A chance to win? Or a blowout? KSU women get ready for Ohio State

Starting five

Kent State’s starting five (from left): Nila Blackford, Asian Dingle (3), Lindsey Thall, Megan Carter (31), Katie Shumate (right). (Photo from team website.)

When Kent State played Michigan four days ago, the Wolverines took charge of the game in the second quarter and did just about everything they wanted to on the way to a 88-53 victory.

When the Flashes played at North Carolina in their opener a year ago, they led the Tar Heels by two points with five minutes to go before losing 73-60.

Is either a pattern for Kent State’s home game against Ohio State on Thursday?

“Is Ohio State good enough to blow us out?” coach Todd Starkey said in an interview Tuesday. “Absolutely. ”

“If we play really well and shoot the ball really well, can we make it interesting and potentially win? I think so as well.”

Ohio State is coming off a 74-68 loss to MAC favorite Ohio University on Sunday. “I suspect they’re pretty mad,” Starkey said. “That doesn’t help our cause a whole lot.”

The Buckeyes are 2-1, beating Valparaiso 89-38 and winning at Cincinnati 78-73 in overtime.

Kent State is 3-1, with road wins over Duquesne 77-75 and Youngstown State 82-71 and a win over Purdue Fort Wayne 75-67 Sunday in the Akron Classic. The Flashes’ loss to Michigan also was in Akron.

Both teams are young and still learning to play as a unit.

Kent State’s second-leading scorer and top two rebounders are both freshman. Two other starters are sophomores.

Ohio State starts a junior transfer, three sophomores and a freshman. The five other players who got into the Oho game were all freshmen. That group’s recruiting class was rated fourth in the country this year.

“They’ve got former Ms. Basketballs and all-state players and all-Americans and all that type of things,” Starkey said. “They’re very talented at every position and have depth at every position. But they’re young and trying to find their way, just like we are.

“They’re playing players together than have not played major minutes together. Even Braxton Miller, who’s a junior transfer from Oklahoma with a lot of experience, hasn’t played with this group before. You’ve got all those freshmen and a group of sophomores who played some last year. But they didn’t play with these players.”

Kent State has enough talent that its starting five all average at least 12 points a game. But Starkey has said after every game that the team wasn’t connected enough.

On offense, that has meant the players have been scoring without a lot of help from their teammates. KSU averages just nine assists a game, which 310th of 350 Division I teams ranked by herhoopstats, an analytics service.

“We have to be more willing passers,” Starkey said. “We have to make the extra pass — pass up average shots for good shots, good shorts for great shots. That comes from experience and time playing with each other, but also from people being conscious of it.”

Still KSU is averaging 71.8 points, highest in Starkey’s four years here.

On defense,  a similar lack of “connectiveness” (Starkey’s word) has created problems.

“Everybody is kind of focused on what their individual responsibility is right,” the coach said. “When you’ve got five players kind of on a defensive Island, they may be able to do their specific job. But if they don’t know what the other person’s job is and they don’t know what to do when that person doesn’t do their job, it throws everybody off a little.

“We’ve been very reactionary defensively. You want to be a team that anticipates defensively. Regardless of the talent that you have, if you’re always reacting on the court, it slows down your talent.”

Something has to get better on defense. The Flashes are allowing almost 17 points a game more than they did last season. Some of that 78.9 average is distorted by Michigan’s 88 points. Some is distorted by the extra scoring of their overtime win at Youngstown State. But take those away and and they’re still allowing 68.7 points a game — six more than last season.

Opponents’ are making 46.8% of their shots, a figure that would have been last in the MAC by 3 percentage points last season. Michigan made 54.7% of its shots. Duquesne and Youngstown State each shot above 45%.

Ohio State is perhaps the most intriguing matchup in Kent in school history. But people need to remember it’s still just a game in November, Starkey said.

“My biggest focus is help this team grow on the timeline that they need so they can be playing their best basketball in February and March. We can’t just try to win a single game against Ohio State. We’ve got to figure out how to get better.”

All about the game

It will start about 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the M.A.C. Center. It’s the second game of a doubleheader with the Kent State men, who play Division II Concord (2-2) at 5 p.m. The women’s game will start a half hour after the men’s game ends.

One ticket gets you in both games. Men’s reserved seats are $20, general admission $15. You may have to switch seats between games. Students get in free with their ID. Men’s and women’s season tickets will be honored. Kent State is hoping for a record crowd for a women’s game, which would be more than 4,000 in the 6,000-seat M.A.C.C.

The game is on ESPN+, which costs $4.99 a month. This link will take you to the ESPN page, which will guide you through paying. Other home and away men’s and women’s basketball games are also on ESPN+, along with those of other MAC teams and other mid-majors and events in other sports like wrestling and gymnastics. Dave Wilson and Tanner Castora are the announcers.

On radio, the game is on WHLO 640 AM and on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. Ty Linder is the announcer.

During the game, you can get live statistics through the KSU website.

All about the Buckeyes

  • Starting forward Dorka Juhasz is 6-foot-4 and a preseason all-Big Ten selection. She was second all-Big Ten as a freshman. She led the team in scoring (11.7 points per game) and rebounding (9.0) last season and has 13 career double-doubles, including 16 points and 12 rebounds against Ohio.
  • Junior guard Braxtin Miller is a 5-10 Dayton native who transferred back to Ohio from Oklahoma. She got an NCAA waiver to be eligible this year just before the season started. At Oklahoma she averaged 13 points a game and was twice honorable mention All-Big 12.
  • Kierstan Bell, a 6-1 guard, played for Canton McKinley High School and was Miss Basketball in Ohio the last three years, The only other person to win three years in a row is LeBron James. She had five steals, 12 points and six rebounds against Ohio, but she also had three turnovers and missed all seven of her 3-point shots.
  • Aaliyah Patty is a 6-3 sophomore forward who has averaged nine points and six rebounds in OSU’s three games. Last season she played in all 29 games, made five starts as a freshman and scored 20 points in a win at Minnesota.
  • Sophomore Janal Crooms is a 5-10 guard who had 12 assists and 10 points against Cincinnati. She was third on the team in scoring last season and had 27 points of 12-of-15 shooting in Ohio State’s overtime win at Penn State.

Against Ohio, the five people off the bench were all freshmen

  • Aixa Wone Aranaz, a 6-3 forward rated 15th best international recruit in her class
  • Kaeluynn Satterfield, a 6-foot guard rated a five-start recruit and No. 32 in her class.
  • Jay Sheldon, a 5-10 five-star guard from Dublin, Ohio, rated No. 41 in her class.
  • Madison Green, a 5-8 guard from Pickerington rated 61st best recruit last season.
  • Rebeka Mikuklasikova, a 6-4 forward from Slovakia who has played for at least five international teams.

Game preview from Ohio State team website, which has links to statistics, roster, schedule and more.

