KSU’s freshman Nila Blackford had her second double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. She’s led KSU in rebounding every game. (Photo from team website.)
Kent State had been looking for a spark off the bench all season, and got a good one Saturday from sophomore Hannah Young.
Young led a third-quarter rally that saw the Flashes make their first 11 shots from the field after halftime. Young went four for four with a 3-point basket during that time.
KSU’s shooting cooled in the fourth quarter, but the Flashes made all 14 of their free throws in the last two minutes to post a 75-67 win over Purdue Fort Wayne.
Kent State’s record is now 3-1; Fort Wayne is 2-3.
Young had scored eight points off the bench against Michigan Friday on two-of-two shooting. Her 17 points off the bench this weekend are more than all other Kent State reserves combined this season.
“I knew we could use a little bit of a spark,” Young said, “and I came out with every thing I had.”
How does it feel when every shot is going in — for her and the team?
“Honestly, you take your shot and you forget what just happened. Then you keep on going and keep playing your game.”
Coach Todd Starkey said Young played “really well.”
“We always talk about that — you never know what it’s going to be your opportunity,” he said. “And certainly it was hers today., and she took full advantage of it. So I’m really pleased. She’s been working hard.”
Even though Kent State led for all but 15 seconds of the game, it was probably the team’s worst game in its three victories. The Flashes made 22 turnovers — seven more than their next highest. Fort Wayne had only 12, the fewest an opponent has had all season, though somehow Kent State outscored the Mastodons 13-12 from turnovers.
“We got careless,” Starkey said. “We weren’t playing connected with each other, and we didn’t execute our press offense very well.”
The cure, freshman Katie Shumate, said, is to “slow down, get set up and stop thinking too much.”
“Having that many turnovers is not going to get us where we want to be.”
Fort Wayne had lost to fellow MAC school Ball State by 31 points and to Akron by 11.
“We’re finding ways to win, but we definitely have a large margin for improvement,” Starkey said. “We have to play much more disciplined on the defensive end. We had way too many turnovers. We gave up way too many offensive rebounds.
“This team is young, but we have to continue to grow.”
The key, Starkey said, is more consistency in games and in practice. How does the coaching staff teach consistency?
“By the discipline that you have in practice every day. So we gotta got gotta tighten the screws a little bit in practice and not letting them get away with some things. We’ve tried to be patient because of our youth, but sometimes when you’re when you’re a little bit too patient, some complacency creeps in.”
Asiah Dingle led KSU with 17 points. Nila Blackford had her second double-double of the season with 16 and 10 rebounds, and Katie Shumate scored 16 points and had three steals. Young and Lindsey Thall had nine points and Megan Carter eight.
Next for the Flashes is their second Big Ten opponent in five days.
Ohio State visits the M.A.C. Center Thursday for the the teams’ first game in 37 years. The Buckeyes are 2-0, including a 78-73 overtime win at Cincinnati. They play MAC favorite Ohio in Columbus Sunday.
Thursday’s game starts about 7:30 p.m. and is the second game of a doubleheader with the KSU men, who play Division II Concord at 5 p.m.
Akron plays Michigan tough but falls 80-71
The Zips led No. 24 Michigan going into the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines outscored Akron 25-13 the rest of the game to win 80-71.
Michigan had beaten Kent State 88-53 on Friday.
On Saturday the Zips made the 3-point shots Kent State had missed the previous day. Michigan had a far lower 3-point percentage than against KSU.
Akron trailed by 15 in the first quarter but rallied to trail by seven at halftime. Then the Zips outscored Michigan 24-14 in the third quarter, finishing the period with two 3-point baskets to take a 68-65 lead.
Michigan went ahead 62-61 on a three-point play two minutes into the fourth quarter and controlled the rest of the game, shooting 70% in the fourth quarter. Against Kent State, Michigan shot 75% in the last 10 minutes.
For the game, Michigan made 59.6% of its shots, even better than the 54.7% they shot against Kent State. But the Wolverines were two of 10 from 3-point distance for the game. Against Kent, Michigan was nine of 17.
Akron made 11 of its 27 three-point shots for 40.7%. Friday KSU was five of 27 for 185%.
Akron is 2-1 on the season. Michigan is 4-0 against four mid-major teams, three of them from the MAC. (The Wolverines beat Western Michigan 76-55 in their opener. They play Notre Dame Saturday and at Eastern Michigan, another MAC team, Nov. 27.)
More on the game is on the Akron website.
- Kent State outrebounded the Mastodons 41-24. The Flashes had 12 offensive rebounds, Purdue Fort Wayne 11. Fort Wayne outscored KSU on second-chance points 16-7.
- The Flashes continue to struggle with their passing game on offense. They had only nine assists on 24 baskets and are averaging fewer assists than last year, when they were 311th of 351 Division I teams in assist per game.
- Kent State made 49% of its shots, its highest of the season by 7 points. The Flashes struggled from the 3-point line for the third straight game. After going 10-for-19 from distance in its opener, KSU has made 14 for 56 since. That’s 25%.
- Thall had eight rebounds, one off her career high, and blocked two shots. She has blocked eight in four games; last season she led the MAC in blocks. Her three assists equaled a career high.
- Blackford, a 6-2 freshman from Louisville, Kentucky, has led the team in rebounding in every game and averages 8.8 a game. She was fouled 10 times Saturday and drew nine against Michigan Friday. When she was on the floor Saturday, Kent State outscored Fort Wayne by 18 points.
- Kent State’s weekend games were part of the Akron Classic, in which Kent and Akron play the same two teams in a two-day event. Next year the games will be in Kent as the Kent Classic.
An earlier version of this story said Kent State made 12 free throws in the last two minutes. I counted wrong. It was 14.