Kent State’s strong second half made the difference in opening victory

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Lindsay Thall goes to the basket in Tuesday’s game at Duquesne. Thall scored 22 points and make six 3-point shots. (Photo by David Dermer. Other good photos of the women’s game and Wednesday’s men’s game are on Dermer’s Twitter feed — @DavidDermerPix.)

Until I took a deeper look into the box score of Kent State’s win over Duquesne, I didn’t realize how well the Flashes had played in the second half.

The first half was not good — 35% shooting to Duquesne’s 50%. 13 rebounds to Duquesne’s 29. Halftime score was 45-38.

The first quarter was downright bad — 29% shooting (Duquesne 59%). Five rebounds (Duquesne 14).  First quarter score was 25-16.

The second half belonged to the Flashes:

  • 54% shooting (14 of 26) to Duquesne’s 44%. KSU made 60% of its shots in the third quarter.  Duquesne made only three of 10 in the fourth.
  • 17 rebounds to Duquesne’s 15. That’s a huge reversal, though it’s due somewhat to KSU’s missing fewer shots, and therefore giving Duquesne fewer chances for rebounds.

The Flashes made some offensive and defensive adjustments at halftime, coach Todd Starkey said. And, the coach said, they just played better as the team’s freshmen settled down.

“I loved the way that we regrouped,” said senior Megan Carter, who hit the basket with 0.2 second to go to win the game. “We didn’t let mistakes get the best of us, and we kept playing.”

Foul play

Three Duquesne starters fouled out. A fourth had four fouls. Overall Duquesne had 29 fouls to Kent State’s 17. It was one of the keys to the game.

“They were playing very physical, and the way the game is supposed to be called right now, those are fouls,” Starkey said.

Duquesne’s coach didn’t complain.

“I’m not criticizing the officials,” the Dukes’ Dan Burt said in his postgame news conference. “We’ve got to get smarter.

The referees called a ton of offensive fouls. Two Duquesne starters fouled out on them. “It was real legit,” Burt said of forward Paige Cannon’s two fourth quarter fouls. “She pushed off twice.”

The stat sheet told Starkey another part of the story.

“One of the key stats of the game is fouls drawn,” he said. “Katie Shumate drew nine. We talk about playing aggressive and make the other team defend you. They obviously they couldn’t defend Katie.”

Asiah Dingle drew seven fouls. Carter and freshman forward Nila Blackford drew five each.

Kent State struggled turning those fouls into points, making only 13 of 22 free throws. KSU freshmen missed six of those — first game jitters, perhaps?

Notes

  • Lindsay Thall’s six 3-point field goals were one off the school record and equaled a career high. Thall, who make 40% of her 3-pointers last season, was six of nine Tuesday.
  • Five Kent State players scored in double figures, something that happened only once last season.
  • Because of lingering injuries to seniors Carter (thumb) and Ali Poole, the Flashes started three freshmen (Blackford, Shumate and Clare Kelly) and two sophomores (Dingle and Thall). Kelly hit a 3-point basket to score KSU’s first points of the season, but she played only six minutes.
  • Carter replaced Kelly two minutes into the game and played 35 minutes. Shumate played 38, Dingle 35, Thall 30 and Blackford 25. Poole played 14 minutes off the bench. Senior forward Sydney Brinlee played eight, sophomore guard Mariah Modkins played four and sophomore wing Annie Pavlansky played about a minute and a half. It was the first time Pavlansky had played in a close game in her time in Kent.
  • After Tuesday, Carter has 936 points. She ought to be the team’s 22nd 1,000-point scorer before Christmas.
  • Kent’s win breaks a four-game losing streak to Duquesne. The Flashes are 3-5 against the Dukes all time.
  • The game was the first the Duquesne women have ever played in the PPG Paints Arena, home of hockey’s Pittsburgh Penguins. The Duquesne arena is being renovated, and the Duke women will play “home” games at four different sites near Pittsburgh this season, including at their rec center.

The view from Duquesne

From coach Dan Burt:

“It was a two-point loss to a good team from a league that frankly is much better than ours from an RPI standpoint.”

“It was disappointing after the way we started. In the second and third quarter, (Kent State) was able to score and get back and set up their defense.”

“(Duquesne defenders) had a difficult time guarding a drive, then getting back out to cover (KSU’s Thall), who is a very good three-point shooter. That’s where our breakdowns happened. If we close out an extra three or six inches, they probably won’t take some of those shots.”

Around the MAC

  • No. 21 Syracuse 66, Ohio 54 at Syracuse. Ohio, 30-6 last season, is favored to win the MAC.
  • Green Bay 109, Central Michigan 105 in double overtime at Central. Defending champion Central is a slight favorite to win the West Division, even though the Chippewas lost two all-conference first-team players. Green Bay is the team Kent State beat in the WNIT last season.
  • Harvard 59, Northern Illinois 53 at NIU. Northern was picked just behind Central in the West. Harvard was picked third in the Ivy League.
  • Buffalo 61, Central Connecticut 56 at Buffalo. Buffalo was picked second in the East, one spot above Kent State.
  • No. 17 Michigan State 88, Eastern Michigan 50 at Michigan State.
  • Toledo 74, Georgia State 48 at Georgia State. Toledo was picked third in the West.
  • Indiana-Purdue at Indianapolis 65, Ball State 48 at IUPUI.
  • Bowling Green 89, Cleveland State 62 at Bowling Green.

The shot heard ’round the MAC

Megan Carter’s winning basket made the top 10 plays of the day on ESPN’s Sports Center. Here’s one more look and how KSU radio announcer David Wilson called it.

 

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