All about the Flashes

  • Starting guard Megan Carter, a 5-6 redshirt senior from Bloomfield Hills, a suburb of Detroit. She was a preseason all-MAC East selection and made the all-MAC third team last season. She was the team’s leading scorer last year at 15.5 points per game.  Her strongest weapon is a pull-up jump shot.
  • Point guard Asiah Dingle, a 5-4 sophomore from Stoughton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. Dingle is KSU’s leading scorer so far this season at 15 points per game. She made the MAC’s all-freshman team last season and was runner-up for freshman of the year. She has a wicked drive to the basket.
  • Forward Lindsey Thall, a 6-2 sophomore from Strongsville, Ohio. Thall led the MAC in blocked shots last season and made 45.8% of her 3-point shots in league play and 40% all season. She’s making 42.9 of her 3s this season and averaged 12.3 points per game. She also made the league’s all-freshman team last season.
  • Guard Katie Shumate, a 5-11 freshman from Newark, Ohio. She leads the team in minutes played, is second in the team in scoring (14.8 points per game) and in rebounding (5.5). She has made 50% of her field goals and 58.3 percent of her 3-pointers.
  • Forward Nila Blackford, a 6-2 freshman from Louisville, Kentucky. She leads Kent State in rebounding at 8.8 per game and averages 12.3 points. She was her region’s player of the year in Kentucky last season, which made her a finalist for Kentucky Miss Basketball.

Top reserves are:

  • Sophomore guard Hannah Young, who has made all six shots she’s taken this season. She scored 1,998 points in at Brookville High School in Virginia.
  • Senior forward Ali Poole, who has been sidelined with a knee injury. She may play Thursday. She has started 48 games in her career.
  • Senior forward Sydney Brinlee, a junior college transfer who has become the team’s top reserve forward.
  • Freshman guard Clare Kelly, who has been first player off the bench. She was one of Ohio’s best 3-point shooters in high school but hasn’t found the range yet in college.
  • Sophomore guard Mariah Modkins, the shortest player on the team at 5-1 but very quick on defense. She backs up Dingle at point guard.

Preview from KSU team webpage, with links to roster, statistics, schedule and more.


  • The last and only time an Ohio State basketball team played in the M.A.C. Center was 38 years ago, when the Mid-American Conference and Big Ten weren’t even playing women’s basketball. OSU beat Kent State 67-62 in the championship game of the Ohio Association of Intercollegiate Sports for Women.
  • Kent State will play a return game at Ohio State next season.
  • The Flashes have lost all six games they’ve played against OSU. All were between 1978 and 1981.
  • The game is the first of three straight at home for Kent State. The Flashes play Robert Morris, the preseason favorite in the Northeastern Conference, at 1 p.m. Sunday. They play St. Bonaventure at noon on Tuesday, Dec. 3. (It’s Education Day for local elementary, middle school and high school students.)









Ohio just beat Ohio State in Columbus. Can Flashes do it in Kent on Thursday?

Ohio scoreMAC favorite Ohio University beat Ohio State 74-68 in Columbus Sunday.

What can Kent State, which plays Ohio State at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the M.A.C. Center, learn from that game?

The two biggest lessons are, perhaps:

  1. A MAC team can indeed beat the Buckeyes.
  2. Ohio State will come to Kent determined to make sure it doesn’t happen twice in a row.

I watched the game on television Sunday. Here are some thoughts about how Ohio won and how that might relate to Kent State.

  • Ohio is almost certainly a better team than Kent State is. The Bobcats won 30 games last season and have almost all of their key players back. Kent State won 20, has a lot of players back but starts two freshmen. Ohio State won 15 last season and is a very different team with one of the best freshman classes in the country.
  • The Flashes did play Ohio almost evenly last year, losing both games by two points (though KSU scored at the buzzer at one game to make it look a little closer than it was).
  • Much like Kent State, Ohio State isn’t a mature team yet. The Buckeyes have even more new players than KSU, and they didn’t look smooth and consistent on offense and defense. Kent State coach Todd Starkey has said the same thing about his team all season.
  • The Ohio-OSU game had 46 fouls and 34 turnovers. That worked to Ohio’s advantage, I think, as Ohio State didn’t get into much of an offensive flow. It reminded me a little of Kent State’s first quarter against Michigan Friday, when the Flashes took at 16-12 lead. Michigan did its thing for the rest of the game and blew out the Flashes 88-53.
  • Ohio forced 20 turnovers and outscored the Buckeyes by three points off of turnovers. Until Saturday, Kent State had been doing very well in the turnover department. But against Purdue Fort Wayne, perhaps the weakest of the four  teams KSU has played, the Flashes made 22.
  • A number of those turnovers came against a Fort Wayne press, the first time KSU had seen a full-court defense this season. I’m sure Ohio State saw the film. The Buckeyes successfully pressed Ohio late in the fourth quarter. KSU is going to have to prove it can beat it.
  • Ohio took control of the game when it made six-of-seven 3-point shots in the third quarter. Kent State hasn’t had a good 3-point game since its opener at Duquesne, Since then the Flashes are 14 of 56. They were one of 11 in the first half against Michigan. Akron’s 3-points shooting against Michigan was much better and the game much closer — 80-71 Michigan.
  • So the Flashes are going to need to shoot better behind the arc. Ohio shot 33% for the game against Ohio State, and in Ohio State’s first two wins, the Buckeyes held Valparaiso and Cincinnati to four of 42 three-pointers.
  • Ohio State made just four of 21 three-point shots against the Bobcats and are shooting about 31% for the season. Another reason Akron played so much closer to Michigan was that the Wolverines made far fewer 3-pointers themselves. Kent State’s 3-point defense has been average this season.
  • Ohio played good defense for most of the game, holding Ohio State to 36.2%. Kent State hasn’t played good defense for more than two quarters in any game, and KSU opponents are making 46.7% of their shots. If Ohio State does that, KSU won’t have much of a chance.
  • Ohio State has a lot of talent, but it was inconsistent. Star recruit Kierstan Bell of Canton McKinley looked terrific in spots and disappeared in others. A bigger worry is 6-4 forward Dorka Juhasz, a preseason all-Big Ten selection. She had 16 rebounds but was four-of-13 shooting.
  • Ohio has about the same size as Kent State and was outrebounded by Ohio State 50-41. Michigan is bigger than Ohio State and outrebounded the Flashes 45-28.

I have no huge conclusions other than Thursday’s game at the M.A.C.C. — one of the most intriguing matchups in the 30 years I’ve followed KSU women’s basketball — just got even a little more interesting.

Here’s story on Ohio-OSU game from Columbus Dispatch. Author is Henry Palattella, last year’s sports editor of the Kent Stater, who is now working for the Dispatch. Somehow Ohio State player’s name got dropped toward the end of the story. I’m pretty sure it was Dorka Juhasz, the Buckeyes’ 6-4 forward.

Here’s story from Ohio team website, link to Ohio student newspaper column on the game and game box score.

Link to Kent State website with links to roster, statistics and more. Thursday game is doubleheader with the men, who play Division II Concord at 4:30. One ticket gets you in both games.


Hot-shooting 3rd quarter, 14 free throws at end give KSU 75-67 win over Fort Wayne


KSU’s freshman Nila Blackford had her second double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. She’s led KSU in rebounding every game. (Photo from team website.)

