • 5-8 redshirt sophomore guard Corrione Cardwell (12.5 points). Field-goal percentage: 42.5. Steals: 2.3 (fifth).
  • 5-5 freshman guard Jenna Annecchiarico (9.2 points). Has top assist/turnover rate in MAC at 2.15.
  • 6-5 sophomore forward Autumn Hudson (6.7 points). Rebounds: 6.5 with at least 10 rebounds in last three games.

Kent State

IN THE MAC: Seventh at 5-5, one game behind Northern Illinois and Toledo, one game ahead of Akron, and three-and-a-half games behind league-leader Ohio.

RPI: 85. Schedule strength: 67. Road record: 4-7.

LAST GAME: Lost at second-place Buffalo 75-66 Saturday.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference games only)

  • 67.3 points a game (seventh in MAC). Opponents average 66.5 (third).
  • Field goal percentage: 37.9 (12th). Field goal defense: 40.4 (third).
  • Three-point percentage: 34.4 (fourth). Three-point baskets per game: 7.3 (sixth). Three-point defense: 32.2 (fifth).
  • Rebounding margin: Even (sixth). Turnover margin: Plus-1.40  (fourth)
  • Blocked shots: 4.20 (first). Steals: 8.90 (second).

KEY PLAYER STATS

  • 5-7 redshirt junior guard Megan Carter: 17.3 points, eighth in MAC. Field-goal percentage: 41.3 (ninth). Free-throw percentage: 74.1  (sixth).
  • 5-4 freshman point guard Asiah Dingle: 13.0 points (19th). Free-throw percentage: 80.0 (third) . Steals: 2.2 (sixth). Scored career-high 29 points in first game against EMU.
  • 6-0 junior guard Ali Poole: 9.7 points, 3.8 rebounds.
  • 6-2 freshman forward Lindsay Thall: 9.6 points. Three-point percentage: 45.0. Blocked shots: 2.1 (first). Rebounds: 5.7.
  • 5-9 senior guard Alexa Golden: 9.4 points. Steals: 3.3 (first). Assists: 3.2 (15th). Blocks: 0.9 (13th). Rebounds: 6.2 (17th).

THE BOTTOM LINE: All the numbers point to Kent being favored. The question is whether they can play that way on the road.

To follow the game

The game starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Alumni Arena at the University of Buffalo. It’s about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Kent. Here are directions from the Eastern website. General admission tickets are $5. Average Buffalo attendance is 1,856, fifth in the MAC.

Audio starts at about 6:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. David Wilson is the announcer.

Video is through ESPN Plus, which costs $4.99 a month. The service covers about 50 percent of KSU men’s and women’s basketball games (the rest are broadcast elsewhere). You can watch it through your cable or satellite company or the ESPN app. Here’s a link to the ESPN broadcast, which will guide you through a purchase.

Live statistics are available through the Eastern Michigan website.

Links

Preview from Kent State women’s website, including links to statistics, roster and more.

Detailed media notes from Kent State.

Preview from Eastern Michigan website, including links.

Media notes from Eastern Michigan.

MAC statistics

MAC standings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second-half rally isn’t enough as KSU falls to second-place Buffalo, 75-66

Poole file (1)

Ali Poole helped lead Kent State’s comeback with 11 points in the second half and, with Megan Carter, had 16 for the game. (File photo from KSU website.)

 

Game after game, win or lose, coach Todd Starkey has bemoaned that the Flashes haven’t been able to put four good quarters together this season.

He could say it again after KSU’s 75-66 loss at Buffalo Saturday.

Kent State shot poorly and committed 11 turnovers in the first half. Then after trailing by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, the Flashes made seven-of-14 three-point shots and 15-of-29 field goal attempts overall in the second half.

“When we’ve played to the level that we’re capable of, we’ve been right in games, or we’ve won,” Starkey said. “Today we came out a little bit passive, and obviously you can’t do that against Buffalo with their seasoned veterans.

“When you’re starting two freshman point guards, it’s difficult to find a rhythm and get consistency.”

In the second half, Starkey said, the Flashes outplayed Buffalo, which is 8-2 and tied for second place in the MAC. The Bulls are 16-5 overall and have a 24 RPI out of 351 teams.

“Our ball movement was much better,” Starkey said. “We had a lot more assists and open shots because of them. We tightened things up on offensive rebounding. Their second-chance  opportunities really hurt is in the first half.

“I was definitely pleased with our fight. This group is a pretty resilient bunch. I think we have the potential for some really good things to happen down the stretch here. But we have to play more consistent.”

