Freshman forward Lindsay Thall scored 16 points, one off her career high, against Miami. Thirteen of her points came inside the paint. She had been scoring mostly from three-point shooting. (File photo from KSU website.)
Kent State finished what’s likely to be its toughest five-game stretch of the season on Saturday.
It did not go well.
The Flashes lost their fourth straight game, 79-63 at Miami, and fell to 3-4 in the conference, 10-8 overall. Miami is 13-4 and 4-2 in the MAC.
The Flashes started the league season with three straight wins, capped by their best game of the year, a 58-47 win at Toledo. But then they lost competitive games to Ohio and Central Michigan, two of the best teams in the league.
On its road trip this week, KSU played its worst offensive game of the season Wednesday at Ball State, losing 48-44, and Saturday played its worst defensive game of the season, losing 79-63.
In their last five games, the Flashes played four on the road and played four of the league’s best five teams
Kent State now gets a week off before it hosts Akron next Saturday. Akron beat Toledo 70-64 in overtime Saturday for its first victory this season over a team with a winning record. The Zips are tied with Kent, Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois and for sixth in the conference at 3-4, and are 12-6 overall.
“We looked tired — more mentally than physically,” coach Todd Starkey said in a phone interview. “We knew these five games were going to be tough, and we didn’t handle them as well as I hoped we would.
“Miami was coming off of its bye week, and they looked like it. They were fresh. and they had put in a couple of actions that we hadn’t seen before.”
“It’s a good time to have the week off,” the coach said.
Miami leads the MAC in defense, but the Redhawks played some of their best offense of the season. The 79 points were the most they’ve scored (they hit 78 twice in non-conference play). They made 54 percent of their shots — 13 points above their season average.
Starkey said Miami’s high scoring was “about half us and half them.”
Associate head coach Fran Recchia was stronger in her postgame interview with David Wilson on Golden Flash iHeart Radio.
“I was really disappointed on our defensive effort,” she said. “Giving up 79 points just is not acceptable in a game like this.
“They did a great job of picking us apart. They had 18 assists. We’d take one action away, and the found another and capitalized on it. They did a great job of adjusting to every style of defense we played tonight.”
Kent State had led the MAC in field-goal defense at 36 percent. Miami shot 18 percentage points above that — the best any KSU opponent had done since North Caroling State in the second game of the season. N.C. State is now 18-0 and ranked eighth in the country.
Miami jumped to an 11-0 lead, then Kent scored six straight points to close the margin to five. The Flashes never came closer. Miami led 22-10 after the first quarter. The teams played evenly for the nest two quarters, but KSU never got within seven in the second half and within 14 in the fourth quarter.
Freshman forward Lindsay Thall played one of her best offensive games of her career for KSU. She had 16 points on six-of-eight shooting. Thall leads the Flashes in three-point baskets, but 13 of her 16 points came on inside scoring.
“That’s something we’ve been talking with her,” Recchia said. “She’s really aggressive in practice, and we’ve told them we’d rather you get an offensive foul because you’re being aggressive. IF she doesn’t she up in the first half (when Thall scored 12 points), we’re not even in the game.”
So what does Kent State work on in its bye week?
“Everything,” Starkey said. “Our transition offense. Defensively we’ve gotten away a little bit from some of the toughness we had. I think some of our young kids really are kind of them a little bit of a mental wall, and the bye week will be good for us. So we’ll try to do a great job breathing new life into them and coaching them better.
“I’m still real optimistic about where we’re heading and what we can still do this season.”
- Loss was KSU’s second worst of season. Flashes lost by 17 to North Carolina State (now 18-0 and ranked eighth in country) in second game of season. Since then, they hadn’t lost a game by more than seven points.
- Megan Carter led Kent State with 21 points eight-of-16 shooting. It was the fourth time in five games she’s had more than 20 points. Carter also had five rebounds, two assists and a steal.
- The Flashes, who were second in the MAC in turnover margin going into the game, had 17 Saturday while Miami had just 13. That was the fewest turnovers by an opponent since Youngstown State had 11 in November. Miami scored 22 points of of KSU turnovers; Kent scored 14 off Miami turnovers. The Flashes had eight steals, led by Asiah Dingle’s three and Alexa Golden’s two. Miami had nine steals.
- Miami, which leads the nation in three-point defense, held Kent State to three-of-17. The Flashes’ three-point defense was substantially better than its average. Miami made five-of-20 three-pointers.
- After going three of 11 shooting in the first quarter, Kent State made 45 percent of its shots for the rest of the game.
- The Redhawks outrebounded KSU 35-28 and pounded the Flashes 20-10 in the second half.
- Lauren Dickerson and Savannah Kluesner led Miami with 19 points each. Kristen Levering had 15 and five rebounds in 14 minutes. Leah Purvis had 11.
- Everyone on both teams’ active roster got in the game.
KSU’s Saturday game against Akron starts at 2 p.m.
Other MAC scores
- Ohio (16-1, 6-1) 82, Bowling Green (7-10, 0-7) 79 at BG.
- Akron (12-6, 3-4) 70, Toledo (12-6, 4-3) 64 in overtime at Akron.
- Central Michigan (14-5, 5-2) 71, Eastern Michigan (10-8, 3-4) 61 at Central.
- Buffalo (14-4, 6-1) 93, Northern Illinois (11-8, 3-4) 64 at Buffalo.
- Western Michigan (8-9, 2-4) 65, Ball State (7-12, 2-5) 62 at Ball State.