Kent State had been looking for a spark off the bench all season, and got a good one Saturday from sophomore Hannah Young.

Young led a third-quarter rally that saw the Flashes make their first 11 shots from the field after halftime. Young went four for four with a 3-point basket during that time.

KSU’s shooting cooled in the fourth quarter, but the Flashes made all 14 of their free throws in the last two minutes to post a 75-67 win over Purdue Fort Wayne.

Kent State’s record is now 3-1; Fort Wayne is 2-3.

Young had scored eight points off the bench against Michigan Friday on two-of-two shooting.  Her 17 points off the bench this weekend are more than all other Kent State reserves combined this season.

“I knew we could use a little bit of a spark,” Young said, “and I came out with every thing I had.”

How does it feel when every shot is going in — for her and the team?

“Honestly, you take your shot and you forget what just happened. Then you keep on going and keep playing your game.”

Coach Todd Starkey said Young played “really well.”

“We always talk about that — you never know what it’s going to be your opportunity,” he said. “And certainly it was hers today., and she took full advantage of it. So I’m really pleased. She’s been working hard.”

Even though Kent State led for all but 15 seconds of the game, it was probably the team’s  worst game in its three victories. The Flashes made 22 turnovers — seven more than their  next highest. Fort Wayne had only 12, the fewest an opponent has had all season, though somehow Kent State outscored the Mastodons 13-12 from turnovers.

“We got careless,” Starkey said. “We weren’t playing connected with each other, and we didn’t execute our press offense very well.”

The cure, freshman Katie Shumate, said, is to “slow down, get set up and stop thinking too much.”

“Having that many turnovers is not going to get us where we want to be.”

Fort Wayne had lost to fellow MAC school Ball State by 31 points and to Akron by 11.

“We’re finding ways to win, but we definitely have a large margin for improvement,” Starkey said. “We have to play much more disciplined on the defensive end. We had way too many turnovers. We gave up way too many offensive rebounds.

“This team is young, but we have to continue to grow.

The key, Starkey said, is more consistency in games and in practice. How does the coaching staff teach consistency?

“By the discipline that you have in practice every day. So we gotta got gotta tighten the screws a little bit in practice and not letting them get away with some things. We’ve  tried to be patient because of our youth, but sometimes when you’re when you’re a little bit too patient, some complacency creeps in.”

Asiah Dingle led KSU with 17 points. Nila Blackford had her second double-double of the season with 16 and 10 rebounds, and Katie Shumate scored 16 points and had three steals. Young and Lindsey Thall had nine points and Megan Carter eight.

Next for the Flashes is their second Big Ten opponent in five days.

Ohio State visits the M.A.C. Center Thursday for the the teams’ first game in 37 years. The Buckeyes are 2-0, including a 78-73 overtime win at Cincinnati. They play MAC favorite Ohio in Columbus Sunday.

Thursday’s game starts about 7:30 p.m. and is the second game of a doubleheader with the KSU men, who play Division II Concord at 5 p.m.

Akron plays Michigan tough but falls 80-71

The Zips led No. 24 Michigan going into the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines outscored Akron 25-13 the rest of the game to win 80-71.

Michigan had beaten Kent State 88-53 on Friday.

On Saturday the Zips made the 3-point shots Kent State had missed the previous day. Michigan had a far lower 3-point percentage than against KSU.

Akron trailed by 15 in the first quarter but rallied to trail by seven at halftime. Then the Zips outscored Michigan 24-14 in the third quarter, finishing the period with two 3-point baskets to take a 68-65 lead.

Michigan went ahead 62-61 on a three-point play two minutes into the fourth quarter and controlled the rest of the game, shooting 70% in the fourth quarter. Against Kent State, Michigan shot 75% in the last 10 minutes.

For the game, Michigan made 59.6% of its shots, even better than the 54.7% they shot against Kent State. But the Wolverines were two of 10 from 3-point distance for the game. Against Kent, Michigan was nine of 17.

Akron made 11 of its 27 three-point shots for 40.7%. Friday KSU was five of 27 for 185%.

Akron is 2-1 on the season. Michigan is 4-0 against four mid-major teams, three of them from the MAC. (The Wolverines beat Western Michigan 76-55 in their opener. They play Notre Dame Saturday and at Eastern Michigan, another MAC team, Nov. 27.)

More on the game is on the Akron website.


  • Kent State outrebounded the Mastodons 41-24. The Flashes had 12 offensive rebounds, Purdue Fort Wayne 11. Fort Wayne outscored KSU on second-chance points 16-7.
  • The Flashes continue to struggle with their passing game on offense. They had only nine assists on 24 baskets and are averaging fewer assists than last year, when they were 311th of 351 Division I teams in assist per game.
  • Kent State made 49% of its shots, its highest of the season by 7 points. The Flashes struggled from the 3-point line for the third straight game. After going 10-for-19 from distance in its opener, KSU has made 14 for 56 since. That’s 25%.
  • Thall had eight rebounds, one off her career high, and blocked two shots. She has blocked eight in four games; last season she led the MAC in blocks. Her three assists equaled a career high.
  • Blackford, a 6-2 freshman from Louisville, Kentucky, has led the team in rebounding in every game and averages 8.8 a game. She was fouled 10 times Saturday and drew nine against Michigan Friday. When she was on the floor Saturday, Kent State outscored Fort Wayne by 18 points.
  • Kent State’s weekend games were part of the Akron Classic, in which Kent and Akron play the same two teams in a two-day event. Next year the games will be in Kent as the Kent Classic.

Box score


An earlier version of this story said Kent State made 12 free throws in the last two minutes. I counted wrong. It was 14.

After first quarter, No. 24 Michigan overwhelms KSU in 88-53 victory


KSU freshman Katie Shumate scored 10 points, her third straight game in double figures. (Photo from team Twitter feed.)

Coach Todd Starkey said it wasn’t going to be a long postgame press conference.

The reason for Kent State’s 88-53 loss to Michigan Friday was pretty self evident.

“We just got beat by a bigger and more athletic team that’s better than we are,” he said.

The Wolverines are ranked 24th in the country and picked to finish second in the Big Ten. They start five players 6 foot or taller, including one of the best players in the Big Ten, 6-2 sophomore forward Naz Hillmon. (Kent has that tall on its whole roster),

The game started nicely for Kent State fans. With neither team shooting or handling the ball well, the Flashes fought to a 16-12 lead after the first quarter, scoring six points off of six Michigan turnovers.

But after that, Michigan just played better and better. The Wolverines made 42% of their shots in the second quarter, 68% in the third and 75% in the fourth. They made 53% of their 3-point shots.

KSU didn’t shoot better than 37% in any quarter and made just five of 27 three-pointers (18.5%).

Michigan is now 3-0 on the season. Kent State is 2-1.

“When you play against teams that are that good and that big, your mistakes are magnified,” Starkey said. “And so our quick shots, careless turnovers and our lack of communication and transition defense was exposed in a big way in the second half.”

