Freshman Asiah Dingle had a career-high 17 points, five assists and no turnovers in Monday’s victory. (File photo by Austin Marisay from KSU website.)
Kent State’s 76-64 victory over Saint Bonaventure Monday showed what coach Todd Starkey has been aiming for all season.
The Flashes scored their most points of the year. One of the coach’s goals had been for the team to average in the 70s.
They made a season-high 51.9 percent of their shots. That was almost 8 percentage points higher than any other game. Since he recruited the current five-member freshman class, he’s said the team’s shooting ought to be much improved.
The KSU defense was solid, especially in the first half, when they held the Bonnies to 35 percent shooting and four of 14 on three-points attempts. At its best, Kent State’s defense was constantly in motion and consistently pressuring the ball.
“I would say it was our most balanced game from start to finish,” Starkey said in a phone interview after the game. “I thought we were equal parts solid defensively and solid offensively.
“During practice in finals week, we were really trying to get better execution and better ball movement, passing more often, really looking for assists.”
The Flashes had 15 assists, their most of the season, on 28 baskets. Freshman point guard Asiah Dingle had five assists, and fellow freshman guard Mariah Modkins had four.
“If I pass it, things open up for me,” Dingle told broadcaster David Wilson in a postgame radio interview. “We’re trying to find that little click that will bring us together on the defensive and offensive side. We’re trying to work together. We did well this game.”
Dingle had a career-high 17 points on six-of-11 shooting and committed no turnovers.
“It was probably her best overall game,” Starkey said. “She did a really good job of getting to the basket and in scoring in transition. Five assists, no turnovers, and she had a really solid defensive game.”
Other strong defense came from Modkins and 6-4 senior Merissa Barber-Smith.
Modkins put intense pressure on Saint Bonaventure’s point guards. “That’s part of her job to really get up and and make it difficult for them to get into an offensive flow,” Starkey said. “She’s really pesky on the ball like that.”
Barber-Smith blocked three shots and had six rebounds in just 15 minutes. “She had a couple of really key defensive possessions in the fourth quarter and a big blocked shot there,” Starkey said.
Freshman Lindsey Thall had 14 points, junior Ali Poole 13 . Junior Megan Carter, the team’s leading scorer, had nine points and senior Alexa Golden eight.
The balance pleased Starkey.
“Megan is becoming the victim of more focused scouting reports,” Starkey said. “She started off really well, and teams are trying to take certain things away from her.
“But overall it’s a good sign that we’re getting other people who can score. We’re not going to be successful if Megan averages 18 to 20 and everybody else is at 10 and below. It’s much better for us to have four or five in double figures like that and our leading scorer be closer to 15 or 16.”
- The victory was the Flashes’ second road win of the season and moved their record to 5-4. Saint Bonaventure is 3-8.
- KSU made 10-of-16 first-quarter shots to take a 23-15 lead. Saint Bonaventure rallied in the third quarter but never got closer than four points. Kent never trailed in the game.
- Six players had a total of seven steals for KSU, which scored 18 points off of 15 Saint Bonaventure turnovers. The Flashes had 13 turnovers, which led to 11 Bonnie points.
- Saint Bonaventure outrebounded Kent State 31-30. Carter equalled Barber-Smith’s leading total of six. Thall and Golden had four.
- Nine Kent State players got in the game, and all played more than 13 minutes. That’s the most depth KSU has shown this season. Junior college transfer Sydney Brinlee played a career-high 14 minutes, scoring two points with a rebound and an assist. Freshman Hannah Young played 19 minutes, her most since the second game of the season and more than triple her average time in the last four games. She had six points. Part of Young’s increase minutes was due to Carter picking up her second foul in the first quarter.
- KSU shot only two free throws in the first half and missed both. But the Flashes finished 13 of 16 from the foul line.
The Flashes will bus to New York City and stay in Manhattan while they prepare for their game at NJIT Friday. The coaches plan to show the team the New York sights when they’re not practicing. KSU will be home Dec. 31 against Division II Clarion, a game that’s somewhat of a tune-up for the conference season, which starts the first week of January.