Kent State’s women may well get a chance for quick revenge for their 72-58 loss to Buffalo in Saturday’s regular season game.
The game meant nothing to the Flashes as far as MAC Tournament seedings go. Kent has the No. 3 seed and a bye to the quarterfinals Wednesday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.
But for Buffalo, it meant a No. 6 seed and a home game in the first round. If the Bulls had lost, they could have finished a low as ninth.
Instead, Buffalo plays 11th-seed Miami Monday. If the Bulls win, they will play Kent State in the last game of Wednesday’s quarterfinals. The game would probably start about 8 p.m.
“Buffalo had a lot more to fight for and wanted it more than we did,” coach Todd Starkey said in his postgame radio interview with David Wilson on Golden Flashes Radio. “That’s a tough mental thing to fight through with young players. But that’s no excuse for not battling and being as tough as we needed to be today.”
The Bulls destroyed Kent State inside and in rebounding. They outscored KSU 38-14 in the paint, had 23 second-chance points to Kent’s 15 and outrebounded the Flashes 47-34. Buffalo’s matchup zone gave Kent State big problems inside. The Flashes were nine of 32 on two-point baskets — 28%.
“The most disappointing stat of the game is (Buffalo’s) 18 offensive boards,” Starkey said. “I thought we got out-toughed today, and that’s how Buffalo plays. They played very physical and you have to match that physicality or you’re going to get beat up.
“So we’re going to have a short-term memory with this. This upcoming week is more important than this single game.
“Hopefully this will fire us up, fuel us a little bit. Sometimes coming off of a loss is a better thing going into a tournament because (players) listen to you a little bit more.”
Sophomore forward Lindsey Thall played one of the best games of her career, but no one else did much of any scoring for the Flashes.
Thall had 28 points — second highest in her two years. She made six-of-11 3-point shots — some from well over 25 feet. She made eight-of-16 shots overall, made six-of-seven foul shots, had nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
Next highest scorer was reserve guard Clare Kelly, who had seven points.
Four players besides Thall average in double figures for Kent State. They combined for a total of 12 points Saturday.
“Lindsey gave everything she had today,” Starkey said. “We just needed some other people to step up.
“We have not been good this year when we’ve had one or two players in double figures. When we’ve been really good, we’ve had four or five.”
Starkey said he limited the minutes of the team’s two leading scorers, freshman guard Katie Shumate (one point, three rebounds) and sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (five points). Both were recovering from minor injuries. Dingle did have five assists and four steals in 15 minutes.
No one but Thall played more than 26 minutes.
“We’re not going to read too much into this game,” Starkey said. “We’re going to move on, get ready for Wednesday and watch the first-round games on Monday.”
- Buffalo became the only team to sweep their two-game season series with KSU. The Bulls won in Kent 57-44 in January.
- Kent State is 3-17 against the Bulls since 2012 and haven’t won in Buffalo since 2011. Buffalo beat Kent State in the MAC quarterfinals in each of the last two seasons. Both of those teams had much better records and won games in the NCAA Tournament.
- The win was Buffalo’s fifth in a row. Before that, it lost six in a row. The loss breaks Kent State’s four-game winning streak.
- Kent State made nine-of-12 free throws in the first half but seven-of 15 in the second. Buffalo was 11 of 14.
- The Flashes didn’t make a basket in the first six minutes of the first quarter and the first six minutes of the third quarter. They outscored Buffalo only in the second quarter, 15-10.
- Buffalo senior Therese Onwuka scored her 1,000th point with four minutes to go on Senior Day. She finished 16 points, 12 in the first half.
- The Bulls’ Dyaisha Fair, the MAC’s top contender for freshman of the year, scored 21 of her 25 points in the second half. She took 17 shots in the half. She also had nine rebounds and four steals.
- All 12 Kent State players in uniform got into the game.
- Attendance was 2,698.
The view from Buffalo
Coach Felisha Legette-Jack, quote on the Buffalo team website:
“What a great team win. What a great story that we are telling. This is a team that decided that they are going to be the ones to determine the end of their story, and they just weren’t ready to have that be today.
“Our success today came on the back of Theresa Onwuka. She demonstrated that she is the leader of our defense. We made some really great stops and e held another team to under 59 points. That’s really cool.”
MAC scores and seedings
FIRST SEED: Central Michigan (16-2 in MAC, 23-6 overall), which came from behind in the fourth quarter at home. to beat Eastern Michigan 76-69.
SECOND SEED: Ball State (13-5, 21-9), which beat Western Michigan on the road in overtime.
THIRD SEED: Kent State (11-7, 18-11). Flashes got the third seed ahead of Ohio because they had a better Eastern Division record.
FOURTH SEED: Ohio (11-7, 18-11), which routed Miami 92-78 in Athens.
FIFTH SEED: Western Michigan (10-8, 17-12). Its loss to Ball State means the Broncos will play first round game at home Monday against Bowling Green. The teams split in the regular season.
SIXTH SEED: Buffalo (9-9, 18-11). Bulls are hottest team in league going into the tournament. They’ve won five in a row. The only other winning streak in the conference is just two games, belonging to Northern Illinois. Buffalo will play Miami Monday. The Bulls swept the regular season series with the Redhawks.
SEVENTH SEED: Eastern Michigan (9-9, 14-15). Loss to Central sent them into a tie with Buffalo, who had the tie-breaker because it beat the Eagles in their only meeting. EMU will host Northern Illinois Monday. The teams split in the regular season.
EIGHTH SEED: Akron (8-10, 15-14). The Zips beat Bowling Green 70-61 in Akron to get the last spot for a home game in the tournament first round. Akron will play Toledo, which won the only meeting between the two teams in the regular season.
NINTH SEED: Toledo (7-11, 12-17). The Rockets lost 86-79 at home to Northern Illinois to lose their chance for a home game Monday. They did win their only game with Akron, their Monday opponent.
TENTH SEED: Northern Illinois (7-11, 11-18). The Huskies lost the tie-breaker with Toledo because the teams split and Toledo had beaten first-place Central Michigan. NIU will play at Eastern Michigan. The teams split this season.
11TH SEED: Miami (4-14, 11-19). Miami’s loss to Ohio means the Redhawks end the regular season on an eight-game losing streak. Miami will play Monday at Buffalo, a team it lost to twice.
12TH SEED: Bowling Green (3-15, 10-20). Falcons did win one more than they did last season and had a lot of close losses. They play Monday at Western Michigan, one of the three teams it beat this season. Western and BG split their two games.
MAC women’s Tournament Central, with schedule and ticket information.