Kent State can win its last home game against the University of Buffalo Saturday.
It proved that when it fought to the end at Buffalo — a hard place to play — and lost by only two points.
But the Flashes have to do one thing they haven’t been able to do very well this season: Take care of the basketball.
Kent State commits more turnovers than any team in the MAC. Buffalo leads the league in steals. Kent State led the Bulls by nine points at halftime at Buffalo. But in the second half, Buffalo turned on the offensive pressure, stole the ball 12 times and turned 17 Kent State turnovers into 20 points.
The other thing Kent State has to do is something it can be good at — rebounding. The Flashes hold a +1.9 rebounding advantage over opponents this season. But Buffalo is the best offensive rebounding team in the MAC, getting more than 16 a game and having a leads the conference-best .392 offensive rebounding percentage. That’s a complicated statistic that means that if Buffalo misses a shot, it gets the rebound 39 percent of the time. The Bulls got 11 second-chance points in that second half at Buffalo.
Buffalo may force a lot of turnovers but also commits a lot — 17.3 a game, second most in the conference after the Flashes. The Bulls also are the worst three-point shooting team in the league — 23.5 percent — and make only four three-pointers a game. (Of course, Kent State is the second worst team in the league at defending the three-point shot — allowing opponents to make 34.4 percent or 6.5 shots per game.
The game is Senior Day — the last home game for four Flashes. Looking at their careers:
Cici Shannon: The 6-4 center has fiinally developed into one of the conference’s most dominant post players, especially on defense. She averages almost 11 rebounds a game in conference play — two more than any other player. She is third in the league in blocked shots. Buffalo’s Christa Baccas is first; the two had quite a battle in their first game. Shannon averages 9.6 points a game — up 2.5 points a game from last year — and has had eight double-doubles this season. She transferred to Kent Kent after two years at Southern Illinois.
Mikell Chinn: Kent State’s point guard has never scored much but is one of the best assist artists in school history. This season she leads the MAC inn conference play with 5.4 assists per game. That would be the fifth best in Kent State history — and she’s done that on a team that averages only 20 baskets a game. Michele Burden, Kent State’s career assist leader, played on uptempo teams that averaged in the 80s. She is a junior college transfer from Cincinnati
Montia Johnson: The forward was Kent State’s leading scorer a year ago but missed six weeks this season with a concussion. She’s a transfer from Crowley College, where she was an honorable mention junior college All American.
Melanee Stubbs: The wing-guard is the last Kent State player to be recruited by former coach Bob LIndsay. She missed last season with a knee injury but has started 17 games this season, scoring last-second winning baskets against Colgate and Northern Illinois.