Coach Todd Starkey instructing his team. (File photo by Austin Mariasy from KSU website.)
As in its opener with North Carolina, Kent State fell well behind at North Carolina State in the first half Sunday.
Unlike the opener, the Flashes got no chance to come back against the Wolfpack, which beat the Flashes 78-61. North Carolina State, ranked 17th in the preseason Associated Poll, is 2-0.
While KSU’s opening 73-60 loss at Carolina was closer than the score (Kent led 52-50 with five minutes left), Sunday’s loss wasn’t as close. The 17-point margin came when Kent hit three three-point baskets in the last 70 seconds.
The Flashes trailed 20-7 after the first quarter and 39-20 at the half. North Carolina State shut down KSU’s offense in the first half, forcing the Flashes to take 16 of their 25 shots from three-point distance. They made only three.
Kent State actually outscored the Wolfpack 19-18 in the third quarter and 22-21 in the fourth, but the Wolfpack was in control the whole game.
“At the end of the day, they’re just better than we are at every position,” coach Todd Starkey said. “Against N.C. State’s size and athleticism, it was really difficult for us to run our offense.
“And then of course when they knock down 13 threes, it’s going to be tough for us to keep pace with them.”
For the game, North Carolina State shot 58 percent from three-point distance and 57 percent overall.
“We gave them too many open looks from three, but we double teamed when they were trying to pound it inside. When we did, they found opener shooters. When we didn’t double team, they scored in there. So it was kind of pick your poison.
“And we were kind of hoping they would miss a few more threes than that.”
Kent State made 30 percent of its shots (20 percent in the first half). The Wolfpack defense forced KSU to take 29 of its 55 shots from three-point distance. The Flashes made only nine.
Redshirt junior guard Megan Carter led Kent State with 22 points, giving her 39 for the weekend. She made five of 15 shots and 10 of 14 free throws. She also seven rebounds, two steals and two assists.
Freshman guard Asiah Dingle had 13 despite foul trouble for the second game in a row. Freshman forward Lindsey Thall had 10, and freshman guard Hannah Young had seven.
Merissa Barber-Smith led KSU with nine rebounds.
North Carolina State outrebounded KSU 36-32, ourscored the Flashes in the paint 20-10 and blocked four KSU shots.
Kent State scored 18 points off 18 Wolfpack turnovers. North Carolina State scored 13 off 14 KSU turnovers.
The Flashes open at home Saturday in the first Kent State Classic. They’ll play Northern Kentucky at 5 p.m. Saturday and Oakland at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Akron will play Oakland after the KSU game on Friday and Northern Kentucky later Sunday.
The event is part of a partnership with Akron in which the Zips and Flashes hold a “classic” with two other teams in alternate years. It allows opponent teams to avoid a second road trip. Last year Kent played Florida Gulf Coast and Southeastern Louisiana at Akron.