Megan Carter’s 21 points, including 1,000th of her career, lead Flashes past St. Bonaventure 81-58

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The tip in front of almost a full side of bleachers of Kent elementary school students at the noon “Kids Day” game. Total attendance was 2,104, second only to this season’s  Ohio State game over the last 15 years. 

Megan Carter says her philosophy on foul shots is, “Don’t leave points on the board.”

She and her teammates left exactly one on Tuesday. making  30 of 31 attempts on their way to a 81-58 victory over St. Bonaventure.

Carter had 21 points, including the 1,000th point of her career, to lead the Flashes to their fifth win of the season. She is the 22nd Kent State player to score more than 1,000.

Carter, a fifth-year senior, is a career 74% foul shooter. She made 12 out of 12 Tuesday, tying the fourth best performance in school history.  So far this season she’s made 35 of 40 or 87.5%.

“I always stay after practice until I make at least 50, just working with the coaches on my mechanics,” she said.

Her 21 points are her most so far this season. Carter led the team in scoring last season but struggled with a thumb injury at the beginning of the season. Other players have picked up the slack; all five KSU starters average in double figures. Carter is third on the team at 12.9 points per game.

“It’s been a long road for her to get to the point,” coach Todd Starkey said. “It’s quite the accomplishment. She’s earned it.”

Carter lost most of her freshman season to a knee injury (the third of her career going back to eighth grade). At times, she’s struggled with eligibility, confidence and consistency, but she’s fought her way to the all-MAC third team last season and the all-MAC East preseason team this year. After Tuesday, she has 1,014 points. She’ll also graduate in two weeks, though she’ll stay in school to play in spring semester.

(This story by Stater sports editor Gina Butkovich tells about Carter’s journey.)

Starkey called the victory the team’s “most complete game from start to finish.” It was the Flashes’:

  • Largest margin of victory by 14 points.
  • The fewest points they’ve allowed this season.
  • The second-lowest field goal percentage (40.7) by an opponent.
  • The best team free-throw performance in school history when Kent State has shot more than 20 times from the line.
  • The team’s best assist-to-turnover ratio since 2017 (14 to 9).

“We really wanted to run our offense and trust it instead of breaking the play off and trying to make something happen,” Starkey said. “That is something that we’ve struggled. We did a better job of screening. We got really good looks around the basket.

“It’s been a point of emphasis for us to have more assists. And we had 14 assists and nine turnovers — I will take that every night. We want to try and average around 14 assists a game, so I think we’re starting to do a better job of sharing the basketball.”

Going into the game, Kent State had averaged 11 assists per game, second to last in the MAC. Its assist-to turnover ratio had been 0.78. Tuesday the ratio was 1.55.

Kent State’s Nila Blackford had her third double-double of the season with 20 points and 20 rebounds. She has missed two more by one rebound.

“I knew Nila was going to be good coming in,” Starkey said. “And the way she’s played in the last two games… (31 points and nine rebounds against Robert Morris, 20 points and 10 rebounds against St. Bonaventure).

“She’s really starting to come into her own, and the scary part is her best basketball is still ahead of her. She’s still learning. She wants two be coached. She’s done a great job in practices and getting in and studying film.”

Starkey said he was happier with Blackford’s 10 rebounds than 20 points.

“The points are going to come because she’s a good player,” he said. “It’s the consistency on the boards I appreciate the most. That’s a big, big thing for our team.”

Blackford, a 6-2 freshman from Louisville, Kentucky, has led the team in rebounding in six of seven games. Her 8.4 rebounding average is sixth in the MAC.

After Tuesday, she leads the Flashes in scoring at 15.6 per game. Against St. Bonaventure, she also led the Flashes in assists with four.

“I think it’s just us playing together so much,” Blackford said “It’s kind of like instinct. — like when I see Lindsey or Asiah, it’s just I know that they’re going to get up and get that pass.”

Besides assists, she said, setting better screens has been an emphasis in practice.

“The screens open up players more,” Blackford said. “They open up paths to the basket.”

On rebounding, where she’s third in the MAC in offensive rebounds per game:

“When the ball goes up, I’m looking for any possible way I can go get it, to be the first one to get to it.”

Box score

Notes

  • Kent State’s 5-2 start is its best since 2010-11, when the Flashes won their first six games and went 9-3 in non-conference play. St. Bonaventure is 1-7. The KSU loss was the Bonnies’ worst of the season by 11 points.
  • Sophomore Hannah Young got her first collegiate start, scoring five points with two rebounds, two assists and a block in 15 minutes. Point guard Asiah Dingle came off the bench after about five minutes and still played 25 minutes. (“Coach’s decision,” Starkey said.) Dingle had seven points, three assists and two steals.
  • Lindsey Thall was KSU’s third player in double figures with 11 points.
  • The Flashes got 18 points from the bench, by far their most of the year. Junior forward Monique Smith equaled a career high with four points.
  • Everyone on the roster played except Ali Poole, who has been slowed by a knee injury. Starkey said she’d be able to play in future games, but there was no point in risking aggravating her injury in a game the Flashes were winning easily.
  • The Flashes forced 16 turnovers and scored 15 points off of them. St. Bonaventure scored 11 off Kent State’s nine turnovers. It was the fifth time this season Kent State has had fewer turnovers than its opponent and the sixth time KSU has had more points off of turnovers.
  • Kent State made 39% of its shots, about its average for the season. St. Bonaventure made 40.7% of its filed goal attempts, the second-best defensive average for the Flashes this season. Purdue Fort Wayne had made 39.7%.
  • St. Bonaventure came into the game averaging eight 3-point baskets a game and 36.6% on 3-point shots. The Bonnies made four of 14 for 28.6%.
  • KSU outrebounded St. Bonaventure 27-32. Katie Shumate equaled Blackford’s 10 rebounds, setting a career high.

Kent State plays at Purdue (6-1) at 1 p.m. Kent time on Sunday, the third of its three games against Big Ten teams.

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