Starkey has talked about a lack of “consecutiveness” on the team all season. It was evident Friday, he said.

“We’ve got talented players that can make individual plays, but we’re not playing connected,” Starkey said. “Defensively we’re off. You saw some evidence of this in our first two games, but Michigan took advantage of that. They had two games to scout and see our holes. And they exposed them.”

Slowed by Michigan’s length and talent, the Flashes struggled to run any kind of offense. KSU had one assist on 11 first-half baskets and seven on 18 for the game.

On defense, the Flashes watched Michigan score inside, on 3-point shots and on fast breaks. 

“In the second half, they decided they were just going to throw it inside and see if we can stop them,” Starkey said. “We had trouble with that. Then they did a good job playing inside-out, they knocked down 3s, and the third quarter got away from us.”

Sophomore point guard Asiah Dingle led KSU with 12 points. Freshman guard Katie Shumate had 10, and sophomore forward Lindsey Thall, freshman forward Nila Blackford and sophomore reserve guard Hannah Young had eight each.

After the game, the team filed back into the James A. Rhodes Arena to watch Akron play Purdue Fort Wayne, Kent’s opponent on Saturday.

“We have to have a short-term memory and put it behind us,” Starkey said.

Said Blackford, “This is not a game that defines us. We learn from it and get better.”

Lots of playing time

Kent State’s starters all had averaged more than 35 minutes in the Flashes’ first two games, and Starkey had said he wanted to use his bench more. He did, but not completely for the reasons he planned.

Thall, Blackford and Dingle all picked up two fouls in the first half. Senior Megan Carter had three. As Michigan ran up the score, the coach cleared the bench. So everybody on the roster played except senior Ali Poole, who has been recovering from a knee injury. She was in uniform but on the bench wearing a very large knee brace.

All of these people played more minutes than in the first two games combined:

  • Freshman guard Clare Kelly:  (one 3-pointer, an assist and a steal in 21 minutes),.
  • Senior forward Sydney Brinlee (two rebounds in 17 minutes).
  • Sophomore guard Hannah Young (two-for-two shooting with a 3-pointers and three-for-three shooting in eight minutes).
  • Sophomore forward Annie Pavlansky (eight minutes).
  • Junior forward Monique Smith (two points in seven minutes) all played more than they did in the first two games combined.

Sophomore guard Mariah Modkins, who played a total of 10 minutes in the first two games, had two assists in eight minutes. Junior guard Margaux Eibel played her first two minutes of the season.


  • The two statistics that Kent State won were steals (8-5 KSU) and points off of turnovers, where the Flashes scored 15 to Michigan’s nine. KSU has led in that category all three games. In the game, Kent had 14 turnovers, Michigan 13.
  • Otherwise, it was all Michigan: 45-28 rebounding, 48-30 in the paint, 19-7 in assists, 31-13 in bench scoring.
  • Attendance was listed at 213,. I’d estimate Kent had 100 or so supporters there.
  • It was Michigan’s biggest margin of the year against the three mid-majors it has played. The Wolverines beat Western Michigan 76-55 and Bradley by 77-57. Their shooting percentage against Kent was 9 points higher than it was against either team. Kent’s shooting percentage was slightly higher than either of Michigan’s  other opponents.
  • It was Kent State’s second-biggest margin of defeat in Starkey’s four years. The Flashes lost to then No. 4 Baylor by 40 his first season.
  • Saturday’s game against Fort Wayne is at noon at the JAR with a $6 admission that gets you in both games. (Akron plays Michigan at about 2:30.) It’s all part of the Akron Classic, in which Kent State and Akron play the same two teams over two days. On alternate years, including next season, the event is in Kent and becomes the Kent Classic.
  • In Friday’s other game, Akron beat Purdue Fort Wayne 64-53 to go 2-0 on the season. Fort Wayne is 2-2.

Box score


Flashes take on No. 24 Michigan Friday — in part of doubleheader at the JAR in Akron


Lindsay Thall is Kent State’s second-leading scorer at 16 points a game and has blocked six shots in two games. (Photo by David Dermer.)

KSU’s 2020 recruiting class includes all-state guard and 6-4 center. Here’s link.


Kent State coach Todd Starkey had just been asked about the challenges No. 24 Michigan will present to his team in its game on Friday.

“Oh, wow,” he said. “Where do I begin?”

Let’s try this:

  • Michigan starts two sophomores who were high school all-Americans.
  • One, 6-2 forward Naz Hillmon, was Big Ten freshman of the year last season and a unanimous preseason all-Big Ten selection this year.
  • All five starters are taller than six feet. (“Bigger than we are at every position,” Starkey said.)
  • 6-foot-4 freshman Izabel Varejão, niece of former Cav Anderson Varejao, comes off the bench.
  • Michigan was 22-12 last season and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. Media members picked the Wolverines second in the Big Ten this season.

Michigan is 2-0, with 20-point home wins over mid-majors Western Michigan and Bradley. Both of those teams ranked lower than KSU last season. Kent State is also 2-0 with close road wins over mid-majors Duquesne and Youngstown State.

The game is at the unusual time of 2 p.m. Friday at the James A. Rhodes Arena at the University of Akron. It’s part of the Akron Classic, a two-day event in which Kent and Akron play the same teams. Next year the event will be in Kent and be the Kent State Classic.

The Flashes will play Purdue Fort Wayne at noon Saturday.

“It’s going to be a task for us,” Starkey said. “We’re going to have to play much better and more efficient basketball than we have in our first two games.”

Like Michigan, Duquesne was bigger than Kent State at most positions. The Dukes outrebounded KSU 29-17 on the way to a seven-point first-half lead. Kent State managed a 17-15 rebounding edge in the second half, when some of Duquesne’s bigger, more experienced players were in foul trouble.

“In our first two games, we didn’t come out and play our best to start with,” Starkey said, a statement echoed by players Asiah Dingle and Megan Carter after the Youngstown State game, when KSU trailed by five at halftime.

“And we’ve have to get much better ball movement,” Starkey said. “We’re trying to do way too much one-on-one basketball, trying to create things ourselves as opposed to sharing the ball. Ball movement and spacing are the enemy of defenses. So we’ve got to get better.”

The Flashes have 17 assists on 53 baskets this season. Their 8.5 average is even worse than last year, when the Flashes ranked 311th of 351 teams at 10.6 per game.

“Defensively we’ve have to be be a lot more connected,” the coach said. “When there’s better communication on the defensive side, you can do some things to counter the other team is doing.”

Starkey has talked a lot about “connection” this season. It’s more than just players talking to each other on defense, he said.

“It’s a level of comfort with playing with the people around you,” he said. “And that only comes with experience. When you’re playing three players that weren’t even a part of the program last year, that affects the chemistry onto court — not how they get along, but how they function together as a unit. We’re going to get better. But it’s something that we knew was probably going to be the case” early in the season.

KSU’s top five players — Carter, Dingle, freshman guard Katie Shumate, freshman forward Nila Blackford and sophomore forward Lindsay Thall — have averaged 37 minutes apiece in two games. (That’s somewhat distorted by the five-minute overtime at Youngstown State.)

