Flashes host Northern Kentucky, Oakland in first Kent State Classic

Thall at NC State

Freshman forward Lindsey Thall in action against North Carolina State. Thall had 17 points in the two games in North Carolina and made three of 10 three-point shots. (Photo from KSU website.)

Kent State went on its opening road trip as major underdogs to two ACC teams. The Flashes played well at times last weekend but lost to North Carolina 73-60 and North Carolina State 78-61.

This weekend they open at home in the first “Kent State Classic” against two average Horizon League teamsNorthern Kentucky (1-0 with a win over a Division II team) and Oakland (1-2).

The Flashes play NKU at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Oakland at about 1:30 Sunday. Times are approximate because both games start a half hour after Akron finishes its games against the same two teams at the M.A.C.C.

Coach Todd Starkey resists calling KSU a favorite.

“This team still hasn’t won a college game,” he said. “This is a talented group, but they’ve got to learn how to win. And the only way they do that is by actually accomplishing it.

“All three of these games (KSU plays Youngstown State, another Horizon team, on Tuesday) are games that we could lose if we don’t play well,

If we play the way we did the middle 25 minutes against Carolina, I think we win all three. If we play like we did the at start the Carolina game and in most of the N.C. game, we could go 1-2 or 0-3.”

The key, he said, is “focus and intensity.”

“I think our talent is enough so if we put those two things with it, we’re going to wins the games we should win this year.”

The Flashes fell behind Carolina 18-5 but rallied to lead 52-50 with five minutes to go. They outscored North Carolina State 19-18 in the third quarter but were otherwise overmatched.

Megan Carter led Kent State with 39 points in North Carolina.

“They were two of the most complete games she’s played,” Starkey said. “She’s had some high scoring games, but defensively she’s gotten a lot better. She’s much more consistent.”

Carter, a 5-6 junior, probably played close to 20 minutes at point guard in KSU’s opening weekend. Part of the reason was foul trouble to starting point guard Asiah Dingle, a freshman. Fellow freshman Mariah Modkins is expected to be the main backup point guard, but Starkey said that against ACC competition, Kent needed Carter’s experience and size. Modkins is listed at 5-1 and at one point against North Carolina State, guarded a player a foot taller.

Carter, a 5-6 redshirt junior guard, likely will be joined in the starting lineup three other guards — Dingle, 6-foot junior Ali Poole and 5-9 senior Alexa Golden — and 6-2 freshman forward Lindsey Thall. First guard off the bench is another freshman, 5-10 Hannah Young. First post player is 6-4 senior Merissa Barber-Smith.

Kent State’s opponents this weekend are also young. Northern Kentucky starts two freshmen and two sophomores, and Oakland starts three freshmen.

About Northern Kentucky

Northern Kentucky returns nine of 10 players from a team that went 9-22 last season, including a 59-54 loss to Kent State in the season opener. The Norse finished 10th in the Horizon League last season and are picked seventh this year.

They are the sixth youngest team in the country, according to Lillie-Anne Mulligan, an assistant sports information director at Florida Atlantic, who compiled the statistic. (FAU was 12th.) In their opener, the Norse started two freshmen (both all-state point guards), two sophomores and junior guard Molly Glick. A 5-10 guard, Glick was NKU’s leading scorer last season at 12.4 points a game and was fifth in the Horizon League in three-point baskets at 2.2 a game in conference play.

One sophomore starter is is 6-3 post player Grayson Rose, who played graduated from Garrettsville High School, about 18 miles from Kent.

The Norse beat Division II Alderson Broaddus 73-32 last Friday. Eleven players played at least 12 minutes and 12 players scored. Alderson Broaddus is a Baptist College in Phillippi, West Virginia, and has about 1,000 students. It was 7-19 last season.

About Oakland

Oakland, which is just outside Detroit, was 15-17 and seventh in the Horizon League last season. It’s picked seventh against this year.

The Golden Grizzlies are 1-2, beating Grace Christian University 94-48 and losing to Central Michigan 104-61 and Indiana 69-32. Grace Christian has 900 students on its Grand Rapids, Michigan, campus and is a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association.

Taylor Jones, a 5-8 senior guard, leads Oakland in scoring (19.7 points per game), rebounding (5.3), assists (4.0) and steals (2.3).

In their most recent game, the Grizzlies started three freshmen, a junior and a senior.

About the Kent State Classic

Kent State and Akron have agreed to alternately hold “classic” events in a move to save travel costs for both them and visiting teams. Last year the “Akron Classic” including KSU, Florida Gulf Coast and Southwestern Louisiana.

To follow the games

Saturday vs. Northern Kentucky

General admission tickets are $10 at the M.A.C.C. One ticket gets you in both the Akron and Kent games. Akron tips off at 3 p.m., the KSU game a half hour after the first game finishes.

Audio broadcast starts 15 minutes before the game — likely sometime between 5:30 and 5:45 on Golden Flash iHeart Radio.

Video is through ESPN3 and is free for cable and satellite subscribers to ESPN. Link is http://www.espn.com/watch/_/id/3452943/northern-kentucky-vs-kent.

Live statistics are available through the KSU website.

Saturday vs. Oakland

The game is scheduled to start about 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the M.A.C.C. Akron plays Northern Kentucky at 11 a.m. The KSU game will start a half hour after that game finishes.

General admission tickets are $10 at the M.A.C.C. One ticket gets you in both the Akron and Kent games. (You need a different ticket than Saturday.)

Audio broadcast starts 15 minutes before the game — likely sometime between 1:15 AND and 1:30 on Golden Flash iHeart Radio.

Video is through ESPN-plus, which costs $4.99 a month. It gives you access to Kent State events not on regular ESPN or other networks, including men’s and women’s basketball, football and some wrestling and gymnastics. That would include more than 85 percent of KSU men’s and women’s basketball. The service includes access to other MAC games and those of many other schools, plus some unique programming. You can watch it through your cable or satellite company or the ESPN app. Here’s a Kent State Q&A on ESPN+. Here’s link to the KSU-Oakland game. When you try to watch it, it will guide you through the purchase.

Live statistics are available through the KSU website.

The men play on Sunday, too

In a triple header of sorts, Kent State’s men play Alcorn State a half hour after the women’s game ends Sunday. That should be between 4 and 4:30 p.m.

It’s not posted yet on the KSU website, but I’d assume one ticket will get you in all three games — Akron vs. Northern Kentucky, the KSU women vs. Oakland and the men vs. Alcorn State.

Three Flashes for fall 2019

As expected, three high school seniors signed national letters of intent to play at Kent State next school year.

They are Katie Shumate, a 5-11 guard from Newark (Ohio), Clare Kelly, a 5-8 guard from Olmsted Falls and Nila Blackford, a 6-1 forward from Louisville. Here’s a link to my story about them from Tuesday.

Starkey is very high on them and says that person for person, they may be better than the current five freshmen. I had a good interview with him and two assistants about the recruits and will post it once we get beyond these three games in the next four days.


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