College basketball games can start on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.
The NCAA Division I Council Wednesday approved the date for men’s and women’s basketball.
Games aren’t required to start then; it’s just the earliest teams can play.
Practice will start on Oct. 14, with 30 practices allowed before the season. Teams can up to 12 hours a week of strength and conditioning, team meetings, and team and individual drills between Sept. 21 and Oct. 13.
Women’s teams can schedule 23 regular-season games, plus one multiple-team event of up to four games. Without the multi-team even, they can schedule 25 games without a multiple-team event. Last season teams could play 27 games. Kent State played 29. Men’s team can play one more game.
“Teams tend to play an average of two games a week, so the fact we’re shortening the season necessitated the reduction in games so we’re trying to jam more in a shortened season,” said M. Grace Calhoun, Division I council chair and Penn athletic director.
The council recommended teams play at least four non-conference games.
Teams have to play a minimum of 13 games, seven fewer than previous years. Some schools have discussed playing a very abbreviated schedule to limit exposure to COVID-19 and for financial reasons.
Teams won’t be allowed to have preseason exhibition games or scrimmages. Kent State had two scrimmages against Division I opponents last season. In 2018, they had an exhibition against a Division II team and a scrimmage.
The later start is designed to limit athletes exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball committees had recommenced a Nov. 21 start. But the council decided on Nov. 25, when almost three-quarters of schools will finished on-campus classes.
Kent State is one of them. Classes and exams will be completely online after Thanksgiving. With classes online, student athletes can study from anywhere.
With many fewer students in town, athletes would be less likely to interact with others who might be infected.
The start date is three weeks later than the Kent State women’s team first game last season.
“The new season start date near the Thanksgiving holiday provides the optimal opportunity to successfully launch the season,” said Dan Gavitt, NCAA senior vice president of basketball, as quoted by ESPN. “It is a grand compromise of sorts that focuses on the health and safety of student-athletes.”
National media outlets have consistently reported that more multi-team events in an NBA-like “bubble” format are likely. In those, multiple teams — perhaps as many as 20 — could play at a single site with a controlled environment and heavy COVID testing.
ESPN has said it could host four such events at its Orlando site, where the NBA has played.
The later start leaves about five weeks for non-conference games.
Kent State likely will announce its non-conference schedules in the next few weeks. I’m sure KSU coaches already have had discussions with prospective opponents and tournaments.
MAC play for KSU’s women will start on Wednesday, Dec. 30, at Toledo. (Link to Kent women’s MAC schedule.) The Kent State men will open at Eastern Michigan on Saturday, Jan. 2. (KSU hasn’t posted its men’s MAC schedule, but the full MAC men’s schedule is here.)
The NCAA tournament is still set for 68 teams and 14 sites in March and April, although there has been unofficial discussion of consolidating the sites into “bubbles.”
No off-campus recruiting for rest of 2020
The D1 Council also extended the recruiting “dead period” through Jan. 1. There has been a dead period in place since March, with no official campus visits, no home visits by coaches, nor coaches’ going to AAU games or team practices during that time.
This extension that some coaches and high school players won’t be able to have face-to-face contact with coaches before students can formally commit to a school in the Nov. 11-18 early signing period. Nor will some coaches have ever seen some players in live competition.
Telephone and online contact is allowed. And many coaches saw players in AAU games when they were younger. Recruits also made unofficial visits in pre-COVID times.
“While the Council acknowledged and appreciates the growing desire to resume in-person recruiting,” Calhoun said. “council members ultimately concluded the primary concern right now must be protecting the current student-athletes on our campuses,”
Updated with revised date.
Circle the date: Nov. 21.
That’s could be the opening day of the 2020-21 basketball season.
Reports from several national outlets Monday said the NCAA Division I committee is poised to approve at that date, which is the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The council is scheduled to vote on the idea Wednesday. Here’s Monday story from cbssports.com.
The Nov. 21 date, four days earlier than an earlier proposal, is about two-and-a-half weeks later the first game in previous (pre-COVID-19) seasons. The delay allows schools to start games after most universities have emptied campuses for the fall.
As at many other schools, Kent State classes and exams will be completely online after Thanksgiving. With classes online, student athletes can study from anywhere.
With almost no other students in town, athletes would be less likely to interact with others who might be infected.
NCAA officials thought the earlier date could allow more multi-team events in an NBA-like “bubble” format, CBS reported. In those, multiple teams — perhaps as many as 20 — could play at a single site with a controlled environment and heavy COVID testing.
The later start leaves about five weeks for non-conference games.
Because of the uncertainly, Kent State hasn’t announced a non-conference schedule for either men’s or women’s basketball.
With the MAC going to a 20-game schedule (see below), the Flashes likely will have up to eight non-conference games. We’re likely to know a lot more in a few days.
All this, of course, assumes there is not another COVID-related shutdown of some kind.
The MAC schedule
Kent State starts the Mid-American Conference season at Toledo on Wednesday, Dec. 30.
The 20-game MAC season is up from 18 in past years. That’s a home-and-home series with all but two other teams.
There will be no divisions. The top eight teams will advance to the conference tournament in Cleveland in March. There will be no first-round tournament games on conferences sites.
The new conference schedule is designed to cut down on travel costs and virus exposure in commercial travel.
The schedule has no bye weeks. All teams play every Wednesday and Saturday for 10 weeks.
After the opener with Toledo, the Flashes play at Eastern Michigan on Saturday, Jan. 2. The team is likely to stay on the road. Toledo and Eastern are less than an hour apart, and KSU will still be on winter break.