Next highest is freshman guard Clare Kelly’s seven minutes and senior forward Sydney Brinlee and sophomore guard Mariah Modkins’ five and a half minutes.

“That’s a puzzle piece that we’re working through, and it’s certainly on the front burner,” Starkey said. “I just have to do a better job of our substitution patterns.  It’s my continuing to grow my level of trust with certain lineups.

“We’ve got to get more minutes from our bench players, but it can’t just be a matter of just playing people to play them. We need people that are ready to come in and contribute.”

Kent State’s top five all average in double figures. Outside of them, KSU has scored a total of eight points this season.


  • Senior Ali Poole, who suffered a knee injury in August, didn’t dress against Youngstown after playing 13 minutes at Duquesne. “It’s kind of tweaked again,” Starkey said. “We’re working to get her back on the court, but we don’t know the exact timeline.” Poole started 19 games last season and was KSU’s fourth leading scorer.
  • Michigan’s Hillmon went to high school at Cleveland’s Gilmour Academy and was twice Ohio Division II player of the year. She is a close friend of Kent State guard Mariah Modkins, who played with her in AAU basketball. Modkins went to Solon High School.
  • Wolverine point guard Amy Dilk was a five-star recruit out of Carmel High School in Indiana. She was the state’s Miss Basketball in 2018.
  • Kent State has played Michigan twice in Starkey’s four seasons. The Flashes have played well in both games, but lost 67-60 in the WNIT in 2016 and 54-41 in non-conference play in December 2016 after leading at halftime. Overall KSU is 0-5 against the Wolverines. All of the games have been in Ann Arbor.
  • Purdue Fort Wayne, KSU’s Saturday opponent, is 2-1 but lost to the MAC’s Ball State by 31 points on Tuesday. The school has variously been called Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne, IPFW and just Fort Wayne over the last five years.
  • Akron is 1-0 after a 63-54 victory at St. Bonaventure Monday. Kent State plays Bonaventure at the M.A.C.C. on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
  • Kent State’s RPI, which was eighth of 353 Division I teams earlier in the week, has dropped to 63rd without the Flashes’ playing a game. Ball State, which is 1-1, is the new eights. Early season RPIs make no sense because there is not enough data for a decent computation.

How to follow the game

The game starts at 2 p.m. in Akron’s James A. Rhodes Arena, which is a 20-minute drive from Kent. If you’re using a GPS, the address is 373 Carroll St, Akron. Here are directions and parking information from the school website. Tickets are $6 and also get you into the Akron-Fort Wayne game, which starts a half hour after the KSU game ends. Parking at UA’s nearby garages is $3 to $5.

Saturday’s game against Fort Wayne starts at noon.

As far as I can tell, neither game is televised.

Radio broadcast should start about 1:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio and WHLO (640 AM). Broadcast of the Fort Wayne game should start about 11:45 a.m.

Live statistics during both games can be found on the Akron website.

Preview from KSU team website, including links to roster, schedule, statistics and more.

Detailed media game notes from Kent State.

Preview from Michigan website, including links.

Michigan media game notes.





Flashes’ 2020 recruiting class includes two-time all-stater and 6-4 forward

KSU recruits Casey Santoro (photo from a tweet from her father and coach) and Lexi Jackson (from KSU Twitter feed).

Kent State signed the two Class of 2020 recruits it had expected on Wednesday, and both look like strong additions to the Flashes for next year and beyond,

Wednesday was the first day high school players could sign a national letter of intent  and the first day coaches could comment on their new players. Both players had tweet earlier that they planned to sign with Kent State.

The new Flashes are:

5-4 guard Casey Santoro

She’s a two-time first-team all-state guard from Bellevue High School, which is about halfway between Cleveland and Columbus. Santoro was district player of the year both her sophomore and juniors years.

She averaged 21.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 4.0 steals per game during her junior year and 22.5 points as a sophomore. Santoro last year scored 40 points in a game where she made 10 three-point shots.

“What I love first about Casey is her toughness,” KSU coach Todd Starkey said in an interview Wednesday. “She’s hyper competitive and a very smart player. She makes players around her better.

“As a point guard, she’s a phenomenal shooter. So you can’t help off of her; you have to know where she is at all times.”

Starkey said KSU had watched Santoro in high school and AAU basketball for several years.

“She was a player that we wanted  in our program. She came to campus,  enjoyed it and committed,” the coach said. “Sometimes a fit just happens quickly.

Santoro is 5-4, about the same size as current sophomore point guard Asiah Dingle. 

“She’s feisty,” the coach said “She doesn’t back down from anybody, I’m a results coach. I don’t care what their size is.”

Bellevue last season went 24-3 and was ranked eighth in the state in Division II. It lost in the regional finals. The team has won nine straight championships in two different leagues and five district titles in the past six seasons.

Casey is the sister of Carly Santoro, who was an all-MAC player for Bowling Green. Carly graduated early and transferred to Ohio State, where she started last season.  The Santoro sisters’ father, Kory, is Bellevue’s head girls coach. A younger sister, Corey, is a junior on the Bellevue team and was second-team all-district last season.

6-4 center Lexi Jackson

Jackson is either 6-3 or 6-4, depending on what website you’re reading. She was a third-team member of the Pennsylvania Sports Writers 5A all-state team last season. One recruiting service ranked her the third best power forward in Pennsylvania.

At Gateway High School in suburban Pittsburgh, she averaged 16 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks a game last season. In one game, she had a triple-double of 37 points, 16 rebounds and 11 blocks.

“When you see her walking in the door, she has a presence with her size, ” Starkey said. “As you with her play, you really feel like her best basketball is definitely ahead of her. She’s still kind of learning how good she could be. I think she’ll just grow in her confidence and strength in as she goes through her senior year and gets here next year.”

Her team finished 19-4 last season, won its league title and lost in the regional quarterfinals.

Jackson had offers from at least four other mid-majors, including Western Michigan and James Madison, according to TribLive, a Pittsburgh online news site.

How they fit in

Kent State will lose seniors Megan Carter, Ali Poole and Sydney Brinlee to graduation. Carter was KSU’s leading scorer last season and was a preseason all-MAC East player this year. Poole has played both forward and wing and started 19 games last season. She was the team’s fourth leading scorer at 8.8 points a game but currently is limited because of a knee injury. Brinlee is a reserve forward who averaged five minutes a game last season and probably will play more this year.

Besides the two incoming freshmen, next year’s Flashes will have 6-4 Indiana transfer Linsey Marchese, who can practice but not play this season because of NCAA transfer rules. Marchese was a highly ranked high school recruit out of Georgia who was recruited by Starkey when he was an Indiana assistant. ESPN ranked her as a three-star recruit and the 14th best high school center in the country. Marchese was a backup at Indiana, averaging about 11 minutes a game over two years.

She, Jackson, current 6-2 freshman Nila Blackford and current 6-2 sophomore Lindsay Thall will give the flashes as much size on the front line as they’ve had in my memory.

