Flashes have 14 steals in 62-48 win in Vegas, but Starkey isn’t happy

Dingle vs. Georgia (1)

Kent State’s Asiah Dingle (No. 3 in white) on defense vs. Georgia Southern. Dingle had six of Kent State’s 14 steals. It was a career high for the point guard. (WbbFlashes photo.)

Kent State had just beaten Georgia Southern 62-48, but coach Todd Starkey wasn’t pleased.

“I thought we played a very poor basketball game,” Starkey told announcer David Wilson on his postgame radio show. “When you play against a team who has only four assists and 25 turnovers, you better win by more than 14 and score more than 62 points.

“We had some good moments, but in order to be good in the MAC, you have to be a good team for four quarters. And we weren’t.”

It was Kent State’s first game in 11 days, so it might have been a case of needing to “shake the rust off,” Starkey said. After the Flashes lost to Purdue Dec. 11, the team took a week off for finals. This week has been travel and preparation for the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic.

The win moves Kent State’s record to 6-3. Georgia Southern, a Sun Belt Conference team, is 2-7.

The Flashes played their best defense statistically this season. Georgia Southern’s 48 points were the lowest KSU has allowed  by 10 points. The Eagles shooting percentage of 35.8 was the first time Kent State had held a team below 40%.

Kent had 14 steals, and Georgia Southern’s 25 turnovers were the most against KSU this season. The Flashes outscored the Eagles 25-3 off of those turnovers. They had 12 turnovers themselves, Georgia Southern had been forcing almost 20 a game.

So why was Starkey so unhappy?

  • Georgia Southern is far from a good team. The Eagles’ RPI ranking was 291 of 351 teams. (Kent’s was 61.) Kent’s Friday opponent, Troy, has an RPI of 85 and record of a record of 8-2.
  • The Flashes missed nine of 18 layups, some of those coming after steals and turnovers.
  • KSU’s offense went stagnant several times. The team didn’t score at all for the last seven minutes of the second quarter, though it still held a 29-24 halftime team. The Flashes’ 62 points were the second lowest they had scored this season.

“We’re a much better basketball team when we get ball movement,” Starkey said in his postgame interview with wbbFlashes. “Especially in the second quarter, we were trying to make way too many individual plays instead of really executing our offense and sharing the ball.”

A minute into the third quarter, freshman guard Katie Shumate grabbed three straight offensive rebounds, then sank a 8-foot jump shot. They sparked a 9-2 run, with eight of those points coming on baskets by Shumate.

“I had been struggling a little bit,” said Shumate, who had made just 26% of her shots in the last four games after leading the team in shooting percentage earlier in the season. “So it was nice to see some fall.”

And the offensive rebounds?

“After someone on my team puts a shot up, I see an opportunity to get another possession.”

Freshman Clare Kelly gave Kent a lift late in the third quarter with a 3-point basket and a determined offensive rebound just before the buzzer. After grabbing the ball, she slipped it to Megan Carter for a layup to give KSU a 47-34 lead.

The Flashes extended the lead to as many as 18 in the fourth quarter. Georgia Southern never got within nine.

Box score

Tomorrow vs. Troy

One reason Starkey may have been unhappy was thinking about tomorrow’s opponent.

Troy is on the opposite end of the Sun Belt from Georgia Southern. The Trojans were picked second in the league; Georgia Southern was picked 11th.

Troy leads Division I in rebounding and offensive rebounding (25 per game). It is fourth in the country in free throws made.

The Trojans have had eight different players lead the team in scoring this season and average 82.8 points a game, 10th in the country. They also give up 69 points a game, 24th in the country. Don’t expect a low scoring game.

Troy does miss a lot of shots. Its season field-goal percentage is 34.5, lowest of any team Kent has played.

Troy beat Toledo, which has had a disappointing season so far, 71-64 on Thursday.

“This is a much bigger, more physical team,” Starkey said. “They’re very good in transition, and man, do they have athletes. They keep coming at you in waves. We’re going to have to play significantly better tomorrow in order to come away with a second win.”

They game starts at 3 p.m. Kent time (noon in Las Vegas). You can watch a live stream of the game on Vimeo or listen to it on Golden Flash IHeart Radio.

Notes

  • Asiah Dingle led Kent State with 16 points, five assists and career-high six steals. Asked about the defense, she smiled and answered, “I just like stealing the ball.” Shumate on the steals: “Well, we have Asiah.”
  • Carter had 11 points, including three 3-point baskets in four attempts. She had two steals.
  • Just Dingle and Carter scored in double figures, the fewest number for the team this season.
  • Nila Blackford had two steals and two blocked shots to go with six points and five rebounds.
  • Lindsey Thall blocked four shots and had seven points and a steal.
  • Georgia Southern outrebounded KSU 42-34, though rebounding was much closer until the fourth quarter. Shumate led KSU with six rebounds.
  • KSU got 12 points from its bench, the most this season. Junior forward Monique Smith had four points, equaling a career high for the third time this season. She also had two steals, and Starkey said her energy game the team a lift in the first half.
  • Sophomore Annie Pavlansky made her first basket of the season and the first 3-pointer of her career with 22 seconds to go.
  • Ali Poole, who has been hampered with knee problems, since a summer injuiry, made her first basket of the season and played six minutes.
  • All 14 KSU players got into the game. Georgia Southern played 13, sometimes substituting five at a time.
  • Attendance was listed at 120. Thirty or 40 looked to be Kent State fans.

The view from Georgia Southern

Coach Anita Howard, quote on the team website:

“I’m not happy at all, I’m not pleased with us coming out to Vegas and showing no fight. We weren’t competing. The turnovers was because we were too lackadaisical.”

On moving forward:

“Its’s nothing with the Xs and Os. It’s all about what pumps inside your chest, and that’s your heart. Hopefully we’ll get that message across and come out with a renewed sense of energy tomorrow.”

For statistics junkies

Jay Fiorello is the assistant athletic communications director for women’s basketball. As we waited to interview Starkey and players after the game, he told me that a lot of the numbers in the box score didn’t look right.

They weren’t. The postgame box had Lindsey Thall was zero blocks. The revised had her with four. Asiah Dingle’s steal total went from four to six, a career high. As a team, Kent State picked up seven more rebounds; Georgia Southern added five. Points off turnovers rose to 25 for the Flashes, which might make coach Starkey a little happier.

How could things get that messed up? The folks running the tournament aren’t basketball people. The arena is used far more for rodeos.

They did get the final score right. Earlier this season, the people at Youngstown State at first had Kent winning 61-53. But the Flashes scored 62 points.

 

 

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