Megan Carter drives through traffic in the fourth quarter. Carter had 17 points to lead the Flashes for the fifth time in six games. (Photo by David Dermer for the KSU athletic department.)
Get ready, Kent State coaches told their team. This is what the Mid-American Conference season is going to be like.
The Flashes battled Duquesne, preseason favorite in the Atlantic 10 Conference, to the final minute Wednesday before falling 77-72 at the M.A.C. Center.
“Duquesne is right up there with some of the best teams in our league,” coach Todd Starkey said. “It’s great to be able to play with them, but ultimately we want to win. So we have to learn from this. I think we will. I think our young players will understand just how tough games are in our conference.”
The loss ends a three-game winning streak for Kent, which is now 3-3. Duquesne also is 3-3, with early season losses to No. 11 Texas and 4-1 TCU.
For the last half dozen years, Duquesne has been one to the best mid-major programs in the country. The Dukes were 25-8 last season and return all five starters (though one wasn’t dressed Wednesday).
All-Atlantic 10 guard Chassidy Omogrosso led a second-half charge by the Dukes that gave them the win. Omogrosso scored 20 of her 24 points in the second half in by far her best game of the season. She had averaged six points a game and scored no more than 15 points in a game.
Duquesne used screens to get Omogrosso free for drives to the basket, where she made layups or got to the foul line.
“We didn’t defend the ball screens the right way, and she got loose,” Starkey said. “We were focused so much on the interior and their shooters that she was able to score.”
The Flashes trailed 16-7 after Duquesne hit its first four three-point shots. Then after a time out, KSU turned up its defense. The Dukes made just three-of-15 shots for the rest of the half and turned the ball over 12 times, and Kent State built a 34-29 halftime lede.
Duquesne, however, scored 24 points in the third and fourth quarters.
“They’re good,” Starkey said, “and they made adjustments. A veteran ball club like that is able to do that.”
The Dukes outscored KSU 18-9 in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter. The Flashes closed it to 74-72 with 25 seconds to play, but Duquesne foul shots clinched the game.
Kent State made only four of 14 shots in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we got tired,” Starkey said. “We really expended a lot of energy to get to that point. We missed some threes short and didn’t finish at the basket.”
- Megan Carter led four Kent State players in double figures with 17 points but was six of 19 shooting. “They played her really physical,” Starkey said. “Megan had a lot of opportunities at the basket. They could have called some fouls there. They didn’t, She’s got to play through contact and finish those shots.” Carter also had five rebounds and four assists.
- Freshman forward Lindsey Thall had a career-high 15 on five-of-eight shooting (three-of-three three-pointers). She led KSU with six rebounds and blocked a shot.
- Freshman guard Asiah Dingle, back in the lineup after missing a game with an ankle injury, had 13 points and six assists. Junior guard Ali Poole had 10 points, including two three-pointers, and four rebounds.
- Alexa Golden and Mariah Modkins also had two three-point baskets. Overall KSU made 10 three-pointers
- Kent State scored 23 points off of 20 Duquesne turnovers. Duquesne scored 100 off of KSU’s 13 turnovers. That’s the widest margin in the Flashes’ favor in quite a while.
- KSU made 38.5 percent of its shots and the same percentage of its three-pointers. Duquesne’s shooting percentage was 48; it made 26.9 percent of its three-point shots. The Dukes outrebounded Kent 39-33.
- Buffalo is 5-1 and was ranked second in this week’s College Insider’s Mid-Major Top 25. Senior guard Cierra Dillard scored a total of 53 points in wins over South Dakota State, another top mid-major, and Georgetown at the Southpoint Shootout in Las Vegas. Dillard leads the country in scoring at 26.6 points per game. The Bulls are sixth in the ESPN mid-major poll.
- Central Michigan is also 5-1 and ranked fifth in the mid-major poll. The Chippewas beat the ACC’s Virginia (2-5) and Chattanooga (4-4) at Virginia’s Thanksgiving tournament. CMU is fourth in the ESPN poll.
- Miami (4-1), Ohio (5-0), Northern Illinois (3-2) and Eastern Michigan (3-1) also got votes in the mid-major poll. Ohio coach Bob Boldon is on the panel that votes on the poll.
Results from Wednesday:
- Youngstown State (5-2) 72, Akron (3-1) 61 at YSU.
- Northern Illinois (3-2) 81, North Dakota State (2-5) 63 at NIU.
- Ball State (2-5) 75, Cincinnati (5-3) 63 at Ball State.
- Western Michigan (2-3) 64, Eastern Kentucky (0-6) 53 at Western.
Other Bowling Green (3-3) and Toledo (3-2) were idle Wednesday.