Still in hunt for tournament bye, Flashes start 2-game road trip at BG

Thall driving

Freshman Lindsey Thall has scored 38 points and made 10 of 14 3-point shots in KSU’s last two games. In conference games only, she leads the MAC in 3-point percentage at 49.3. (Photo by Austin Mariasy.)

 

After splitting two home games against two of the MAC’s best teams, Kent State takes to the road for two games against second-division teams.

The Flashes play at Bowling Green Saturday afternoon against a team that they beat at home 77-73 two weeks ago. On Wednesday, they make the 11-mile trip to Akron, a team they beat 73-58 Feb. 2.

The Flashes have a good chance to win both, but they can’t afford a slip if they are going to stay in contention for a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament.

Here’s the danger:

  1. Both teams have beaten good opponents at home this season. BG’s only conference victory came against fourth-place Buffalo 78-72 on Feb. 2. Akron has beaten Buffalo and Toledo in Akron.
  2. Kent State lost at both Bowling Green and Akron last season. The loss at BG sent the Flashes into a tailspin it never really came out of.  Kent State is a better than than it was last year, but so is Akron.

Kent State’s is 9-6 and tied for fifth place in the MAC with Toledo and Northern Illinois. Overall the Flashes are 16-10 and guaranteed their second winning season in eight years.

Bowling Green is in last place at 1-14 (8-18 overall). Akron is in eighth at 7-8 and is 15-10 overall.

Kent State is coming off of its best game of the season, a 67-58 upset of first-place Miami at the M.A.C. Center Wednesday.

“I hope that is some foreshadowing of what’s to come,” coach Todd Starkey said after Wednesday’s game. “But this team has struggled with consistency. So if we can put another game to back this one up at a really tough place to play at Bowling Green, that would be a really nice sign.”

The BG and Akron games are, however, a bit of a prologue for the last game of the season, when Buffalo plays at Kent. That came could well decide the fourth seed in the tournament. Buffalo has a big game of its own Saturday when it hosts Miami.

The Bowling Green game

Kent State (9-6 MAC, 16-10 overall) at Bowling Green (1-14 and 8-14) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

WHAT’S AT STAKE: If Kent State is going to challenge for fourth place and a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament, it pretty much has to win this game. BG has a shot at 10th place if it wins its last three games.

About Bowling Green

IN THE MAC: Last at 1-15. Only win was against Buffalo at BG.

(I use full league standings because seedings are determined solely on the conference record. Where a team finishes in its division means nothing.)

RPI: 222 of 351 teams. Schedule strength: 88. Home record: 5-7. Falcons have lost four in a row and lost at Kent State 77-73 on Feb. 16.

LAST GAME: Lost to Akron 83-73 in Bowling Green Wednesday.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference statistics only)

  • Scores 67.4 points a game, seventh in MAC. Opponents score 79.2 (last).
  • Field goal percentage: 41.4 (sixth). Field goal defense: 44.4 (11th).
  • 3-point percentage: 33.1 (sixth). 3-point baskets per game: 7.4 (fifth). Three-point defense: 35.6 (11th).
  • Rebounding margin: Minus-1.4 (eighth). Turnover margin: Minus-4.9 (last).

KEY PLAYERS

  • 6-1 junior wing Andrea Cecil: 16.2 points per game, 10th).  Field goal percent: 46.2, (seventh). Rebounds: 6.1 (17th).
  • 5-9 freshman guard Morgan McMillen: 11.3 points. 3-point percentage: 35.1 (ninth). Three-pointers per game: 2.6 (seventh).
  • 5-8 senior guard Sidney Lambert: 11.6 points. Assists: 3.4 (11th). Rebounds: 4.5.
  • 5-9 freshman guard Kadie Kempfling: 7.3 rebounds, (ninth).

Kent State

IN THE MAC: Tied for fifth with Northern Illinois and Toledo at 9-6, one game behind Buffalo.

RPI: 76, second highest of at least last eight years. (Team was 73rd after beating Toledo early in conference season. Schedule strength: 74. Road record: 6-7. Has won four of last five games and six of last eight.

LAST GAME: Beat first-place Miami 67-58 Wednesday in Kent.

KEY TEAM STATS (conference games only)

  • 67.1 points a game (eighth). Opponents average 64.7 (third).
  • Field goal percentage: 37.9 (last). Field goal defense: 40.6 (fourth).
  • 3-point percentage: 35.3 (second). 3-point baskets per game: 7.6  (fourth). 3-point defense: 32.6 (sixth).
  • Rebounding margin: Plus-0.9 (fifth). Turnover margin: Plus-2.0  (fourth)
  • Blocked shots: 3.8 (first). Steals: 8.6 (third).

KEY PLAYER STATS

  • 5-7 redshirt junior guard Megan Carter: 17.1 points, sixth in MAC. Field-goal percentage: 43.1 (ninth). 3-point percentage: 40.8 (fourth). Free-throw percentage: 75.0  (seventh).
  • 5-4 freshman point guard Asiah Dingle: 13.2 points (18th). Free-throw percentage: 77.0 (sixth). Steals: 2.1 (sixth).
  • 6-2 freshman forward Lindsey Thall: 10.8 points. 3-point percentage: 49.3 (first). Three-point field goals per game: 2.2) (ninth). Blocked shots: 1.7 (second). Rebounds: 5.1.
  • 5-9 senior guard Alexa Golden: 9.1 points. 3-point percentage: 39.6 (10th). Steals: 3.4 (first). Assists: 3.5 (first). Blocks: 0.7 (12th). Rebounds: 6.1 (18th).
  • 6-0 junior guard Ali Poole: 9.7 points,. Rebounds: 4.4.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Kent State is clear favorite. BG lost by only five in Kent.

To follow the game

The game starts at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Stroh Center at Bowling Green. It’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Kent. Here are directions from the BG website. Tickets are $15 for chair back tickets and $13 general admission. Best I can tell, that’s the second-highest prices in the MAC to Toledo. Average Bowling Green attendance is 1,802, fifth in the MAC.

Audio starts at about 12:45 p.m. on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. David Wilson does play-by-play.

Video is through ESPN3. The service covers about 50 percent of KSU basketball. You can watch it through your cable or satellite company or the ESPN app.

Live statistics are available through the Bowling Green website.

Links

Kent State women’s website, including links to statistics, roster and more.

Bowling Green website, including links.

MAC conference game statistics, including link to full-season stats.

MAC standings

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