After two games in single digits, Megan Carter scored 19 points against NJIT to lead the Flashes. (File photo from KSU website.)
Kent State’s offense wasn’t much to celebrate, but defense and rebounding sent the players and coaches home for Christmas with 57-40 victory over NJIT and a three-game road winning streak.
The Flashes are 6-4 with only a tune-up home game against Division II .Clarion before the Mid-American Conference season starts in January. NJIT is 3-9.
Kent State had 23 offensive rebounds and forced 33 turnovers, both season highs, and outscored NJIT 37-21 in the second half.
“We ended with a win, and that’s what it’s all about,” associate head coach Fran Recchia told KSU broadcaster David Wilson on her postgame interview. “Their zone kind of stalled us out in the first half, but I’m really proud of the girls’ bouncing back after halftime.”
The Flashes trailed 11-8 after the first quarter and led just 20-19 at halftime. But they went on a 7-2 scoring run to start the third quarter and another 12-5 run to end it. They outscored NJIT 10-2 over the last four minutes of the game to pull away.
Leading scorer Megan Carter, bouncing back after scoring fewer than 10 points in two games, had 19 to lead KSU. Asiah Dingle had 15 despite playing only seven minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
Senior guard Alexa Golden didn’t score a point but led a defense that held NJIT to 29 percent shooting and one for 10 on three-point shots.
“She’s our glue,” Recchia said. “”We kind of go as she goes. whether she’s shooting the ball well or not. She does so much for us with behind-the-scenes leadership. We’re playing two or three freshman at a time and she’s keeping us all together. And what she does defensively does not show up in a stat sheet. But we aren’t where we are without her.”
Merissa Barber-Smith had nine rebounds (seven offensive) in 16 minutes. Ali Poole had a season-high eight rebounds to go with eight points. Barber-Smith and Poole led a 47-40 rebound advantage for KSU, 23-9 on offensive rebounds. That led to 14-3 Kent State margin in second-chance points.
Because of the offensive rebounds and NJIT’s turnovers, Kent State took 36 more shots than the Highlanders. The Flashes needed them. They only made 21 of 72 field goal attempts for 29 percent.
New post with more quotes, statistics and other MAC scores coming Saturday. .