Kent State pulled with 59-55 with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but Buffalo’s Cierra Dillard scored on a basket and a foul shot, then assisted on another three-point play. Kent never got closer than seven after that.

Dillard, whose 25-point average is third in Division I, finished with 31 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

“She played like the best player in the league today,” Starkey said. “She took 15 three-point shots and knocked down some pretty big ones.”

Dillard needed 25 shots to get her points. She made nine and was five of 15 from three-point distance, both numbers below her averages. The assist total equaled her best of the season and was one away from the most for any MAC player this year.

Kent State has won many of its games this season with points off turnovers and fast-break points. Saturday those statistics belonged to Buffalo.

The Bulls scored 28 points off of 20 KSU turnovers. They had 25 fast-break points. (Anything above 10 in that category is good.) Kent State scored eight points off of 15 Buffalo turnovers and had eight fast-break points.

Buffalo also had 14 offensive rebounds and 17 second-chance  points. In the first five minutes of the game, the Bulls forced Kent State turnovers and gathered six offensive rebounds.

“It’s pretty clear to me that our turnovers and the second-chance points we gave up in the second half is what cost us the game,” Starkey said.

Box score

Notes

  • The loss drops Kent State to 5-5 in the MAC and 12-9 overall. The Flashes are seventh in the league, a game behind Toledo and Northern Illinois, who both won Saturday.
  • Ali Poole and Alexa Golden led Kent State’s comeback with 11 points apiece in the second half. Each had four three-pointers in the game. Golden’s was a career high to go with four assists, three steals and and four rebounds. For the game, Poole had 16 points, tied with Megan Carter for the team high, and Golden had 15.
  • Merissa Barber-Smith, KSU’ 6-4 senior center, started and played 27 minutes, second highest of her career. She had five points, two steals and a team-leading seven rebounds. Overall rebounding margin was 36-35 Buffalo.
  • Freshman Lindsey Thall made three-of-seven three-point baskets, the sixth time this season she’s made at least three three-point baskets.
  • Asiah Dingle, Kent’s second-leading scorer, had the worst game of her freshman year. She scored zero points on 0-for-6 shooting. Dingle picked up two early fouls and played only 15 minutes, her low for the year. She had three assists and five turnovers. “The fouls throw her off,” Starkey said. “As a young player, she’s used to being on the court.” Freshman Mariah Modkins played 24 minutes at point guard in Dingle’s place and had a three-point basket and two steals.
  • Buffalo forward Summer Hemphill had her sixth double-double in the 13 games she’s played this year. She sat out the first semester with academic problems. Saturday she had 15 points and 12 rebounds and made seven of 10 shots. She leads the league with a 64 percent shooting percentage.
  • The nine-point margin was a big improvement from last season, when Buffalo beat Kent State three times by an average of 30 points. Closest game was 72-50 in the MAC tournament.

On Wednesday, Kent State plays at Eastern Michigan (3-7 MAC, 10-11 overall). The Flashes beat Eastern 71-64 in their conference opener.

Other MAC scores

Ohio held on to first place in the MAC by beating Central Michigan at Central 78-75. It was Ohio’s second victory of the season over the Chippewas. The Bobcats lead the MAC at 10-2, a half game ahead of Miami and Buffalo. Overall Ohio is 20-2. Central is 7-3, fourth in the conference and 16-6 overall.

The rest of Saturday’s action:

  • Toledo (6-4, 14-7 MAC) 63, Eastern Michigan (3-7, 10-11) 43 at Toledo.
  • Miami (8-2, 17-4) 82, Bowling Green (0-10, 7-14) 75 at BG.
  • Northern Illinois (6-4, 14-8) 93, Ball State (2-8, 7-15) 83 at Ball State.
  • Akron (4-6, 13-8) 69, Western Michigan (2-7, 8-12) 62 at Akron.

MAC standings

 

Flashes, now 12-8, play Saturday at second-place Buffalo

The game

Kent State (5-4 MAC, 12-8 overall) at Buffalo (7-2, 15-5), 1 p.m. Saturday.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: Flashes play one of MAC’s best teams on the road. A win would be a very big deal. Flashes must face MAC’s top scorer Cierra Dillard, who averages 25 points a game and is a leading candidate for MAC player of the year.

About Buffalo

IN THE MAC: Tied for second with Central Michigan and Miami, a half game beyond Ohio. Has lost only to Central on the road and Ohio at home in overtime.

RPI: 24 of 351 teams. Schedule strength: 46. Home record: 7-3. Has won seven of last eight. 10th-ranked mid-major team by CollegeInsider.com.

