Kent State President Beverly Warren, who’s about 5 feet tall, between 6-4 women’s coach Todd Starkey (right) and 6-6 assistant Mike McKee during National Anthem at team’s “Play4Kay” game Saturday. Game honors women’s cancer survivors like Warren.
After four quarters so different it seemed as if Kent State and Bowling Green had played four games, it came down to freshman Asiah Dingle.
The score was 73-73 with fewer than 10 seconds to go. Dingle, the Flashes’ ultimate drive-to-the-basket player, had the ball at the top of the key. Other KSU played cleared the foul lane and Dingle took off, going around one player and drawing a foul five seconds left.
She made both fouls shots, the Flashes forced a turnover on BG’s last chance, and Megan Carter hit two more free throws to end the game.
“We wanted to make them defend us without fouling,” coach Todd Starkey said. After a lot of foul calls had gone against the Flashes in the fourth quarter, “We wanted to give the officials have the same opportunity to call the same fouls for us.
“So we wanted to get Asiah to the basket. If they don’t collapse on her, she finishes or draws the foul. If they do, we have a shooter in the corner ready for her to kick it.
“It was kind of the parting of the Red Sea. They stayed on the other shooters and Asiah got the foul. Percentage-wise she’s our best free-throw shooter, so we’re comfortable with her in that situation.”
As she always does, Dingle took the ball from the official at the line and almost in the same motion, shot it. “Don’t want to get all anxious about it,” she said.
Dingle finished with 21 points, her second-highest total of the year. She also had five steals and four assists.
Dingle led four KSU players in double figures. Ali Poole had 17 and a critical steal in the fourth quarter, Carter scored 16 with four assists and Lindsey Thall had 12.
Kent State is now 7-5 in MAC and tied for fifth in the conference. BG is 1-11 and 8-15.
The game’s tight ending came after four quarters of crazy swings. In the game’s first six minutes, the teams combined to make nine of 13 three-point shots. By the end of the quarter, it was 25-19 Kent. The Flashes had six assists and outscored BG 7-0 off turnovers. (KSU committed none all quarter.)
But in the second quarter, BG forced eight Kent State turnovers and outscored KSU 13-2 off of them. The Falcons made four-of-six three-point attempts and six-of-11 shots overall. Kent made three-of-11 field goal tries.
So at halftime, it was 40-38 Bowling Green.
The third quarter swung the other way. The Flashes outscored BG 20-8, outscoring the Falcons 6-0 off turnovers and hold them to three-of-11 shooting. KSU made nine of its 18 shots. Key was a defensive adjustment after Bowling Green made seven-of-13 three-pointers in the first half.
“We were helping on drives, but they weren’t really driving to score,” Starkey said. “They were driving to kick out to three-point shooters, and it gave them so many open looks. So we said, ‘Stay on the shooters,’ and they weren’t able to get as many.”
Kent State led by as many as 13 points halfway through the fourth quarter, then the momentum swung back to BG. Kent missed four shots and committed two turnovers as Bowling Green went on an 11-0 run and tied the game at 71 with 1:54 to play.
“We had really good looks,” Dingle said. “They just didn’t go down. But we hung in there.”
In the huddle, Carter said, the word was, ‘Don’t get down on ourselves. Keep playing — the next play, then the next play. We’re fine. ‘”
With just over a minute left in the game, Poole knocked the ball away from BG senior Sydney Lambert and drove three-quarters of the court for a layup. It was 73-71 KSU.
“We needed that one so bad,” Starkey said. “We just needed something to go our way. It was a huge, huge individual play by Ali.”
Dingle the thief
Dingle had five steals for the third time this season and, just as important, committed only two fouls. She’s fought foul trouble throughout the season. What gave her the steals?
“They were just dribbling it in front of them,” she said.
“She has phenomenal timing,” Starkey said. “We’ve been trying to coach her to pick her spots so she’s not getting fouls in areas where it doesn’t make a difference. But in areas that it does, she can time the dribble. And if they expose it, I have a lot of confidence in her being able to steal the ball without fouling.”
Dingle averages 2.3 steals in MAC games, sixth in the conference.
In first is teammate Alexa Golden at 3.4, which is 0.6 ahead of the rest of the league. Golden had four steals Saturday, the seventh time in 12 league games she’s had four or more.
As a team, Kent had 13 steals Saturday, its high for the conference season and tied for second for the year.
- The win ties Kent State with Toledo and Northern Illinois for fifth place in the MAC, one game behind Buffalo. The Flashes beat NIU and Toledo earlier in the season and therefore would get the fifth seed in the league tournament if the teams tied.
- Team’s 14th win is one more than Flashes won all last season with at least seven games to play.
- Kent State made 26 of 67 shots for 38.8 percent, about its season average. Buffalo was 22 of 44 for 50 percent, 9 points above its average and 10 points above Kent’s defensive average.
- But the Flashes took an astounding 23 more shots than BG because of a 23-15 turnover advantage and a 12-3 edge in offensive rebounding. KSU had 13 second-chance points to Bowling Green’s four.
- Kent State had 13 assists on its 26 baskets. When the Flashes get more than 10 assists, they seem to play much better.
- The game was KSU’s “Play4Kay” event to support women’s cancer research and to honor cancer survivors. After KSU’s starting lineup was announced, seniors Golden and Merissa Barber-Smith went into the stands to hand Kent State President Beverly Warren a bouquet. Warren, a breast cancer survivor, also stood with the team during the National Anthem.
- Attendance was announced at 1,660, second highest of the season.
Kent State travels to Western Michigan Wednesday. The Flashes built a big lead against Western last week and held on for a 55-51 win.
Around the MAC
- Central Michigan (9-3 MAC, 18-6 overall) 100, Buffalo (8-4, 16-7) 95 at Buffalo.
- Northern Illinois (7-5, 15-9) 54, Toledo (7-5, 15-8) 52 at Northern.
- Ohio (10-3, 21-3) 70, Western Michigan (2-9, 8-14) 56 at Ohio.
- Miami (10-2, 19-4) 67, Akron (5-7, 14-9) 61 at Akron.
- Eastern Michigan (4-8, 11-12) 56, Ball State (2-10, 7-17) 53 at Eastern.
Miami still leads the league at 10-2. Ohio is second at 10-3, Central third at 9-3 and Buffalo fourth at 8-4.