KSU leading scorer Nila Blackford had 14 points and eight rebounds against Ball State Friday. Twelve points came in the second half. (Photo by Nick Cammett from KSU Twitter feed.)
Kent State (4-3 and tied for 5th in MAC, 11-7 overall)
at Toledo (4-3 and tied for 5th, 9-9 overall)
Game is at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at Savage Arena at the University of Toledo. It’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive. Address is 2801 W. Bancroft Street, Toledo, if you need it for GPS.
General admission tickets are $15. You can spend up to $49 for reserved seats. They’re the most expensive tickets in the MAC, but Toledo has the highest attendance in the league, averaging about 3,700. The Rockets have led the MAC in attendance for 25 straight years. Kent State home attendance is seventh in conference games at 1,010.
What’s at stake
The teams are tied for fifth in the MAC, batting for the first-round bye in the conference tournament that goes to the schools with the top four records.
Toledo had one of the worst non-conference records in the league, but won four out of its first five MAC games. It has since lost two in a row, including a 77-62 loss at home Wednesday to Eastern Michigan. Three of Toledo’s four wins are against teams at the bottom of the MAC. The fourth was a home win over Buffalo, which beat KSU 57-44 last Saturday.
The Rockets have won 75% of their home games in coach Tricia Cullop’s 12 years in Toledo. But Kent State has won three in a row in Toledo — a regular-season win and a first-round tournament upset two years ago and a win last season. That is undoubtedly on Toledo’s bulletin board.
What to watch
Toledo doesn’t really have a star. Its best player is probably junior guard Nakiah Black, who averages 12 points a game. She is the only rocket to average in double figures. Senior Mariella Santucci is one of the best assist-oriented point-guard in the conference.
Kent State has senior guard Megan Carter back from mononucleosis but was missing starting point guard Asiah Dingle on Wednesday. Starkey wouldn’t talk about Dingle’s status after the game. She was in the stands, not on the bench, and wearing a protective boot. It is hard to figure out what all that meant.
After struggling against Buffalo last Saturday, freshmen Katie Shumate and Nila Blackford played better against Ball State. Lindsey Thall took only four shots, all 3-pointers, and made three of them.
Key thing to look for probably is how well those three are playing and whether the Flashes can get off to a decent start in the game.
The two teams are close in almost every statistical category. What difference will Toledo’s home court advantage make? If Dingle is still out, can KSU win a second straight without her?
All statistics are conference games only, which are more current and reflect similar competition.
- RPI: Kent State 103 of 351 Division I teams. Toledo 177. (RPI is based on a team’s record and schedule strength.)
- Power rankings: Kent State 104. Toledo 171. (Adds factors like margin of victory, record in recent games, injuries.)
- Kent State road record (all games): 4-2. Toledo home record: 5-4.
- Scoring average: KSU eighth in MAC at 68.0 points per game. Toledo seventh at 68.3.
- Defensive average: KSU third at 67.7. Toledo fourth at 68.1.
- Field-goal percentage: KSU 11th at 39.2 (fifth on 3-pointers at 31.9%). Toledo fifth at 41.7 (eighth on 3s at 31.3).
- Field-goal defense: KSU fourth at 39.1 (last on 3s at 41.8%). Toledo 10th at 43.0 (10th on 3s at 33.6).
- Free throw shooting: Kent State second at 72.3%. Toledo ninth at 66.7.
- Rebounding margin: KSU seventh at -2.1. Toledo sixth at -0.3.
- Turnover margin: KSU third at +1.3. Toledo sixth at -0.7. KSU sixth in steals at 7.3. Toledo seventh at 7.0.
- Assists: Kent State last at 10.3. Toledo third at 14.1.
- Blocked shots: Kent State second at 4.3. Toledo 11th at 1.7.
- 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (15.1 points, 7.0 rebounds per game).
- 5-6 senior grad Megan Carter (13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds).
- 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (12.0 points, 6.7 rebounds).
- 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (8.7 points, 1.9 three-point baskets a game, 33.3% three-point shooting, first in MAC in blocked shots at 2.6 per game).
- 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (13.5 points, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals). Her status is unclear for Saturday’s game.
- 5-10 junior guard Nakiah Black (12.0 points, 34.3% three-point shooting, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists.)
- 5-6 senior guard Mariella Santucci (8.8 points, 4.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds.)
- 5-9 freshman guard Quinesha Lockett (12.1 points, 1.7 assists.)
Following the game from home
Video stream on ESPN3 starts at game time at 2 p.m. It’s free if you have a subscription to ESPN on cable, satellite or on the ESPN app.
Audio starts at about 1:45 p.m. on WHLO 640 and Golden Flash iHeart Radio. David Wilson is the announcer.
Live statistics will be on the Toledo website during the game.
Kent State website, with links to roster, statistics, schedule and more.
Toledo website, with links.