Freshman Katie Shumate had a career-best 20 points against Western Michigan, along with eight rebounds.
In winning their first Mid-American Conference game of the season, the Kent State women:
- Found the energy they didn’t have in a disappointing loss to Eastern Michigan earlier in the week.
- Got the best performance of the year from the team’s bench.
- Got a great night from from freshman Katie Shumate, who scored a career-high 20 points, made four 3-point baskets and led the team with eight rebounds.
It added up to a 75-63 win over Western Michigan, a team had won seven of eight games coming into the game, including its first two in the MAC.
Kent State is 1-2 in the league and 8-6 overall.
“We kind of laid an egg the other day in the first two quarters, and that wasn’t who we want to be,” coach Todd Starkey said. “I thought it was a much better effort. We fought from start to finish.”
The Flashes took a 19-12 lead after the first quarter and never trailed after that. On Wednesday, they missed their first eight shots and were behind 19-9 after a quarter.
“Everybody in the locker room decided that we’re going to come out with defense, and whatever happened, we were still going to have energy,” said backup point guard Mariah Modkins, who had six points and four assists. “The difference between today the other game was we didn’t get down on ourselves early.”
Starkey said Wednesday’s missed shots affected the team’s energy.
Saturday, he sad, “we missed baskets and still came down and did a really good job of defending.”
Modkins and Hannah Young led a bench attack that gave KSU to a 15-6 advantage over Western Michigan. In the middle of the fourth quarter, it was 15-0. It also was the first time this season Kent State’s reserves had outscored the opposition, except for the game against Division III Hiram.
“We have very capable players on the bench,” Starkey said, “but I think some of them get in their heads a little bit and aren’t quite ready to go in mentally. Today we talked about really being verbal on the bench so that your mind is engaged and that when you go in, you’re really prepared.”
Young had seven points, two rebounds and two blocked shots in 17 minutes. When she was on the court, the Flashes outscored Western by 21 points. “She came in and brought energy and made some really timely, big plays,” Starkey said.
He said Modkins was a great complement to starting point guard Asiah Dingle.
“Mariah a lot of times is a calming force out there,” Starkey said. “Asiah lays her ears back and and goes a hundred miles an hour. That’s hard to defend.
“But also ball control is hard to defend when we need that. It’s really nice to have both options. I thought Mariah did a good job of staying within herself and taking good shots most of the time.”
Junior forward Monique Smith played a career-high 19 minutes and had four rebounds, a basket and a steal. “The stat line doesn’t show how hard she worked, but she’s in there trying to defend a really tough post player (all-MAC forward Breanna Mobley),” Starkey said.
Eight Flashes played at least 16 minutes, the first time this season (other than the Hiram game) that that has happened.
The bench was especially needed because senior guard Megan Carter, the team’s only upperclass starter and second-leading scorer, didn’t play. Starkey said she had been fighting an upper-respiratory infection for a month and it was unclear when she could get back in the lineup.
Star of the game for Kent was Shumate, who played 36 minutes (about her average, which is fourth highest in the MAC).
“I’ve been going through a little bit of a funk, but just time with my teammates and playing off of them and with them helps,” Shumate said. “And I think staying in our heads. If you make a mistake, do the next right thing.”
Starkey said she played a great game.
“I just told her, ‘Don’t think the game, just stay aggressive, and we’ll live with whatever mistakes you make,” the coach said.
Dingle had 17 points, eight on first-quarter drives that had Western back on its heels. For the game, she had four assists and no turnovers and drew eight fouls. “Fouls drawn is a big statistic that people don’t usually notice and eight fouls drawn is a big statistic for her,” Starkey said. “You put the other team in jeopardy.”
The Flashes led Western 43-27 at halftime. Leading scorer Nila Blackford had just two points. Third-leading scorer Lindsey Thall had zero. Carter wasn’t playing.
What would Starkey have thought if someone had told him his team would be 16 points ahead without the three scoring?
“It would have been like, ‘You’re probably a little crazy,” he said. “But at the same time, that’s what we’ve been talking about (with the players). You have to prepare every day for when your opportunity comes up.”
At halftime, Starkey said, the team agreed the first half “was fun.”
“How much more fun is it to play that way with energy and looking for each other” to set up plays, the coach asked them.
But he warned the team that Western Michigan was “going to be coming, and they’re going to be relentless. You have to answer that.”
The Broncos definitely came on in the third quarter. They made nine-of-14 shots and outscored KSU 28-14.
But in the fourth quarter, Kent State outscored Western 20-12, holding it to four-of-17 shooting.
- Western had been leading the MAC in scoring defense at 60 points a game. KSU scored 15 more than that.
- Kent State outscored Western off turnovers (17-7), on second-chance points (10-8) and on fast breaks (16-9). It outrebounded the Broncos, the fourth-best rebounding team in the conference, 45-41.
- Thall had six points and just one basket, but that 3-pointer was the 100th of her career. She’s seven away from 10th on KSU’s all-time list, and Thall isn’t halfway through her sophomore season. She also blocked two shots Saturday.
- Blackford had seven points and all seven of her rebounds in the second half. She also had two assists, a steal and a block.
- Freshman Clare Kelly started in place of Carter and had her best game against a Division I team. She made two-of-five 3-pointers, scored eight points, had three rebounds and two steals.
- Attendance was 1,052.
The Flashes are on the road next week, playing at Northern Illinois on Wednesday and Miami Saturday.
Other MAC scores
- Ball State (3-0 MAC, 11-4 overall) 59, Eastern Michigan (2-1, 7-7) 54 at Ball State.
- Ohio (2-1, 9-5) 76, Buffalo (1-2, 10-4) 65 at Buffalo.
- Akron (1-2, 8-6) 76, Bowling Green (0-3, 7-8) 73 at BG.
- Toledo (2-1, 7-7) 63, Northern Illinois (0-3, 4-10) at NIU.
- Central Michigan (3-0, 10-4) 76, Miami (1-2, 8-7) 70 at Central.