Megan Carter had 17 points to lead the Flashes. It was the 13th time this season she has led the team in scoring. (Photo from KSU Twitter feed.)
As Kent State built a 20-7 first quarter lead over Western Michigan Wednesday , the Flashes looked as if they could beat any team in the Mid-American Conference. They made six-of-13 shots, held Western to three-of-10, outrebounded the Broncos 12-3 and stole the ball five times.
KSU’S 38-22 lead at the half was its third biggest of the season.
And then came the second half. The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad second half.
Kent State made only six of 29 shots, couldn’t defend Western’s three-point shooting and turned the ball over nine times. The Flashes managed 17 points, their lowest total in a half this season.
Still they hung on for a 55-51 victory and pushed their MAC record to 5-4 at the end of the first half of the conference season. They are tied with Toledo and Northern Illinois for fifth place in the MAC and are 12-8 overall. Western Michigan is 2-6 and 8-11.
“We weren’t making shots,” coach Todd Starkey said. “If you’re not making shots, it affects everything, especially with a young team. We lost our composure a little bit. We lost our focus, It led to us playing tentatively, and we stopped talking on the defensive end.”
Guard Megan Carter said, “They turned up the pressure, which we expected. We just didn’t handle it as well.”
The Flashes struggled to run their offense. When they did get open shots — shots they’ve made often — the ball would roll around and bounce off the rim.
Western’s Kamin Reed, who averages eight points a game, hit two three-point shots in 30 seconds, then Deja Wimby made two free throws to cut the Kent lead to 52-51 with 12 seconds to go. Carter made a foul shot, then Reed missed everything on a three-pointer. “We dodged a bullet,” Starkey said. “They got a really good look.”
Lindsey Thall hit two free throws with six second left to clinch the victory.
So what does Kent State learn from a game like that:
Starkey: “You can’t take any lead for granted. Stay aggressive on the offensive end regardless of whether the team is playing zone or man. Players have to make plays when it’s time to make them.”
Carter: “We can’t take our foot off the pedal. We knew they came back from 14 down against Ball State. We didn’t want to let the same thing happen here.”
Senior guard Alexa Golden: “When things aren’t going our way, stay together and keep playing because not everything’s going to go your way all the time.”
- Carter led Kent State in scoring with 17 points. Asiah Dingle had 12, all in the first half. Dingle went to the floor hard several times and only played eight minutes in the second half.
- Kent State committed 19 turnovers, its third highest of the season. (They’ve won all three of those games.) Western Michigan, had 14, one over an average average that is fourth best in Division I. KSU, however, outscored the Broncos 18-14 off turnovers. The Flashes had 11 steals, led by four from Golden and three from Mariah Modkins.
- For the game, the Flashes made 18-of-54 shots (33 percent) and four-of-17 three-pointers (23.5 percent). Western was 18 of 53 (34 percent) and eight of 21 from distance (38.1 percent).
- KSU outrebounded Western 46-28, by far its largest margin of the year. Golden had nine rebounds, and Thall, Carter, Ali Poole and Merissa Barber-Smith all had six. KSU had 14 offensive rebounds but only six second-chance points.
- The Flashes didn’t score for the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. They scored seven in the quarter. Lowest this season is six.
- Kent State was plus-eight in scoring with Thall on the court, even though she was only one-of nine shooting. The team was plus-six with Barber-Smith and plus-five with Dingle and Hannah Young, who played only five minutes.
- Reed led Western with a career-high 20 points on seven-of-12 shooting. She also had four steals and five rebounds and played all 40 minutes. Wimby, the Broncos’ leading scorer, went three for 15 and scored nine points.
Kent State plays at Buffalo Saturday. The Bulls are 7-2 and tied for second in the conference. Guard Cierra Dillard is third in the country in scoring at 25.1 points a game.
Other MAC scores
Ohio leads the league at 8-2, followed by Buffalo, Miami and Central Michigan at 7-2.
- Buffalo (7-2 MAC, 15-5 overall) 73, Toledo (5-4, 13-7) 63 at Buffalo.
- Ohio (8-2, 19-2) 92, Akron (3-6, 12-8) 70 at Ohio.
- Miami (7-2, 16-4) 63, Eastern Michigan (3-6, 10-10) 58 at Miami.
- Central Michigan (7-2, 16-5) 81, Ball State (2-7, 7-14) 63 at Central.
- Northern Illinois (5-4, 13-8) 88, Bowling Green (0-9, 7-13) 47 at Northern.