Kent State’s best offensive game sends it past Toledo 87-68 and into 4th place

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Hannah Young reaches for a rebound against Toledo. Young, a sophomore making only the third start of her career, led the team in rebounding with seven and had 12 points. (Photo by David Dermer for Kent State women’s basketball.)

Kent State’s second quarter wasn’t good, but the Flashes played nearly perfectly during the rest of its 87-68 rout of Toledo at the M.A.C. Center Saturday.

The Flashes scored their most points of the season against a Division I team. (They scored 92 against Division III Hiram.) The 87 points tied for the most points against a MAC team since a 98-97 loss to Northern Illinois in 2017.

The win moved Kent State into fourth place in the MAC. If the Flashes finished the season there, they would get a coveted first-round bye in the MAC Tournament next month. Toledo is a game behind KSU; Eastern Michigan, which lost at home to Akron Saturday, is a half game behind.

The Flashes are 14-9 overall.

The Flashes produced all their offense without leading scorer and rebounder Nila Blackford, who was out with a concussion. Four other KSU players scored in double figures.

“It’s kind of a crazy thing in sports psychology,” coach Todd Starkey said. “Sometimes teams play better with their best player out. For some reason, it kind of galvanizes people. It brings them together.

“It doesn’t mean Nila’s not an important part of what we’re doing moving forward. But it was a good game for it to happen. They play a lot of four-guard stuff. So we just went to four guards. The matchup was favorable.”

The Flashes ran to a 24-11 lead in the first quarter, then saw the Rockets outscore them 24-15 in the second. Toledo closed it to 41-40, but Kent State closed the third quarter on a 21-6 run, including the last 10 points of the period.

Look at Kent State’s numbers for the first, third and fourth quarters:

  • SHOOTING PERCENTAGE: 59% (26 of 44).
  • 3-POINT PERCENTAGE: 57%: (eight of 14).
  • FREE THROW PERCENTAGE: 93% (14 of 15).
  • POINTS OFF TURNOVERS: 26. (Toledo had two.)
  • POINTS IN THE PAINT: 34. (Toledo had 12.)

Was it Kent State’s best game of the season?

Freshman guard Katie Shumate: “All together, it’s one of our best. We had the fewest turnovers, we were moving the ball well. It’s hard to beat that.”

Sophomore guard Hannah Young: “I think we almost put four quarters together, and that’s been the goal for the whole season.”

Starkey didn’t like his team’s defense in the second quarter. Otherwise, “Offensively it was really good,” he said. “Defensively we weren’t quite as good as we’ve been in the last three games” when they allowed an average of only 55 points a game (and scored just 58).

Katie Shumate and her perfect 1st  quarter

Shumate, a freshman guard, made all seven of her first-quarter shots — two three-pointers, two layups, a jump shot and two foul shots. Asked if she had ever had a quarter when she hadn’t missed a shot, she laughed and said, “Not miss a shot? I think I always miss a shot.”

Shumate finished with a career-high 24 points, six rebounds, an assist and two blocked shots. She drew four fouls on Toledo players.

“It was good to see Katie set the tone,” Starkey said. “She’s hard to guard. She can shoot the 3, she can get to the basket, she’s got a nice pull-up game, she’s a good offensive rebounder. “With Katie, it’s just a matter of making sure she doesn’t disappear. Sometimes in the flow of the game, she steps back, and she needs to step forward right into the action. Like we’ve said all year, consistency is the most important thing.”

Asiah Dingle, the shooter

Dingle, a sophomore point guard, came off the bench for the fourth-straight game and continued to play some of her best basketball. She scored 18 of her 22 points in the second half, mostly on her trademark drives to the basket.

“She did some really nice things getting to the basket and getting down in transition,” Starkey said.

Dingle made eight of 13 shots — almost exactly on her 62% average over the last four games. She averaged 38% a year ago. She also made her second 3-point shot of the season. She’s taken 18.

Dingle also had six assists, equaling her career high against a Division I team, and only one turnover. 

Hannah Young, the third-time starter

Young, a sophomore guard, started just the third game of her career (in place of Blackford), led the team in rebounding with seven, scored 12 points, hit two 3-point shots and blocked a shot.

She was playing in front of most of her family, who made the 5 1/2-hour drive from Brookville, Virginia, in a trip planned long before they knew Young was going to start.

Young has been one of the first guards off the bench for her two seasons but averaged just 1.8 point a game last season and 2.8 this year. She has played an average of 20 minutes in conference games and averaged six points and six rebounds over the last four.

