Megan Carter had 18 points for Kent State. She leads the Flashes so far this season in scoring, assists and minutes played and is tied for the most rebounds. (Photo from KSU website.)
The Flashes came out of their home-court weekend with two victories, but the team still has much to work on.
Kent State beat Oakland 75-65 Sunday after a 62-61 victory over Northern Kentucky Saturday. Both teams are predicted to finish in the lower half of the Horizon League. Neither has beaten a Division I team yet. Northern Kentucky is 1-2 and Oakland 1-4.
The Flashes are 2-2. They lost games at North Carolina and North Carolina State on their opening weekend.
Kent State coach Todd Starkey and juniors Megan Carter and Ali Poole all said the team needed to show more toughness.
“I thought we did a few things better,” Starkey said, “but one of the things that we’re going to have to get solved is winning loose balls and rebounds. And we fell asleep defensively a couple of times especially in the second half.”
“We need to have a lot more toughness,” Carter said. “The teams we play are going to get better. So we’ve got to step up.”
How Poole defined toughness: “The nitty gritty. Not getting beat on defense, not letting them get the offensive rebounds, crashing for the offensive rebounds, stepping up and taking the charge.”
“We have the talent to win games,”Poole said. “We have the athleticism to win games. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot. We hurt ourselves more this weekend than the other team doing anything spectacular against us. So as soon as we get us figured out, I think we’ll be all right.”
One more thing that shows how far KSU needs to go:
Akron, predicted to finish behind Kent in the Mid-American Conference, beat both Oakland (85-65) and Northern Kentucky (77-60) far more easily.
For Kent State, the biggest differences between Saturday and Sunday’s wins were (1) Oakland isn’t as experienced as Northern Kentucky or as good, especially on defense, and (2) Poole, who had only four points Saturday, had 15, including three three-pointers.
“She knew she didn’t play well yesterday,” Starkey said. “Her coming back and playing with that type of intensity is important to us. We need to have that type of consistent effort from her.”
Poole said her game strategy was “crashing the boards.”
“That’s sort of my mantra,” she said. “If I get rebounds, everything else seems to kind of follow, and it helps keep my defense focused.”
Poole had seven rebounds to lead Kent State.
Carter had 18 points, leading the Flashes in scoring for the third time in four games. She also had six assists, five rebounds and a steal against one turnovers. She is averaging 17.8 points a game. Last year she averaged 10.2.
Freshman point guard Asiah Dingle, the team’s second-leading scorer at 12.8 points a game, had 15 points before going down with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Trainers worked on her for the rest of the game, and she met her team on crutches at center court afterwards.
Starkey said they’re still evaluating the injury, but he didn’t seem to indicate it would be a long-term problem.
- Freshman Lindsey Thall scored 11 points and blocked four shots, both career highs. She made three of 11 three-point shots and leads the team in three-point baskets (8) and attempts (25). Her six blocks also lead the Flashes. Thall’s entire old Strongsville High School team was at the game. Her mother, Dawn, is the school’s ninth grade coach and was one of the top scorers in Strongsville history as a player there.
- Back-up point guard Moriah Modkins, also a freshman, played 15 minutes, her most of the season and scored six points on two-of-three three-pointers.
- Community College transfer Sydney Brinlee, a 6-foot forward, played 13 minutes, by far her most of the season, and scored six points. “She’s a live body in there and can run the floor. She can rebound, she’s got a great voice on defense. So as she grows in confidence, I would assume that her minutes are going to increase.”
- Merissa Barber-Smith started her second game of the season with Dingle, Thall, Carter and Alexa Golden. The 6-4 senior center had six rebounds in 12 minutes.
- Starkey’s goal for the season is for the Flashes to average 75 points. This was their first game they scored in the 70s. The Flashes made 26 of 62 shots for 41.9 percent and nine of 26 three-pointers. Oakland made 36.7 percent of its field goal attempts and 47.6 percent of its three-point shots (10 of 21). The Grizzlies outrebounded Kent State 39-38 and outscored the Flashes 22-8 on second-chance points.
- KSU had six steals — its lowest total of the season — but scored 21 points on 21 Oakland turnovers. The Flashes committed 14 turnovers, equaling their lowest total of the year.
- The games were part of the “Kent State Classic,” in which the Flashes and Zips played the same teams on alternate days. Next year they’ll do the same thing at the JAR in the “Akron Classic.”
- Attendance was 821, down from 1,273 on Saturday but still more than any non-conference game in the last two years.
Kent State returns to action Tuesday with its third-straight home game against an Horizon League team. This time it’s Youngstown State, which is 4-0 and picked to finish well ahead of Oakland and Northern Kentucky in their league. The game is a first of a doubleheader with the KSU men at the M.A.C.C. Tipoff is at 5 p.m.
Other MAC results
- Mississippi (3-1) 69, Western Michigan (1-3) 66 at Mississippi.
- Toledo (2-1) 65, Duquesne (1-3) 52 at Toledo.
- Ohio (3-0) 100, Eastern Kentucky (0-3) 60 at Ohio.
- Northern Illinois (2-1) 80, Northern Iowa (1-3) 59 at Northern Illinois.
- No. 3 Oregon (4-0) 1-2, Buffalo (2-1) 82 at Oregon.
- Central Michigan (2-1) 108, Western Kentucky (0-4) 90 at Central.
- Eastern Michigan (2-0) 50, Illinois State (1-2) 41 at Eastern.
- Bowling Green (2-1) 61, Robert Morris (1-3) 60 at Bowling Green.
- Missouri State (1-2) 74, Ball State (1-2) 54 at Missouri State.
- Miami (3-0) 78, Detroit Mercy (1-3) 59 at Detroit.