Alexa Golden led Kent State at Eastern Michigan with 17 points. She also had 10 rebounds and four steals. Golden leads the MAC in steals in conference games only and is fourth in all games. (File photo from KSU website.)
It wasn’t quite the complete game coach Todd Starkey had been wanting, but the Flashes put up their second-largest scoring margin of the MAC season, winning at Eastern Michigan 67-54.
For senior guard Alexa Golden, however, it was a most complete game.
Golden scored 17 points, all in the first half, had 10 rebounds, four steals, two assists and two blocked shots.
The victory takes Kent State to 6-5 and a tie with Northern Illinois for sixth place in the Mid-American Conference. Overall the Flashes are 13-9 — as many wins as the team had all last season with at least eight games to go. Eastern Michigan is 3-8 in the MAC and 10-12 overall.
“We did some good things tonight,” Starkey said. “But Alexa was the only one who played well from start to finish.
“So much of what Lex does goes unnoticed by the common fan — her toughness, her communication on defense. A couple of times in the game she’s out there with four freshmen, and she’s directing traffic and making sure everybody knows where to go and what to do.”
Golden’s 17 points in the first half were the best 20 minutes of scoring in her career. Her high for a game is 22.
“If they’re not going to guard me from the three-point line, I’m going to shoot it,” she said in a radio interview with David Wilson on Golden Flash iHeart Radio.
Golden made three-of-five three-pointers Wednesday and leads the team in three-point percentage at 39.8. She also leads the team and the MAC in steals per conference game and leads KSU in assists. Golden is second in rebounding and blocked shots for the Flashes.
“She’s been a warrior for us every year,” Starkey said. “This year she’s a senior playing with a lot of confidence.”
Defense has always been Golden’s speciality, and her team held Eastern to its third-lowest point total of the MAC season. It also was the ninth team KSU has held a team to 54 points or fewer. The Flashes limited Danielle Minott, EMU’s leading scorer and a preseason all-MAC West selection, to five points.
“We wanted to get her in foul trouble,” Golden said. “And it was just, ‘Move our feet, stay in front of her and make her take tough shots.'”
Minott picked up three fouls in the first half, finished with four fouls and made two-of-eight shots.
Key to playing the Eagles, Golden said, was attacking them offensively and defensively.
“You can’t be passive,” she said. “You have to be the aggressors. And we came out tonight and were the aggressors, although in the third quarter we fell back a little bit. But we got it back on track.”
Starkey wasn’t happy with the team’s play in that quarter, when Eastern outscored KSU 16-15 and outrebounded the Flashes 13-8 (5-0 on offensive rebounds). And he really didn’t like the way KSU started the game.
Kent State give up four steals in the first quarter and had seven turnovers. The Flashes missed six of its first nine shots.
“We’re still having to overcome ourselves,” the coach said. “We’re searching for that complete team effort from start to finish. You could say that some of your best players don’t have their best games and we still won on the road by 13.
“At times we look really good in games, and other times in the same game we look like a completely different team.
“I was proud of the way we played through some of that early sloppiness. We had some moments that we played some really good basketball. But if the goal is to get to the top of the league, we’ve got to continue to improve. This conference is unforgiving, and every game down the stretch is going to be huge.”
- Three Kent players scored in double figures besides Golden. Megan Carter had 12, Asiah Dingle 11 and Lindsey Thall 10. It was the fifth time this season four Flashes have scored in double figures. Ali Poole just missed being the fifth with eight points. KSU hasn’t had five players score in double figures since 2010. Poole also had eight rebounds.
- The win was KSU’s second over EMU this season; the Flashes won the first 71-64 on Jan. 5. Under Starkey, Kent has beaten the Eagles all six times it has played them. Before that, the team had lost 11 in a row.
- Kent State made 41 percent of its field goals, about 3 points above its average, and 40 percent of its three-point attempts, 5 points better. Eastern made 32.8 percent of its shots, 5 points below its average and 6 points below KSU’s defensive average.
- Each team committed 16 turnovers, with Eastern outscored the Flashes 19-11 off of them.
- KSU outrebounded Eastern for the game 41-37. Golden’s double-double was Kent’s first of the season.
Kent State hosts Bowling Green at 5 p.m. Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader with the KSU men, who play Eastern Michigan at about 7:30.
(An earlier version of this story said Golden had nine rebounds. The unofficial statistics during the game were changed in the final box story.)
Around the MAC
Bowling Green won its first league game Wednesday, and it was quite an upset. The Falcons (1-10 MAC, 8-14 overall) beat second-place Buffalo 78-72 at BG. Bowling Green made 61 percent of its shots in the first half and 57 percent for the game. Buffalo is 8-3 and 16-6 and has the 31st-best RPI of Division I’s 351 teams. BG’s RPI is 210. Kent State’s is 82.
Another surprise came in Toledo, where the Rockets routed first-place Ohio 76-50. Toledo is 7-4 (15-7 overall) and in fifth place in the MAC, a game ahead of Kent State. Ohio slipped to a tie for second at 9-3 and is 20-3 overall.
Miami claimed first place for the first time this season with a 70-45 win over NIU. The Redhawks are 9-2 and 18-4 overall. Northern is 6-5 and 14-9.
Central Michigan (8-3, 17-6) 87, Western Michigan (2-8, 8-13) 53.
Akron (5-6, 14-5) 91, Ball State (2-9, 7-16) 61.
Miami is in first at 9-2, Ohio second at 9-3, Central and Buffalo tied for third at 8-3. Toledo is fifth at 7-4 with Kent State and NIU tied for sixth at 6-5. Akron follows at 5-6, then Eastern at 3-8, Western at 2-9, Ball State at 2-9 and BG at 1-10.