Alexa Golden (24) and Sydney Brinlee on the break for Kent State against Clarion. Flashes had a season-best 32 fast-break points. (Photo by Austin Mariasy from KSU website.)
Monday’s game against Clarion had been likely to be a rout since it went on Kent State’s schedule, and it was. Perhaps times two.
The Flashes beat their Division II opponent 92-38 in their largest margin of victory since 1996. It was KSU’s highest point total of the season by far, the second time the Flashes’ had held an opponent below 40 points and the fourth time they’ve held a team below 50.
The victory ends the Flashes’ non-conference schedule with a 7-4 record, tied with four teams for the seventh best in the MAC. KSU was 7-5 in non-league games last season and 5-7 in coach Starkey’s first year in 2016-17, when the team went on to win the MAC East.
The game counted as an exhibition for Clarion, which remains officials at 7-5 against Division II competition.
Starkey said the team’s goals were the same as any other game — play intensely, get off to a good start and score in transition. Asked how the Flashes graded, the coach simply answered:
“What was the score at the end of the first quarter?”
It was 26-4.
With 30 seconds to go in the quarter, it was 24-1. With three minutes to go, it was 19-0.
“I thought it was a good performance and a good start for us,” Starkey said. Heading into the conference opener against Eastern Michigan Saturday, the team is “about where we deserve to be,” he said. He said KSU had chances to win games against North Carolina, Duquesne and Wright State but was fortunate to win some close games, such as a 62-61 win over Northern Kentucky.
Everyone in uniform played at least eight minutes for Kent State. For freshman Annie Pavlansky and sophomore Margaux Eibel, that was more time than the rest of the season combined. Pavlansky’s two baskets were the first points of her college career.
“We came into this game talking about, ‘Don’t be selfish,’ and get to the bench and let them play,” redshirt junior guard Megan Carter said. “We just wanted to play for them so they can get minutes.”
Carter led four Kent State players in double figures with 15 points. Senior Alexa Golden and freshman Hannah Young had 13 and senior Merissa Barber-Smith 11. The totals were career highs for Barber-Smith and Young.
Three other players had at least eight points for the Flashes.
Kent State spent most of the game on offense working on things that hadn’t gone well through its first 10 games. KSU went into the game averaging 63 points a game; Starkey’s goal for the season is to average 70.
With Starkey calling plays from the sidelines, the Flashes must have gone through at least 80 percent of their playbook. They scored about every way they could, setting season highs in points (92), field goals made (33), field-goal percentage (52.4), three-point baskets (11), three-point percentage (46), fast-break points (32), assists (18) and steals (17).
“You go back to basics and execute your offense,” Golden said. “Our offense works if we run it the right way.”
- The 54-point margin of victory was third highest in school history. Biggest was 91-25 over Muskingum in 1979. Second was 88-29 over Coppin State in 1996.
- Seven other MAC teams played Division II opponents since Saturday. Kent’s margin of victory was the biggest (second was Miami over Ohio Dominican 74-29) and second highest point total (highest was in Ball State’s 99-62 win over Urbana). The MAC won all of the games by comfortable margins.
- The last time Kent State scored 90 points was in a 98-97 loss to Northern Illinois in 2017.
- Kent State held Clarion to 25.5 percent shooting, the fourth time this season KSU has held an opponent under 30 percent. Clarion took only seven three-point shots, making four. That’s the fewest attempts for a Kent opponent this season. Clarion had averaged 14.1 attempts per game.
- The Flashes outrebounded Clarion 47-30, led by seven from Barber-Smith and Young. Barber-Smith, who leads the MAC I’m blocks per game, had two Monday.
- Kent State scored a season-high 29 points off 25 Clarion turnovers. Young and Golden both had three steals. Clarion got 12 points from 14 KSU turnovers.
- Central Michigan (9-3) beat No. 24 Miami (Florida) 90-80 Sunday in Miami’s own holiday tournament. On Friday, Central had lost to 10-3 Tulane 68-57, scoring its fewest points and shooting its lowest percentage of the season.
- Ohio capped an 11-0 non-conference schedule — the best start in school history — with a 77-67 win at American (4-7).
- Northern Illinois (8-4) beat Brown (6-7) 109-102 Monday in double overtime.
- Other top records in the league are Akron and Miami at 9-2, Buffalo and Toledo at 8-3.
I’ll be doing a number of posts on the MAC this week as the Flashes prepare for their conference opener. That game is at 5 p.m. Friday, the first of a doubleheader with the men, who play Bowling Green.
An earlier headline on this story said it was the most points in 33 years. I couldn’t subtract. It was 23 years ago — 1996 — when the Flashes last won by a bigger margin.