Coach Todd Starkey in the huddle earlier this season. (File photo from KSU Twitter feed by Austin Mariasy.)
Kent State took 67 shots — its third highest total of the season — against Ball State Wednesday but could only make on 16 and fell on the road 48-44.
The Flashes’ 44 points and 24 percent shooting were both their lowest of the season.
It was KSU’s third loss in a row and dropped its record to 3-3 in the MAC, where it is tied for sixth. Kent is 10-7 overall. Ball State is 2-4 and 7-11.
“We couldn’t throw it in the ocean from the end of the pier,” coach Todd Starkey said in a phone interview after the game. “We got looks. We just didn’t make shots. We caused 23 turnovers and couldn’t turn them into points. That’s the game.”
For most of the game, Ball State prevented KSU guards Asiah Dingle and Megan Carter from driving to the basket, a key part of the Flashes’ offense.
“They crowded every single drive,” Starkey said. “We were trying to run actions to get people open, but our plays were breaking down. They were defending our first and second actions really well. There was no place to drive it, and we had players standing around watching them (KSU’s guards) trying to make a play.
“Ball State did a great job of making us take tough shots, and we missed. We’d miss the tough shots and the easy ones.”
When Kent tried to shoot from outside, it made only four of 28 three-point shots. The 14.3 percentage was KSU’s second lowest of the season. KSU made 8 percent of 24 shots against Wright State.
Ball State led 9-8 after the first quarter, and Kent State led by one point at halftime, and Ball State led by one after three quarters. The Flashes rallied to take a 35-34 lead with 4:33 to go.
Then Oshlynn Brow, BSU’s 6-1 leading scorer and rebounder, made two three-point plays in a minute and five seconds to give the Cardinals a 42-41 lead. The second one fouled out KSU forward Lindsey Thall. Ball State made six foul shots over the last two minutes to guarantee the victory.
“That’s the second game in a row teams have pounded the ball inside on us late,” Starkey said. “We’ve had some good post defense until this point, but all of a sudden, people are exposing us a little bit. So obviously we’ve got to make some adjustments.”
The team needs to change some other things, Starkey said, “to find a way to get us out of the little funk that we’re in.”
“Right now we’re a pretty easy team to scout,” he said. “We’re not making the extra pass and moving the ball the way we need to. We’ve turned into a team that when a play breaks down, Megan and Asiah try to drive it on people, and we’re standing around and doing a lot of watching.
“We’ve struggled to find someone who can finish around the basket. We’ve got to get that solved because we’re getting some looks down there.”
In the second half, Ball State’s defense played as much as six feet off of Dingle, almost daring her to shoot from three-point distance.
“I would, too,” Starkey said. “That’s the scout on us right now. We’ve told her to try to get the ball in and our of her hands quickly. The places she’s going to be open are going to be when she gets the ball back or in transition.”
Dingle is clearly one of the top three freshmen in the MAC, but she’s shooting only 16 percent on three–point attempts.
- Going into the game, Kent State had been playing well offensively in the conference season. The Flashes were third in scoring, and second in three-point percentage (though 11th in field goal percentage) in its first five MAC games. KSU was third in free throw percentage (76.4) but made only eight of 14 Wednesday.
- Carter led Kent State with 12 points, three below her average, and Dingle had 11, about three below hers.
- Thall took only four shots and scored one point, her lowest total of the season and nine below her average. She did lead KSU in rebounding with eight. No other KSU player scored more than five points.
- Alexa Golden equaled a career high with six steals, and Dingle matched her best with five. The Flashes stole the ball 12 times and scored 19 points on 23 Ball State turnovers. The Cardinals scored 13 points off 17 KSU turnovers.
- Freshman Hannah Young played 19 minutes, mostly in the first half because of foul trouble by Dingle and Ali Poole. It was the most she’s played since the second game of the season. Young had five points, six rebounds and blocked shot.
- Junior college transfer Sydney Brinlee played 11 minutes, by far her most in a close game, She hit a basket in the last minute of the first half that gave KSU its 20-19 lead and had two rebounds.
- The Flashes outrebounded Ball State 46-44. Besides Thall’s eight and Young’s six, Merissa Barber-Smith had seven, Carter six and Golden five. The Flashes had 19 offensive rebounds but only nine second-chance points.
- Kent State hasn’t beat Ball State at Ball State since 1997, when current BSU coach Brady Sallee was a first-year assistant at Kent State.
The Flashes finish a string of four road games in 17 days at Miami Saturday. Miami is 3-2 in the MAC and 12-4 overall. The Redhawks, one of the top defensive teams in the conference, were idle Wednesday and beat Ball State 60-57 at home Saturday.
Other MAC scores
- Preseason MAC favorite Central Michigan (13-5 lost at Toledo 62-59 and fell into a third-place tie with the Rockets (12-5) at 4-2.
- Ohio (16-1) beat Northern Illinois 69-53 in DeKalb and shares first place with Buffalo (13-4), which routed Akron at home 91-72. Buffalo and Ohio have 5-1 league records. Akron is 11-6 and 2-4 in the MAC.
- Eastern Michigan beat Bowling Green 81-74 at Eastern. The Eagles are tied with Kent State for sixth in the conference at 3-3 and is 10-7 overall. BG is 0-6 in the MAC and 7-10 overall.
- Miami (3-2 and 12-4) and Western Michigan (1-4 and 7-9) were off.