Two and a half minutes into Saturday’s game, Ball State’s Jasmin Sanz grabbed a rebound on a missed Kent State three-point shot. She passed to Carmen Grande, one of the best point guards in the nation, who passed to Fannie Frazier.
Three-point shot. Three-point goal.
Thirty seconds later Grande got a rebound and pushed the ball up court, again to Frazier.
KSU foul as Frazier drove to the basket. Two free throws.
Eighteen seconds later, Kent State turned the ball over. Down court again, then a pass from Destiny Washington to BSU leading scorer Moriah Monaco.
It was 10-2, and Kent State never got any closer.
Ball State pushes the ball constantly on offense. The Cardinals scored 26 fast-break points — roughly defined as when a team gets the ball down court and scores before its opponent can set up a defense — and beat the Flashes 79-58 Saturday at the M.A.C. Center.
It was Kent State’s third straight loss and dropped the Flashes to 2-5 in the Mid-American Conference and 9-10 overall. Ball State, who went 11-0 to start the season, broke a two-game losing streak and is 4-3 and 15-3.
“They’re really fast,” coach Todd Starkey said after the game. “They’re really good in transition, and have a phenomenal point guard. She sees things two or three levels beyond what most guards do. And they can shoot the ball. They started eight for 11 (on three-point shots). If you lock someone in an empty gym, I’m not sure they make eight out of 11. You can’t play a team like that from behind. They just can beat you in so many ways.”
When Ball State has lost, it hasn’t shot well. Saturday the Cardinals made 55 percent of their shots in the first half (61 percent on three-pointers). Great shooting, but many of the shots were open because Ball State beat KSU down the court or created wide-open shots with its half-court offense.
A lot of that was Grande, who is second in the nation in assists per game. She had 10 assists Saturday, along with 15 points and five rebounds. She would drive to he basket in the open court, dump it off to a post player underneath the basket, or pass it out for a three-point shot.
Kent State shot only 33 percent. The Flashes had trouble with a 3-2 Ball State zone defense, had trouble driving to the basket and had trouble getting the ball to leading scorer Jordan Korinek.
KSU had 22 turnovers that Ball State turned into 29 points.
“We’ve just got to limit turnovers,” Starkey said for about the 15th time this season. “We coach it every day in practice: ‘You can’t pass it there. You’ve got to read the defense. You don’t want to force the ball in on the first side.’
“They just get a little frustrated and try to make some plays that aren’t there. So we watch film and try to continue to help them develop.”
It gets no easier for the Flashes, who travel to Toledo on Wednesday. Toledo is 4-3 in the MAC and 13-6 overall. The Rockets lost to Buffalo, the first–place team in the East Division, 87-69, in Buffalo Saturday.
- Korinek led Kent State with 18 points on eight of 16 shooting, though she was limited to 24 minutes because of foul trouble. McKenna Stephens had 11 points and Ali Poole 10. Alexa Golden had six offensive rebounds (eight total).
- Rebounds were even at 37 for the game, but in the first quarter, Ball State had 15 to Kent State’s five. That’s where many of the fast-break points game from.
- Freshman Erin Thames saw her first action of the MAC season, playing 12 minutes. “We had the turnover bug, and I had to go to somebody else,” Starkey said. “I thought she did some nice things and played aggressive.”
- Monique Smith also played the most she has in the MAC, getting two rebounds in six minutes. Freshman walk-on Margaux Eibel got in during the last two minutes and scored her third collegiate point on a free throw.
- Frazier and Grande led Ball State with 15 points each. Washington and Sanz had 12 and Monaco 10. Monaco’s total was seven below her team-leading average.
Other MAC scores
- Central Michigan (7-0, 15-3) 95, Akron (0-7, 6-12) 86 at Akron.
- Ohio (4-3, 10-8) 70, Bowling Green (2-5, 10-8) 63 at Bowling Green.
- Eastern Michigan (5-2, 9-9) 83, Northern Illinois (2-5, 10-8) 76 at Northern.
- Western Michigan (4-3, 11-8) 81, Miami (2-5, 10-8) 70 at Western.
- Buffalo (6-1, 15-3) 87, Toledo (4-3, 13-6) at Buffalo.