Lindsey Thall’s 32 points were the most scored by KSU player in two years and take her season average to 16.2 per game. (Photo from KSU Twitter feed.)
Lindsey Thall had just set a Kent State record with eight 3-point baskets. She made five-of-six of them in a fourth-quarter rally by the Flashes and seemed as if she couldn’t miss.
“It feels good,” she told reporters. “But losing feels worse.”
Kent State’s women fell to Ohio State 75-65 at the M.A.C. Center Thursday in the first game between the two schools in 38 years. The game was played in front an announced crowd of 4.272, perhaps the biggest crowd ever to see a KSU women’s game. (More on that in game notes below.)
The Buckeyes controlled the game for the first three quarters. They shot very well — 57% over that time. The score was 63-40 going into the fourth quarter, when the Flashes found their offense.
“Obviously we were a little bit over matched,” coach Todd Starkey said after the game. “Ohio State’s got a lot of talent. Their size is a lot to deal with. And they didn’t miss. It’s just like they hit every mid-range jump shot, contested or otherwise. There were knocking down 3s. So we have to get better defensively.
“But I was really proud of our fight all the way through. I told our team after the game, ‘We’re not OK with losing — I don’t care who it is. But I was really proud of the way they played from start to finish.”
Starkey said Thall came back after struggling in the third quarter.
“She got a little bit frustrated there in the third quarter because she missed a couple of layups,” the coach said. “I just told her, ‘Listen, I’m not even worried about that. You got to keep playing through that. You’re an incredible offensive player. If you’re shot is there, keep taking it. Have a short term memory.’
“She did. She’ll remember the rest of her life that she set a school record against Ohio State.”
Thall finished 32 points, 10 above her previous career high. It was the most points any current player on the team has scored and KSU’s first 30-point game since Jordan Korinek’s 36 in 2018.
— Kent State Women’s Basketball (@KentStWBB) November 22, 2019
Thall’s eight 3-pointers broke a record shared by five different players, most recently by Larissa Lurken in 2016. (Lurken and six other former players were at the game for the team’s alumni day.) Thall made eight-of-13 three-point attempts. A year ago she made 40% of her 3-point attempts in the regular season, third in the MAC, and 47% of attempts during the conference season, first by more than 3 percentage points.
Senior guard Megan Carter, who had three 3-pointers and 13 points herself, shook her head as she thought over Thall’s shooting in the fourth quarter. The team’s strategy in a situation like that?
“Just get her the ball,” she said.
Thall also made all six of her foul shots and shared the team lead with five rebounds. She played all by two minutes, the second most she’s ever played. Her 39-minute game came against Youngstown State two weeks ago when overtime pushed the game to 45 minutes.
Until the fourth quarter. Kent State’s shooting had been pretty weak. The Flashes were three for 18 in the first quarter and missed six of their first eight free throws (“a little bit of jitters there,” Starkey said).
“Gosh, how many layups did we miss?” the coach asked. “If we would have made some and defended a little bit better, I think we could have made this game more interesting. But you have to finish plays, and that’s one of the things that we struggled with a little bit early in the season.”
Some of KSU’s best shooters struggled. Freshman Katie Shumate went into the game making 50% of her shots and was KSU’s second-leading scorer. She was one of 15 Thursday. Leading scorer Asiah Dingle was zero for five and made three free throws (along with three assists and two steals). It was only the second time in her career she hadn’t made a basket.
Some of the offensive problems were because of Ohio State’s height and length. The Buckeyes have seven players 6-1 or taller. Kent State has two.
“They’re in the Big Ten,” Carter said. “So of course they’re going to be big and be strong. The first thing I think is like, ‘Box out and fight like hell.'”
On playing Ohio State?
“That’s all I heard about growing up,” said Thall, who is from Strongsville. “There’re the big school here. So playing against them was honestly just really surreal and really a great opportunity. We just have to play a full game from start to finish.”
About the 4,272 attendance
Jay Fiorello is the very capable assistant sports communication director for women’s basketball. He said the the biggest previous crowd he could find was 3,516 against Miami in February 2003. If I remember that game correctly, it was a “10 tickets for $10 promotion.” There don’t seem to be records before 2000. I’ve been going to games since 1989 and been on campus since 1985, and they certainly didn’t draw more than 1,500 during games then.
Judy Devine, Kent State’s first women’s basketball coach and a longtime administration in the athletic department, told me there had been crowds in the 3,000-plus range in the early days of women’s basketball — “another era,” she said.
Ohio State must have brought more than 300 fans to the game. Kierstan Bell, the OSU freshman who is a former Ohio Ms. Basketball from Canton McKinley, told a Columbus reporter she was bringing 40 friends and family herself. Bell scored seven points on 3-of-13 shooting.
KSU freshman Clare Kelly’s entire Olmsted Fall High School team was there. So were a bunch of other high school, middle school and youth teams.
- Kent State is 3-2 so far this season. Ohio State is 3-1, its loss being 74-68 to MAC favorite Ohio University on Sunday
- Kent State had only 10 turnovers and had no trouble against an occasional Ohio State press. The Buckeyes had 16 turnovers. Each team had 10 points off of turnovers.
- KSU had 12 assists on 20 baskets, by far its best performance of the year.
- Ohio State outrebounded the Flashes 43-30 and outscored them 38-12 in the paint. Kent State actually had more offensive rebounds — 12 to 10 — but the Flashes were missing a lot more shots than OSU and had a lot more chances. Kent State senior Sydney Brinlee had five rebounds, a career high, in 10 minutes.
- Nine Ohio State players got in the game. All played at least 17 minutes. Kent State played its entire roster, though its starting five all played at least 19 minutes. Sophomore Hannah Young played a season-high 17 minutes.
- Junior guard Braxtin Miller led OSU with 14 points. Sophomore guard Janai Crooms had 11 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
- The Flashes got only three points from their bench — a 3-point basket by Mariah Modkins in the last minute. Ohio State got 33 bench points.
- Dorka Juhasz, Ohio State’s 6-4 forward and a preseason all-Big Ten selection, didn’t play. She was fighting a leg injury.
Quotes in story are a mixture of postgame media interviews and broadcaster Ty Linder’s on-air interview with coach Todd Starkey after game.