“It’s going to be really good for both Lexi and Linsey to have to play against each other in practice every day,” Starkey said.

Santoro will have a chance to compete to replace Carter. Starkey has shown that he has no problem with playing two point guards together. But Santoro will have lots of competition; current freshman Clare Kelly was one of the best shooters in Ohio in high school. Current sophomore Hannah Young was the team’s top backup at shooting guard and wing last season.

The two-person class is the smallest in Starkey’s four years at Kent State. He said he didn’t expect to sign anyone else in the early signing period but that the team was still recruiting for possible spring signings. Undergraduate or graduate transfers are common in this era, and most of them are announced in April or later.

The Flashes still have two open scholarships for 2020 — more if someone transfers out, which has happened the last two years.

KSU will graduate guard Margaux Eibel and forward Monique Smith in 2021. Neither has played major minutes for the Flashes. Their recruiting class was put together in just four months after Starkey was named head coach in 2015. Three other members of that class have left the team. Eibel was a walk-on who earned a scholarship.

My mistake

When Jackson tweeted her verbal commitment to Kent State in October, I wrote that she was the third member of the new recruiting class. KSU coaches had tweeted of a commitment in June, but NCAA rules don’t allow them to name names until signing day. It turns out that recruit was Jackson.

KSU’s current team is 2-0 going into a game with Michigan Friday.

Before this Friday’s game vs. Michigan, Kent State is 5-29 against Big Ten teams

Big Ten logoKSU logomac-logo-1.jpg

The last time Kent State beat a Big Ten team was Dec. 21, 2001, when the Flashes defeated Indiana 77-66 in Kent. That’s 18 years; only a few of Kent State’s players could have been alive then.

Overall the Flashes are 5-29 against Big Ten teams. That doesn’t count Nebraska and Penn State; KSU was 0-5 combined against those two schools before they joined the Big Ten.

This season the Flashes play Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue. The Michigan game is Friday at the Akron Classic. Next Thursday the Flashes will play Ohio State in Kent in the first meeting between the two teams in 37 years. On Dec. 3, KSU will travel to Purdue.

Kent State is 2-0 so far this season with wins at Duquesne and at Youngstown State.

It’s only the second time in school history the team has played three Big Ten schools. The first was three years ago, when KSU played Minnesota and Iowa during the regular season and Michigan in the WNIT.

Kent State’s five wins came against Indiana, Illinois in 1994, Michigan State in 1981 and Purdue in 1980 and 1981.

The Big Ten and MAC play about five or six games a year. The Michigan schools have played Michigan State and Michigan pretty consistently over the last five years. Ball State seems to play Purdue most seasons. But Toledo has played only three Big Ten teams in the last five years, Bowling Green just one. Ohio has played nine games against the conference.

For many years, the power conferences like the Big Ten didn’t like to schedule good MAC teams at all — especially on the road. They could only lose in prestige in those games. Sometimes they would pay mid-majors like the MAC to play them at home in what usually would be an easy early season win.

The only home games the MAC plays against the Big Ten this season are Michigan’s game at Akron and Kent State’s game against Ohio State.

Things may change a little as the NCAA emphasizes “quality wins” in tournament selection and seeding. It’s a considerably more significant win if, for example, Indiana were to beat Toledo at Toledo than if Toledo loses at Indiana. RPI ratings count a road win more than double a home win.

Games do happen in postseason tournaments. Central Michigan beat Ohio State in Columbus two years ago and lost to Michigan State in East Lansing last season in the NCAA tournament. Northwestern played both Ohio and Toledo in last year’s WNIT. Kent State has played Michigan twice in the WNIT.

I looked at the record of all MAC schools against the Big Ten over the last five years, a time when the MAC has been as strong as ever. Here’s what I found:

  • Akron 0-2.
  • Ball State 1-4.
  • Bowling Green 0-1.
  • Buffalo 2-1.
  • Central Michigan 2-5.
  • Eastern Michigan 1-5.
  • Kent State 0-6.
  • Miami 0-3.
  • Northern Illinois 0-4.
  • Ohio 4-5.
  • Toledo 0-3.
  • Western Michigan 0-9.

That’s an overall record of 10-46. Eight of the wins were by Buffalo, Central and Ohio, the conference’s best teams over that period. Ball State beat Purdue in the year when the Cardinals went undefeated in non-conference play. Eastern Michigan beat Rutgers in 2015.

So far this season Eastern Michigan has lost to Michigan State 85-50 and Western Michigan to Michigan 76-55. Akron plays Michigan Saturday in Akron.

Later in the season Northern Illinois is at Purdue, Ohio is at Ohio State, Michigan is at Eastern Michigan, Ball State is at Wisconsin in an Hawaii tournament, and Bowling Green is at Purdue.

Here’s Kent State’s all-time record against the Big Ten:

  • Illinois 1-2.
  • Indiana 1-3.
  • Iowa 0-3.
  • Michigan 0-5.
  • Michigan State 1-3.
  • Minnesota 0-3.
  • Northwestern 0-2.
  • Ohio State 0-6 (all games before 1983).
  • Purdue 2-2.

Kent State is 0-3 against Nebraska and 0-2 against Penn State, but all of those games came when those teams were in other conferences.

The Flashes have never played Maryland, Rutgers and Wisconsin.


2-0 Flashes getting big numbers from freshmen, still learning on defense


Freshman Nila Blackford had 19 rebounds and 25 points in two games last week. (Photo from KSU website.)


We’re No. 8.

Want a crazy number? Kent State is eighth in the country in super-early RPI rankings, according to RealTimeRPI, the service I use most. That’s out of 353 Division I teams.

Of course RPIs based on two games don’t mean much of anything. But, heck, it’s fun to see it. Kent State got its ranking by winning two games on the road against decent opponents. Road wins count heavily toward a good ranking.

RPI is based on a team’s record, its opponents record and opponents’ opponents’ record. Home wins count 0.6. Road wins count 1.4. Neutral site games — like KSU’s game against Michigan at the Akron Classic this Friday — count 1.0. RPI is used to some extent for  seedings in postseason tournaments and as fodder for fan discussions.

According to the RealTimeRPI rankings, No. 1 is TCU. Princeton is second and Navy third. Oregon, the top-ranked team in both the Associated Press and coaches’ poll, isn’t even ranked yet because it hasn’t played a regular season game. It only beat the U.S. National team in an exhibition game Sunday.

RealTimeRPI also does Power Rankings, which also take into account a team’s record last season, margin of victory and other factors. Kent State is 180th in that one. And so early-season rankings go.

If you follow the link, the rankings may well have changed. ReadTimeRPI updates them constantly.

About the freshmen and the defense

It’s Michigan week — featuring the first of three games against Big Ten teams — for the Kent State women’s basketball team.

The Flashes face the No. 24 Wolverines at 2 p.m. Friday in the Akron Classic at the James A. Rhodes Arena. Later in the preseason, they face Ohio State in Kent and Purdue in West Lafayette.

Michigan is 2-0, with wins in Ann Arbor over Western Michigan (76-55) and Bradley (77-57). We’ll be writing a lot more about the Wolverines this week, but first let’s take stock of Kent State, which is 2-0 with road wins against Duquesne and Youngstown State.

