Shumate’s tipped pass, Carter’s layup give Flashes last-second 82-81 victory

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Freshman Nila Blackford had her best game, and it was quite a game — 31 points on 11 baskets and nine free throws. She had nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots. (Photo from KSU website.)

Kent State had never practiced the defense that won its game against Robert Morris Sunday.

It came after a three-point basket by Lindsey Thall with seven seconds to play had made the score 81-80 RMU.

Katie Shumate tipped the Colonials’ inbound pass back out of bounds, and the referees took several minutes to make sure that was the right call. That gave Kent State a time to set up a defense that was quite different.

When the teams came back out, Kent State put two players with long arms — 5-11 Shumate and 6-2 Thall — guarding the RMU player trying to pass the ball inbounds, 5-8 guard Isabella Possett.

You could tell Possett was in trouble as soon as she tried to look around Shumate and Thall.

Shumate tipped the pass, it popped into the air, and KSU senior Megan Carter grabbed it about six feet from the basket. She took one dribble toward the basket and cleanly made a layup.

Here’s video of the game winner. Watch the double-team in the upper-left, then Carter’s winning basket.

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Carter’s basket gave Kent State its only lead of the game and an 82-81 victory over the Colonials, unanimous preseason favorites to win the Northeastern Conference.

The Flashes are now 4-2 on the season. Robert Morris is 2-3.

“It was something I saw from Penn State when I coached at Indiana,” coach Todd Starkey after the game. “They used to put three on the ball, and they’d create a wall.

He said he knew the Flashes had to deflect the inbound pass. If Robert Morris were able to pass the ball successfully, KSU would have to foul, RMU would get two shots, and KSU probably wouldn’t have the time to get the back down the court for a shot of final shots of its own.

“We put Katie, who’s bouncy, and Lindsay, who’s long, on it,” the arch said. “I said, ‘You’ve got four hands in there. Get one on the ball.'”

The other Kent State players “were just playing safety, like in football,” Starkey said. “I said, ‘Shoot the gap, find a way to get a steal.’

Then it was up to Carter.

“I just scooped it up,” she said. “I looked up,  I saw the basket, and I didn’t see anybody in front of me.

Was the play something the team had worked on?

“No, no,” Starkey said. “You can’t practice for every situation, especially with a young team. Their heads would just be swimming.”

Kent State trailed by as many as 18 points in the second quarter and 13 points with 4:54 to go.

In those last five minutes, the Flashes outscored Robert Morris 23-8. They made seven of 10 baskets, including three of three in the last 33 seconds. They scored on four fast breaks, two of them three-point plays and one a three-point basket. They made four-of-five free throws.

“Wwe just kept telling them: ‘We haven’t done a whole lot right. Just hang around, hang around, hang around. Give us an opportunity at the end. We did and we took advantage of it. We just kept coming back. They just kept fighting, kept chipping away.”

I mentioned freshman forward Nila Blackford’s numbers in the caption on her photo above. But they’re worth repeating:

  • 31 points on 11-of -16 field goal attempts. It was the most posts for a KSU freshman since Ellie Shields scored 31 vs. Toledo in 2008.
  • Nine-of 11-free throws.
  • Nine rebounds, four of them offensive.
  • Two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.

Blackford also drew eight fouls, playing primarily against Nneka Ezeigbo, last year’s defensive player of the year in the Northeastern Conference, and Ezeigbo’s 6-3 backup. Ezeigbo fouled out with 2:29 to play. She had 18 points and nine rebounds.

“We really wanted to get the ball to Nila a lot in the second half,” Starkey said. “They were helping so heavy on Lindsey because she’s such a great 3-point shooter. So we used her as a decoy and used a lot of plays to get Nila open on the inside. And then Nila did a great job of finishing down the stretch.”

Blackford had struggled with making shots at the rim early in the season and was hitting  just 35% of her shots going into the game.

What’s the art of finishing?

Focus,” Blackford said. “Focus. Keeping my eyes on the basket and finishing through contact.”

Box score

Notes

  • Carter had 16 points, Shumate 13, Thall 11 and Asiah Dingle nine.
  • Kent State did its best shooting of the season, even after making just 23.1% (three of 13) in the first quarter. The Flashes finished at 50.9%, including 11 of 16 or 668.8% in the fourth quarter.
  • Robert Morris made 28 of its 56 shots for 50%. It was the fifth time in six games an opponent has shot 45% or better against the Flashes.
  • Carter’s game winner was her second of the season. Her shot with 0.4 seconds to go beat Duquesne 77-75 in KSU’s opener.
  • For the third time this season, KSU’s points off turnovers gave them far more than the winning margin. The Flashes forced 17 turnovers and scored 24 points from them. Robert Morris scored 11 points off of 15 Kent turnovers. Shumate produced four of those turnovers with steals.
  • The Flashes had 18 assists on 28 baskets, highest of the season in total assists and percentage of baskets assisted. Asiah Dingle had six assists (but seven turnovers).
  • KSU’s bench scored just two points, a basket by junior Monique Smith. Robert Morris reserves scored 23.
  • Robert Morris made 3-point shots at the buzzer of the first and third quarter and two more 3-pointers as the shot clock expired.
  • Blackford’s 31 points was the second time in two games a KSU player had scored more than 30. Thall had 32 against Ohio State Thursday. The last time that happened was in February 1991. In subsequent games, Tracy Lynn scores 38 agains tWestern Michigan, Ann Forbes scored 32 against Ohio and Lynn scored 32 against Central Michigan. KSU averages 91.3 points in those three games.

Kent State is now off for Thanksgiving and plays next at noon Tuesday, Dec. 3 against St. Bonaventure, which is 1-5 this season. The noon start is for an education day in which local elementary, middle school and high school students are bused to campus for tours.

Video highlights, including Thall and Carter baskets at end with radio announcer Dan Griffin making the call of the winning basket.

From KSU Twitter, more video.

Thall’s 3-pointer to make the game 81-80.

Carter 3-pointer with 24 seconds to go.

 

Asiah Dingle with a driving basket.

Another 3-pointer by Carter

 

2 comments

  1. goldenflash101

    Blackford had a great game but I think Shumate will end up being a great player. Blackford gets her points in the structure of the offense but it looks like Shumate can create her own shot.. Lurkin, Zerman, Sherry like. She’s a little over anxious right now but look out by Conference time. Unlike many of our players she actually has some size. The bench is giving us some minutes now too. The points have to come from Poole or Young. Hopefully that will develop over the next few games. I thought Dingle played a below average game for her. A lot of her turnovers were just plain sloppy. Sometimes she will try to do too much but yesterday she just lost focus a few times. With 5’3” and 5’0” point guards we can’t afford that very often.

    Like

    • Carl Schierhorn

      The team really can score from every position. I think Shumate will become the player you want with the ball late in the game. They’re getting minutes from the bench but no scoring. Indeed, not one of Dingle’s best games but she had a couple fast breaks at the end they needed. Blackford is really playing out of position. She’s a 4, not a 5. Add the 6-4 transfer from Indiana, and this team will be something.

      Like

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