Surprising Western Michigan, 2-0 in MAC and 9-4 overall, visits M.A.C.C. Saturday

carter-1000.jpeg

Senior guard Megan Carter (with coach Todd Starkey) was honored before Wednesday’s game for becoming Kent State’s 22nd 1,000-point scorer. She hit that mark against St. Bonaventure in December and now has 1,089. (wbbFlashes.com photo.)

Western Michigan (9-4, 2-0 MAC) at Kent State (7-6, 0-6 MAC)

1 p.m. Saturday at the M.A.C. Center. General admission tickets are $5. Students are free with Kent State ID. It’s first game of a doubleheader with KSU men, who play Central Michigan a half hour after women finish. One ticket gets you in both games.

What’s at stake

At 0-2 in the MAC, Kent State desperately needs a win.

But this game looks a lot more challenging that it did a month ago. I don’t know whether the Flashes would even be favored despite its being a home game.

Western has won its first two conference games, including a 56-51 win at Akron Wednesday. It has won seven of its last eight. Before that streak, the Broncos’ RPI ranking was among the lowest in the MAC. RPI is a system that ranks team based on their record and strength of schedule. Road wins and home losses are weighted more heavily. Western was picked to finish last in the West.

Kent State lost 74-69 to Eastern Michigan at home Wednesday. Eastern led by eight to 12 points for most of the game until the last three minutes. The Flashes lost at Ball State 66-62 Saturday. Both Eastern and Ball State are 2-0 in the conference.


EASTERN MICHIGAN GAME REPORT CARD; Failure on shooting and assists.


“We’re losing close games and playing poorly,” coach Todd Starkey said after the EMU game. “So if there’s any constellation, it’s that we’re not playing well and we’re losing close games. There’s no excuse. But it gives us a significant amount of hope that if we can start playing well, we can beat anybody.

“There’s no magic formula or fairy dust you sprinkle, and all of a sudden something better. It’s not about coming up with new special plays or anything. It’s about working harder and being more disciplined and everybody buying into the process.

“There’s no gimmes in this league. It’s just literally going back to work. In conference play, unlike a non-conference play, you can’t rely on miracle game winners at the end.”

Kent State won two non-conference games in the last seconds, including a tip and basket off an inbounds play that beat Reobert Morris 82-81. The Flashes had trailed by six with 30 seconds to go.

“The MAC is totally different. Everybody’s seeing that and learning that,” KSU senior guard Megan Carter said Wednesday. “Our immaturity is showing a little bit. We let our mistakes snowball today, and they capitalized on it. We’re just beating ourselves right now. That’s really it.”

Carter is the team’s only upperclass starter. The other four are sophomores and freshmen.

What to watch

Western brings one of the MAC’s best post players in redshirt senior Breanna Mobley, who leads the MAC in rebounding at 10.5 a game, is fourth in blocked shots, sixth in field goal percentage and 13th in scoring. Fellow forward Leighah-Amori Wool is eighth in the league in rebounding.

Eastern pounded the Flashes on the boards Wednesday, outrebounding them 43-30. Western is third in the league in rebounding margin.

Watch whetherKent State is getting assists on baskets, a weakness through the last two seasons. And the Flashes need to get off to a good start. Wednesday they missed their first eight shots and trailed 19-9 after the first quarter.

Team comparisons

  • RPI: Kent State 130 of 351 Division I teams. Western Michigan 127.
  • Power rankings: Kent State 145. Western 114.
  • Kent State home record: 2-2. Western Michigan road record: 3-1.
  • Scoring average: KSU fourth in MAC at 71.4 per game. Western fifth at 71.3.
  • Defensive average: KSU eighth at 68.4. Western fourth at 64.6.
  • Field-goal percentage: KSU 39.1 (fifth on 3-pointers at 31.8%). Western ninth at 39.5 (12th at 26.5).
  • Field-goal defense: KSU 11th at 42.5 (last on 3s at 35.6%). Western fifth at 39.8 (second on 3s at 28.2).
  • Rebounding margin: KSU 10th at 1.8. Western third at +1.8.
  • Turnover margin: KSU third at +3.77. Western fourth at +3.31. KSU eighth in steals at 7.62. WMU third at 9.85.

Top players

Kent State

  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (13.9 points per game, 7.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks).
  • 5-7 senior guard Megan Carter (12.7 points, 86.4 free throw percentage).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (12.1 points, 41.3 three-point percentage, , fourth in 3-point percentage at 42.5, fourth in blocked shots at 1.3).
  • 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (11.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 1.5 steals).
  • 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (11.7 points, 3.8 assists, 1.9 steals).

Western Michigan 

  • 6-1 senior forward Breanna Mobley (13.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks).
  • 5-8 sophomore guard Jordan Walker (16.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.5 steals).
  • 6-0 junior forward Leighah-Amori Wool (12.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 82.6% free throws).

Following the game at home

Video stream on ESPN+ starts at game time at 1 p.m. Service costs $4.99 a month and includes about half of all MAC men’s and women’s games for all games. This link takes you to to the game, where you can sign up. David Wilson is the announcer.

Audio starts at about 12:45 p.m. on WHLO 640 and Golden Flash iHeart Radio.

Live statistics will be on the Kent State website during the game.

Links

Kent State website, with links to roster, statistics schedule and more.

Eastern Michigan website, with links.

MAC statistics.

MAC standings.

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