Freshman punch

First-year players Nila Blackford and Katie Shumate played key roles in the Flashes’ wins. Shumate scored 17 points against Duquesne and 16 against YSU and leads the Flashes in scoring at 16.5 points a game. Blackford led KSU in rebounding in both games (nine against the Dukes, 10 against the Penguins). She also averages 12.5 points a game.

“It’s a nice thing to have those two,” coach Todd Starkey said, “and they’re just learning as they go. They’ll continue to get better and better. I’ve just told them, ‘You two just play hard, and we’ll make corrections as you go. I don’t want you to play passive.'”

Blackford worked very hard under the basket in both games. She had six offensive rebounds in the first half against YSU. Against Duquesne, she grabbed a rebound in traffic in the last minute to keep the score tied.

“She’s a lot to handle,” Starkey said. “She got really frustrated (against Youngstown) when she struggled to finish. If she makes some of those layups, she’s probably got 25 points instead of 14.”

Blackford is a 6-2 forward from Louisville. She was all-state first team, regional player of the year and a finalist for Kentucky Miss Basketball. She comes from an athletic family. Her mother played basketball and her father played football at the University of Louisville.

Shumate, a 5-11 guard from Newark, is from another family of athletes. Her father, JR, was her high school coach and leads one of the most successful programs in the state. Her sister, Emma, just verbally committed to West Virginia. Her brother was a sophomore at Walsh University and was freshman of the year in the Division II Great Midwest Athletic Conference. Katie was second team all-state and district player of the year in high school.

Shumate is second on the team in rebounding to Blackford, averaging six per game. She’s also second on the team in steals and tied for second in assists and blocked shots. She’s probably been KSU’s best defender in both games. Saturday she held Youngstown point guard Chelsea Olson, who had a triple-double in YSU’s opener, to five points, three assists and six rebounds.

“Katie always takes on the difficult tasks,” senior guard Megan Carter, KSU’s leading scorer last season, said after the Youngstown game. ” and I think that starts in practice. She guards  me every day. So Megan, I’ll be there. We go at it pretty much every day.”

Unsettled defense

Still, Starkey thinks the Flashes need the most work on defense. In both games, Kent had one terrible quarter and was solidly behind after the first half.

“The defense right now is a little bit of our Achilles heel,” the coach said. “We’ve got to get better at communication and shore things up, especially against Michigan on Friday.”

Opponents shot better than 50% in the first half of both games. But the Flashes allowed Duquesne to 13 in the fourth quarter and YSU to 12 in the fourth quarter and seven in overtime.

“Much better defense down the stretch,” Starker said after both games.

The view from Youngstown State

Coach John Barnes, as quoted in the Jambar, YSU’s student newspaper:

““I think it was a hard fought game against a good team. [We were] in a position to win the game. They did either a good job of taking it away from us, or we did a good job of giving it to them.”

“We just were very soft. I think our toughness was not there when it came down the stretch. Throughout the game, we played hard and we were pretty tough, but when it came to crunch time, we had a lot of bad turnovers and mental mistakes.”

““Turnovers (YSU 22, KSU 10) and offensive rebounds (KSU 18, YSU 9) were the difference.”


  • Kent State averaged 79.5 points in its first two games and gave up 74.0. That’s well above both numbers last year, when KSU averaged 65.5 and allowed 63.2. KSU’s shooting percentage is 39.0, slightly better than last year’s 37.2. Its defensive percentage is 46.3, way above last season’s 38.4. Three-point defense is about the same, so opponents are doing much better inside the arc, where the new lineup struggling some with team defense.
  • Kent State’s turnover margin averaged plus-9.5 in the two games. They averaged 14.5 more points off turnovers than their opponents. Last season the turnover margin was plus-5.2 and points-off-turnover margin was plus-2.7. Starkey has made it a point of emphasis this season to score more off the other team’s mistakes.
  • All five Kent State starters average in double figures. But all five average more than 34 minutes a game. Shumate played all but one minute against Duquesne; Blackford played all but one minute against Youngstown. Next highest is another freshman, Clare Kelly, who played seven minutes in both games.
  • Sophomore guard Hannah Young saw her first action of the season Saturday, playing three minutes. She was one of the team’s top reserves last season.
  • Sophomore Annie Pavlansky, just about the last person off the bench last year, played minutes in a close game for the second straight time. She’s from Cortland, about 17 miles from Youngstown. She has filled in for Blackford and Lindsay Thall at forward.
  • KSU has averaged just 8.5 assists in the two games. Last season the Flashes averaged 10.6 assists, which was 311th of 351 Division I teams.

Around the MAC

  • Ohio (1-1) 81, American (0-1) 69 at Ohio. Ohio, which lost its opener to No. 21 Syracuse, is the MAC favorite. American was picked fifth in the Patriot League. Ohio’s Erica Johnson had the team’s first triple-double in history — 24 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists.
  • Northern Illinois (1-1) 74, North Dakota State (0-2) 68 in overtime at North Dakota State. NIU was picked second in the MAC West. North Dakota State was picked seventh in the Summit League.
  • Bowling Green (2-0) 79, Morehead State (0-1) 65 at Bowling Green. BG was picked last in the MAC East. Morehead State made the WNIT last season and was picked fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference.
  • Dayton (2-0) 60, Toledo (1-1) 42 in Toledo. Dayton was picked second in the Atlantic 10. Toledo was picked third in the MAC East.
  • Buffalo (2-0) 81, Niagara (0-2) 67 at Niagara. Buffalo is picked second in the MAC East. Niagara was picked seventh in the Metro Atlantic.
  • Akron (1-0) 63, St. Bonaventure (1-2) 65 at St. Bonaventure. Akron was picked fifth in the MAC East. St. Bonaventure, which plays at Kent Dec. 3, was picked 13th in the Atlantic 10.
  • No. 18 DePaul 98 (1-0), Miami (0-1) 79 in preseason WNIT at DePaul. Miami was picked fourth in the MAC East.
  • No. 24 Michigan 76 (2-0), West Michigan (0-1) 55 at Michigan. Kent State plays Michigan Friday. Western was picked fifth in the MAC East.


Flashes rally in overtime to win 2nd straight, 82-73, over YSU


Sophomores Asiah Dingle (3) and Mariah Modkins celebrate after overtime. (Photo from KSU Twitter feed.)

The KSU women’s basketball team knew its first two games were going to be important and difficult.

The Flashes managed to win both of them — but they were so very close.

After beating Duquesne 77-75 on a last-second shot Tuesday, Kent State rallied to force overtime at Youngstown State Saturday. Then they polished off the Penguins 82-73.

The games were critical for a Kent team that has aspirations of a big season. Both opponents were strong mid-majors (they won a total 41 games last season). Both games were on the road, where statistics show a team is less than half as likely to win as at home.

“We knew these first two games were going to be really difficult,” coach Todd Starkey said after the game. “We  knew that if we were going to have any success in the non-conference, we needed to get off to a good start.