LAST GAME: Beat Toledo 73-63 at home on Wednesday.

KEY TEAM STATS

(I’m switching to conference-game-only statistics because they better reflect how a team is playing now.)

  • Scores 76.4 points a game, third in MAC. Opponents score 68.4 (fifth). Field goal percentage: 42.0 (fifth). Field goal defense: 39.6 (first).
  • Three-point percentage: 33.0 (seventh). Three-point baskets per game: 7.8 (fifth). Three-point defense: 27.6 (first). Free throw percentage 73.9 (thir-).
  • Rebounding margin: Plus 2.7 (third). Offensive rebounds per game: 14.7 (first).
  • Turnover margin: Plus-1.0 (fourth). Steals per game: 8.56 (third). Blocked shots per game: 3.78 (second).

KEY PLAYERS

  • 5-foot-9 senior guard Cierra Dillard (24.7 points per game, first in MAC and third in nation). Assists per game:  6.8 (first). Steals: 2.7 (third). Three-point percentage: 36.8 (fourth). Three-pointers per game: 3.6 (first). Free-throw percentage: 79.4 (fourth).  Preseason all-MAC East, All-MAC second team in 2017-18.
  • 6-1 junior center Summer Hemphill (12.8 points, 22nd). Rebounds: 9.2 (fifth). Field-goal percentage: 64.0 (first). Blocks: 1.3 (fourth). Preseason all-MAC East, Missed first semester for academic reasons.
  • 6-2 junior center Theresa Onwaquka (9.6 points, 6.2 rebounds).

Kent State

IN THE MAC: Tied for fifth with Northern Illinois and Toledo at 5-4, two-and-a-half games behind league-leader Ohio (7-2).

RPI: 85. Schedule strength: 75. Road record: 4-6. Has won two in a row after losing four in a row.

LAST GAME: Beat Western Michigan 55-51 at home on Wednesday.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference games only)

  • 67.4 points a game (seventh in MAC). Opponents average 65.6 (third).
  • Field goal percentage: 37.5 (12th). Field goal defense: 40.3 (second).
  • Three-point percentage: 33.0 (sixth). Three-point baskets per game: 7.0 (eighth). Three-point defense: 31.9 (fifth).
  • Rebounding margin: Plus-0.1 (sixth). Turnover margin: Plus 2.11 (third)
  • Blocked shots: 4,33 (first). Steals: 8.89 (second).

KEY PLAYER STATS

  • 5-7 redshirt junior guard Megan Carter: 17.4 points, seventh in MAC. Field-goal percentage: 41.2 (10th). Field goal percentage (10th). Three-point percentage: 41.7. Free-throw percentage: 73.9  (seventh).
  • 5-4 freshman point guard Asiah Dingle: 14.4 points (14th). Field-goal percentage: 37.9 (14th). Free-throw percentage: 80.0 (third) . Steals: 2.3 (fifth).
  • 6-2 freshman forward Lindsay Thall: 9.7 points. Three-point percentage: 41.7. Blocked shots: 2.2 (first). Rebounds: 5.9.
  • 5-9 senior guard Alexa Golden: 8.8 points. Steals: 3.3 (first). Assists: 3.1 (16th). Blocks: 0.9 (10th). Rebounds: 6.2 (17th).

WHAT COACH TODD STARKEY IS SAYING: “We’ve got a lot to improve on if we’re going to have a win. It’s arguably the toughest place to play in the league.

“Consistency is what we have to improve the most. It’s not like we can’t do it and that we don’t do it at times and look good.  but we have to do it all the time regardless of the situation. We still haven’t put four good quarters together yet.”

THE BOTTOM LINE: If the Flashes play the way they did in when they outscored Western Michigan 20-7 in the first quarter Wednesday, they should be in the game. If they play the way they did when they scored 17 points in the second half, they could lost by 25.

To follow the game

The game starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at Alumni Arena at the University of Buffalo. It’s about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Kent. Here are directions from the Buffalo website. General admission tickets are $10. Average Buffalo attendance is  1,993, third in the MAC.

Audio starts at about 12:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. David Wilson is the announcer.

Video is through ESPN3. You need a subscription to ESPN on your cable or satellite system or through the ESPN app.

Live statistics are available through the Buffalo website.

Links

Preview from Kent State women’s website, including links to statistics, roster and more.

Detailed media notes for Kent State.

Preview from Buffalo website, including links.

Detailed media notes for Buffalo.

MAC statistics

MAC standings