“She was a highly recruited player, and she’s very talented,” Starkey said. “Everybody’s timeline is a little bit different. It’s nice to see her starting to assert herself. She’s just been some confidence and game reps from having good things happen to her. She’s gotten better defensively. She’s rebounding the ball and letting her shot come to her instead of forcing it.”

Young knew the team needed her with Blackford out.

“Someone had to step up, and I felt like, ‘Why not me?’” she said. “I wanted to do my part and stay within the offense, and it worked out. Knowing Nila wasn’t here, I knew we needed to someone to pick up the rebounding role.”

On her increased playing time:

“It’s being more confident and knowing my role. I’ve been getting in the gym extra and working hard in practice. If I can do it in practice, why not in a game?

Lindsey Thall becomes the third of a kind

 

Thall, a sophomore forward, became just the third MAC player to get 100 3-point baskets and 100 blocked shots. The others did it in four years. Thall hasn’t finished her second.

Saturday she scored 13 points, making three of seven 3-point baskets and blocking three shots.

Thall leads the MAC in blocked shots by a substantial margin at 2.8 a game. She led the league last year, too, at 1.6 a game. Her 33% average on 3-pointers ranks ninth in conference games. In all games, she has shot at a 37.9% rate and is fourth in the MAC.

Turnover turnaround

Kent State struggled with turnovers over the last three games after being one of the league’s best for most of the season. Over the last three games, KSU had a minus-six turnover margin. But its performance Saturday was spectacular. The Flashes committed a season-low six turnovers. Toledo committed 19. Kent State outscored the Rockets off turnovers 30-4.

Box score

Notes

  • As it did Saturday, Kent State led Toledo by three points at halftime in Toledo two weeks ago. In that game, the Rockets outscored KSU 22-11 in the third quarter and went on to a 69-60 win. Saturday the Flashes outscored Toledo 26-13 in the third quarter. “We wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again,” Starkey said.
  • In their first game, Toledo outscored Kent at the foul line 26-6. Saturday it was still Toledo, but 13-12. Both teams shot free throws well. Toledo was 13 of 14, Kent State 12 of 15. The Flashes had made only 56% of their foul shots over the last four games.
  • In his pregame radio interview, Starkey said one of KSU’s strategies would be to try to force Toledo senior guard Mariella Santucci to guard without fouling. She couldn’t. Santucci spent 17 minutes on the bench with foul trouble and eventually fouled out. Santucci still led Toledo with 13 points, but she had averaged 20 over her last four games.
  • Starkey said Blackford was in concussion protocol, and there is no way to tell how long it would last. He said she was doing well, but wasn’t at the game because the noise of the game is not good for someone recovering from a concussion.
  • Senior Ali Poole is back on the team’s bench wearing a knee brace. She had surgery after a season-ending ACL tear in January.
  • All 11 players in uniform got in the game. Eight scored.
  • I estimated attendance at between 2,000 and 2,500, which would be second only to the Ohio State game the season. Official attendance was the same as the men’s game — 5,218. I promise they didn’t all stay.

Kent State’s next task is its toughest of the season. On Wednesday the team travels to first-place Central Michigan, which is 12-0 in the conference.

Other MAC scores

  • Akron (4-8, 11-12) 64, Eastern Michigan (7-6, 12-12) 53 at Eastern.
  • Central Michigan (12-0, 19-4) 82, Bowling Green (1-11, 8-16) 75 at Central.
  • Ohio (9-3, 16-7) 84, Miami (4-9, 11-14) 70 at Miami.
  • Ball State (9-3, 17-7) 69, Buffalo (4-8, 13-10) 58 at Buffalo.
  • Western Michigan (6-6, 13-10) 68, Northern Illinois (4-8, 8-15) 65 at NIU.

Video highlights

 

One comment

  1. goldenflash101

    Close to if not the best game of the year. Shumate and Young played as well as they ever have. Dingle made a three pointer and Thall scored on an inside move. What more can you ask for. They were a lot more aggressive than normal. Looked good.
    Felt sorry for Poole. I’m sure that’s not how she wanted to end her career. She looked really bored and depressed. Blackman might be out for awhile. I had a good angle on her fall and she really banged the floor. One of the worst I ever saw.

    Just heard today that the CMU gymnastics coach of 20+ years was fired last spring for telling his gymnasts to hide their concussion symptoms from the medical staff. Tell Starkey not to do that.

    Like

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