“I’m happy we found another way to win.”

The game followed the pattern of the win over Duquesne. The Flashes fell behind in the first half (seven points at Duquesne, 32-27 at YSU). They rallied behind good defense and timely scoring.

“We had talked about it in the locker room, trying to start off strong so that we don’t have to fight at the end,” said sophomore guard Asiah Dingle, who had 18 points. “But I guess it means we’re good at fighting, right?”

Kent State trailed 54-47 going into the fourth quarter. The Flashes held YSU to four of 11 shots in the fourth quarter and two of nine in overtime.

“We were doing some light pressure to try to keep them out of rhythm offensively,” Starkey said. “They were doing a good job of running all the way through their offense and hitting on the third of fourth option.

“When our players were picking up more full court, (the Penguins)  were working off more of a 23-second shot clock. By pressing, they could only get to the first or second option before they needed to take a shot.”

The pressure also helped lead Kent to seven steals in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Flashes scored 13 points on 10 YSU turnovers in that time.

A key stretch came after the Penguins had taken their biggest lead of the game — 61-53 — with 7:26 to go. The Flashes ran off nine points in a row over three minutes to take the lead on two free throws by Lindsay Thall. The teams were within two points until the end of regulation. Thall hit two more free throws with 43 seconds to go to tie the game.

In overtime, the teams were tied at 71 with 2:16 to go when play stopped for almost three minutes while the referees sorted out whether a foul on Thall was her fourth or fifth. (It was the fourth.)

Dingle waited at the scorer’s table to check in all that time.  When she got in, she scored on a driving layup 22 seconds later to give Kent State the lead for good. Seventeen seconds later, Nila Blackford stole a pass. Then Megan Carter was fouled on a three-point attempt with the shot clock expiring. She made all three shots and Youngstown State could never regroup.

For the second game in a row, five KSU players scored in double figures. Dingle had 19 and Carter 18.

Dingle also had five steals, equaling her career high, and eight rebounds, which is one off her career high. She made eight of 16 shots.

Carter made nine of 11 free throws, had two steals and drew 10 YSU fouls.

Freshman Katie Shumate had 16 points, eight rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. For much of the game she guarded Chelsea Olson, who had a triple-double with 11 assists in YSU’s 87-59 win over Canisius Tuesday. Against Shumate, Olson had three assists and fouled out.

“(Shumate) is going to keep improving” Starkey said. “She still doesn’t know college defensive concepts well. She’s just a really good player and acts on instinct. When she starts picking up some of the intricacies of defense, she’s going to be really difficult to handle.”

Blackford had 14 points and 10 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds in the first half. She also had two assists, two steals and blocked two shots while playing all but 26 seconds of the game. Blackford was one rebound short of a double-double in her first game.

Thall had 10 points, two steals and two blocks. She has blocked six shots in two games. Thall led KSU with 22 points against Duquesne, but Youngstown allowed her only four shots. “They had a really good game plan for us,” Starkey said.


  • Kent State outrebounded YSU 41-36 and had 18 offensive rebounds. The Flashes led Youngstown in second-chance points 18-12.
  • Kent State made 26 of 72 shots for 36.1%. In a difficult second quarter, the Flashes made only four of 22. The Penguins made 45.2% of their 62 shots. Kent won its second straight game while shooting worse than its opponent.
  • Also for the second game, the Flashes forced the other team into far more fouls. Youngstown committed 27 and had two starters foul out. KSU made 24 of 36 free throws. The Flashes had 17 fouls.
  • Senior Sydney Brinlee hit a three-point shot for her first points of the season. Sophomore guard Mariah Modkins hit two free throws for her first points. But the YSU bench outscored Kent’s 21-5.
  • Senior Ali Poole, who has been fighting a knee injury, didn’t dress. She had played 13 minutes against Duquesne.

Box score

All about the Flashes’ 77-75 win at Duquesne.


On the road again: Flashes play Youngstown State on Saturday


Kent State’s Asiah Dingle Drives on Duquesne’s Amanda Kalin during Tuesday’s game, won by KSU 77-75. Dingle had 12 points, four assists and two steals. (Photo by David Dermer.)

Both Kent State and Youngstown State got the victories they wanted in their openers.

Now the teams meet Saturday in the second big road challenge for the Flashes this season. The game is at 1 p.m. in the Beeghley Center at YSU.

A second-half rally brought KSU from 13 points behind to a 77-75 win at Duquesne Tuesday. Senior Megan Carter hit a four-foot floater with 0.2 seconds to go for the game-winning basket.

Youngstown routed Canisius 87-59 behind a triple-double from junior guard Chelsea Olson, who had 13 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

This game should be very different for the Penguins. Canisius hasn’t had a winning season since 2008-09 and had lost to YSU three straight times.

Kent State has beaten Youngstown all three years Todd Starkey has been head coach. Last year KSU destroyed the Penguins 62-34 in Kent, the Flashes’most lopsided win of the year against a Division I team  and the most lopsided loss of the year for YSU.

KSU held Youngstown to 17.2% shooting in that game. Carter led the Flashes with 20 points; Mariah Modkins, starting in place of an injured Asiah Dingle, had 14.

Youngstown State went on to a 22-10 season and a berth in the WNIT. The Penguins were 15-1 at home last season.

The Penguins lost their top two scorers from last season to graduation but have added 5-5 transfer guard Ny’Dajah Jackson from Providence, who led YSU in scoring with 22 points Tuesday. 5-8 redshirt freshman guard Taylor Petit scored 15 and 6-3 senior forward Mary Dunn had 13. Dunn was first-team all-Horizon League last remember; Olson was second team.

Here’s link to YSU story on Canisius game, which in turn links to the box score, comments from coach John Barnes and players, the team roster and schedule and more.

Like Duquesne, Youngstown is a successful program, averaging 18 wins a season over the last five years.

Against Duquesne, five Kent State players scored in double figures, something that happened only once last season. Sophomore forward Lindsay Thall scored 22, freshman guard Katie Shumate 17, Dingle and Carter each had 12, and freshman forward Nila Blackford had 11. Blackford led the Flashes with nine rebounds.

KSU made 52.6% of its 3-point shots, include five of six in the second half. Thall made six of nine, one basket off the school record. Shumate made two of two.

In the second half, Kent State shot 53.9% overall and outrebounded Duquesne 17-15 after being beaten on the boards 29-13 in the first half.. In the game, KSU forced 21 Duquesne turnovers and scored 24 points off of them.

To follow the game

The game is at 1 p.m. at the Beeghly Center, which is at 224 W. Spring St. in Youngstown. It’s “Food Can Drive” game. Tickets are $5 if you bring a canned good. Others, they are $12. Here is information on tickets, parking and more from the YSU website.

Audio starts at about 12:45 p.m. on  Golden Flash iHeart Radio.

Video is streamed on ESPN3, which is a free streaming service if you get EPSN.

Live statistics during the game are available through Youngstown State website.

Kent State team site, which has links to roster, schedule, statistics and more.

Youngstown State site, with links.