Mariah Modkins (5) and Asiah Dingle (3) combined to hold Bowling Green’s Madisen Parker to three shots and zero points. Parker had been the second-leading 3-point shooter in the country. (Photo by Nick Cammett from KSU Twitter feed.)
Kent State’s defense — not its strength for most of the season — looked championship caliber Wednesday.
The Flashes held Bowling Green, the second-best shooting team in the MAC, to 32% from the floor and 23% from 3-point distance in its 61-47 victory at the M.A.C. Center Wednesday. That’s:
- 11 percentage points below Bowling Green’s average in league play.
- BG’s second-lowest percentages of the season in both field goals and 3-point shooting.
- Seven percentage points better than Kent State’s defensive average and 19 percentage points below its 3-point defensive average.
- The lowest percentage a Division I opponent has shot against KSU this season, and second-lowest 3-point percentage.
Bowling Green’s 47 points was its lowest of the season. It’s the second fewest Kent State has allowed and the fewest scored against the Flashes by a Division I team. (Division III Hiram scored 36.)
The victory ended the Flashes’ first half of the MAC season at 5-4 and in a tie with Toledo for fourth place. They are 12-8 overall. Bowling Green is 1-8 in the MAC and 8-13 overall.
“Our defense was our backbone today, which was nice to see,” coach Todd Starkey said. “It hasn’t been a lot of the year.”
Bowling Green’s Madisen Parker went into the game making 47% of her 3-point attempts, second best in the country. She didn’t score. Kent State limited her to three shots, only one of them a 3-point attempt, in 32 minutes. KSU point guards Mariah Modkins and Asiah Dingle smothered Parker defensively. The plan, Starkey said, was:
“Crowd her on every catch. Make sure we have our hands over the ball.”
“Mariah was our first line of defense,” the coach said. “She had one of her best defensive games since she’s been here. When Asiah came in, she picked up right where Mariah left off.”
BG forward Angela Parker had been making 60% of her field-goal attempts, best in the conference. She made only four of 11 Wednesday. Lindsey Thall, Kent’s 6-2 sophomore forward, did much of the defense on Parker.
“I had to work every single possession, just banging it against her every time, not giving up anything easy,” Thall said.
Starkey said it was a two-part effort.
“We wanted to make sure we had great ball pressure so that they couldn’t make easy entry passes,” he said. “And we talked about with Lindsey about how she was just going to have to battle all game. She did a really good job of limiting Perry’s touches.”
Thall played one of her best games on offense and defense. She led the Flashes with 19 points, her most since scoring 32 against Ohio State in November. She had seven rebounds, her second highest of the season and blocked four shots, including two of Perry’s. She added two assists.
“She played 36 minutes,” Starkey said. “She really limited Perry’s looks. She had 19 points, seven rebounds. That’s a heck of a basketball game.”
Thall made three of six 3-point shots, which is her specialty. But she scored 10 of her points inside. She scored nine on close-in shots Saturday against Toledo.
“One of the things we’ve tried to do with Lindsey is to try to get her touches at different places on the court rather than just the 3-point line,” Starkey said. “Teams are dong a good job of defending her there, switching off guards on her. So we’re trying to get her touches in the paint so teams can’t do that.”
7:31 4Q | Kent State 52, BG 34
Mariah Modkins finds Lindsey Thall for an 18-point lead. Timeout BG. pic.twitter.com/BZinf0y2Z0
— Kent State Women’s Basketball (@KentStWBB) February 6, 2020
Dingle also played well on defense and offense. Back from a two-game suspension, she scored 16 points, had two assists and two steals. Dingle made seven of nine shots. That 78% is her best ever against a Division I team. (She made eight of nine against Hiram.) “She did a phenomenal job of finishing today,” Starkey said. “And at a really critical time, came up with a phenomenal offensive rebound on a scramble and stuck it back in.”
2:36 3Q | Kent State 43, BG 30
Asiah Dingle with back-to-back layups as the Flashes have largest lead of the night. pic.twitter.com/boTtettoSM
— Kent State Women’s Basketball (@KentStWBB) February 6, 2020
Dingle also had a spectacular defensive play when she knocked the ball away from the BG guard bringing the ball up court, then dove on the floor to push it away again. The BG player lay on the floor as officials called a turnover for not getting the ball across half court in 10 seconds.
“We let her loose,” Starkey said. “Every now and then, if she’s not in foul trouble and we have a favorable matchup, we’ll say, ‘Asiah, go get her.’ And her eyes light up.”
And as Starkey was talking, Dingle’s eyes lit up.
Cutting the turnovers, stepping up the defense
Kent State trailed 28-27 at halftime, mostly because BG scored nine points off of the 12 turnovers the Flashes committed in the first half. Kent State barely averages 14 turnovers per game and had just seven against Toledo.
“We really focused on that at halftime,” Starkey said. “We can’t have empty possessions. So the guards did a really good job in the second half of cleaning that up.”
Kent had six turnovers in the second half and outscored the Falcons 8-4 off turnovers.
Another thing the Flashes emphasized starting the second half strong.
“We had to make sure that we didn’t come out flat the way did against Toledo,” Starkey said.
The Flashes were the opposite of flat. They outscored Bowling Green 18-4 in the third quarter, holding BG to two of 17 shooting.
The view from Bowling Green
Coach Robyn Fralick, quoted on the team’s website:
“I thought our defensive effort was really good, especially in the first half. Our third quarter was where the game was lost, so we’ve got to figure out how to fix that and move forward.”
- Nila Blackford had a career-high 11 rebounds to lead Kent State to a 41-38 advantage. The Flashes did give up 12 offensive rebounds, something Starkey said had to be cleaned up in the second half of the season. But BG scored only two second-chance points.
- Reserve forward Monique Smith equaled her career high with six rebounds. She also blocked a shot.
- Kent State blocked nine shots overall, its high for the season. Besides Thall’s four, Katie Shumate blocked three. Shumate also had six rebounds and three assists.
- Modkins had four assists, five points and two steals. Dingle and Megan Carter also had two steals.
- Kent State outscored BG 15-4 on fast-break points.
- Attendance was announced at 1,961, highest of the MAC season and third highest of the season.
The Flashes play three of their next four games on the road, starting Saturday afternoon at second-place Ohio.
— Kent State Athletics (@KentStAthletics) February 6, 2020
Other MAC scores
- Miami (4-6, 11-11) 92, Toledo (5-4, 10-10) 83 at Miami.
- Central Michigan (10-0, 17-4) 66, Northern Illinois (2-7, 6-14) 60 at Central.
- Ohio (7-3, 14-7) 75, Eastern Michigan (5-5, 10-11) 65 at Eastern.
- Western Michigan, Ball State, Buffalo and Akron had midweek byes.