Katie had 14 points, including eight in Kent State’s fourth-quarter rally. (File photo by David Dermer.)
This is not how Kent State hoped to start its conference season.
The Flashes lost their second straight in the MAC Wednesday, falling 74-69 to Eastern Michigan at home. A team that hoped to challenge for a top-four finish in the league at the least now has to dig out of an 0-2 hole. The loss at home to Eastern, a team with a worse record, especially hurts. The Eagles are 2-0 in the MAC and 7-6 overall.
Eastern was clearly the better team Wednesday. The Eagles scored the first basket two minutes into the game and led for the next 38 minutes. KSU rallied in the last four minutes but couldn’t get closer than three points.
“Eastern Michigan is a much better team this year,” coach Todd Starkey said, “but we can’t start the way we did offensively.”
The Flashes missed their first eight shots and made seven of 30 (28%) in the first half.
“We got some decent looks, but we let them take us out of our stuff,” Starkey said. “We tried to run certain actions to get shots we eared early. I think about half of those eight shots were ones that we wanted to get. The others were kind of forced.
“We played a passive first half, and you can’t do that against anybody.”
Eastern struggled shooting, too — at least on 2-point shots, where they made just 5 of 22 in the fist half.
But from 3-point distance, the Eagles made eight of 12 for the game, by far their best percentage of the year. They had been averaging 29.9% from distance before the game.
“We gave them some very good looks,” Starkey said. “I think of those 12 3s, not even half of them were contested.”
The Flashes played better in the second half, when they made 11 of 23 shots for 48%. They played much better in the last minutes, but they started from too far behind.
Kent State was down by 12 points with 2:07 to go. At that point, Eastern had outscored Kent off turnovers by 19-13. KSU had 16 turnovers; Eastern 14.
Then the Flashes had steals on Eastern’s next three possessions and cut the lead to 70-64.
The Flashes forced seven turnovers over the last four minutes and scored 11 points from them. They made four of their last seven shots and made 13 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We had more of a sense of urgency,” said freshman guard Katie Shumate, who eight of her 14 points in the fourth quarter.
But Eastern made 12 of its 13 foul shots in the last quarter and five in the last 30 seconds.
Fouls and more fouls
Referees called 58 fouls in the game, 33 on Eastern and 25 on Kent State. Three EMU players fouled out, and three more had four fouls. Three guards had fouled out when KSU made its run at the end. Kent State’s Shumate fouled out in the last seconds. Three Flashes finished with four fouls.
The Eagles made 28 of their 35 free throws, Kent State 27 of its 33.
All the clock stoppages for fouls made the game last two hours and 20 minutes, a half hour longer than usual.
- Five Kent State players scored in double figures, led by Megan Carter with 15. Shumate had 14, Asiah Dingle and Lindsey Thall 11 and Nila Blackford 10. Dingle came bench two minutes into the game. Freshman Clare Kelly started but didn’t score in 16 minutes.
- The Flashes held EMU’s Areanna Combs to 15 points, her lowest of the season. She had scored more than 20 in all six games she had played and had 32 against Bowling Green Saturday. Combs made just 3 of 18 field goals. (“We tried to crowd the paint on her and make her take tough shots,” Starkey said.) Combs did made 9 of 11 free throws and have nine rebounds. She drew nine fouls from KSU players.
- Thall blocked seven shots, one off her career high. She was fourth in the MAC going into the game.
- Eastern dominated rebounding, especially in the second half. Rebounds were even at 23 at halftime. The final was 43-30.
- Eastern has won five games in a row and is 2-0 in the MAC for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
- Kent State has lost two in a row for the first time this season.
Kent State returns to action at 1 p.m. Saturday against Western Michigan. The Broncos are 2-0 on the MAC after winning at Akron 56-51 Wednesday. They’re 9-4 overall and have won three in a row. Saturday’s game is the first of a doubleheader with the Kent State men, who play Central Michigan 30 minutes after the women finish.
Other MAC scores
- Central Michigan (2-0 MAC, 9-4 overall) 73, Ohio (1-1, 8-5) 71 at Ohio.
- Toledo (1-1, 6-7) 71, Buffalo (1-1, 10-3) 59 at Toledo.
- Miami (1-1, 8-6) 66, Northern Illinois (0-2, 4-9) 64 at Miami.
- Ball State (2-0, 10-4) 86, Bowling Green (0-2, 7-7) 80 at BG.