Home opener is Wednesday, Jan. 6, against Northern Illinois, followed by a home game against Ball State on Saturday, Jan. 10.
The Ball State game is the only meeting of the season with the Cardinals, which finished second in the MAC last season. Kent State also play defending MAC champion Central Michigan only once. That game is Saturday, Feb. 13, in Mount Pleasant.
The Flashes end with a home game against Akron on Saturday, March 6. It will be the first time KSU has ended the regular season against the Zips since 2011. The league tournament will start the next Wednesday.
Kent State’s conference schedule
(Times to be announced)
- Wednesday, Dec. 30. At Toledo.
- Saturday, Jan. 2. At Eastern Michigan.
- Wednesday, Jan. 6. Northern Illinois.
- Saturday, Jan. 9. Ball State.
- Wednesday Jan. 13. At Akron.
- Saturday, Jan. 16. Western Michigan.
- Wednesday Jan. 20. Toledo.
- Saturday, Jan 23. At Northern Illinois.
- Wednesday Jan. 27. At Buffalo.
- Saturday, Jan 30. Eastern Michigan.
- Wednesday, Feb. 3. At Ohio.
- Saturday, Feb. 6. Miami
- Wednesday, Feb. 10. Bowling Green.
- Saturday, Feb. 13. At Central Michigan.
- Wednesday, Feb. 17. At Western Michigan.
- Saturday, Feb 20. Ohio.
- Wednesday, Feb. 24. Buffalo.
- Saturday, Feb. 27. At Miami.
- Wednesday, March 3. At Bowling Green.
- Saturday, March 6. Akron.
Asiah Dingle scored 785 points in her first two years, tied for fifth all-time for Kent State. (Photo by John Conley from KentWired.)
This post is more analysis than Thursday’s story about Asiah Dingle’s decision to transfer from Kent State women’s basketball team, which was a pretty straight report on the situation.
Asiah Dingle made a huge difference in her two years in a KSU uniform. She was the spark of coach Todd Starkey’s outstanding 2018 recruiting class. In her first year, she gave the Flashes a scoring threat at point guard we haven’t seen since Dawn Zerman, MAC player of the year in 2000.
I can’t imagine Kent State winning 20 games last season and 19 this year without her.
Her ability to drive the basketball changed Kent State’s offense. When the Flashes rallied in the second half to win their first-ever WNIT game last season, Green Bay had no answer. Her quick hands on defense could turn a game. At Akron this season, she had a steal and basket, then stole the inbounds pass and scored again in a sequence that changed the course of the game.
This season she came off the bench for her last 11 games and played the best basketball of her career. She made 54% of her shots in that time; in her freshman year, she made 37%. Her play was critical to Kent State’s late run that gave them a tie for the MAC East title and the third seed in the conference tournament.
Dingle announced Sunday that she would attend Stony Brook University on Long Island, which went 28-3 last season and won the American East Conference.
Only a technicality kept her from being the MAC’s sixth player of the year. To qualify, a player needs to start fewer than half of her team’s games. Dingle started 15 of the 28 games she played in. The winner of the award, Central Michigan’s Gabrielle Bird, averaged 8.6 points a game. Dingle averaged 13.3.
She averaged 12.8 points her freshman season. That was more than the freshman average of all but four of Kent State’s 1,000-point scorers, including Larissa Lurken, Jordan Korinek, Lindsay Shearer, Julie Studer and Dawn Zerman. Her 785 points tied Zerman for fifth in points scored in two years.
Dingle had her flaws. Her sometimes out-of-control play (“reckless turnovers,” Starkey said after one victory) could drive coaches and fans crazy. Fouls could keep her off the court for significant periods. According to analytics site HerHoopStats, she ranked 3,311 of 3,321 Division I players in fouls per game. She had very limited shooting range; She took only 20 three-point shots all season and made only two.
Starkey pushed Dingle hard to overcome those problems. I never saw a sign she resented that, but I’m not in the locker room, either.
Did she leave because she was unhappy at Kent State? The tweet announcing her transfer called her time her “an amazing two years,” and she thanked her coaches and teammates. That’s pretty standard stuff for transfer announcements.
I’m sure Dingle wasn’t happy when she was suspended for two games in early February. Starkey never said why; I heard much later that she missed a required team activity.
She never started after that. But the team was better for it. Before that time, the Flashes had gotten minimal points from their bench. Dingle gave them energy and production, and the team won eight of 11 games.
The way she played in that run was far from that of an unhappy player. Her attitude in postgame interviews was the same it had always been. She was never a particularly articulate interview, but she was fun to be around.
In an interview with Allen Moff of the Record-Courier, Starkey said Dingle was “trying to get closer to home, where she has family going through some significant health situations (not related to the coronavirus). I think that played a pretty big part in her decision.”
A source in Boston (Dingle’s hometown) said the same thing hours before I read Starkey’s statement. She does indeed have a close family member with major health problems, and Boston is 600 miles away, way too far away to easily go home for a quick visit.
I have no way of knowing how much her suspension or not starting had to do with her decision.
But my best guess is that the decision was at least as much family related as it was basketball related, and maybe a lot more.
Life without Dingle
The Flashes certainly will miss her. No team can lose a leading scorer with a unique style like Dingle’s without having to make adjustments.
The dynamics will be different. She was part of a cluster of players — her, senior guard Megan Carter, freshman wing Katie Shumate — who were very good at creating their own shots. And that’s a big reason why the Flashes were 295th in the country in assists.
More and better passing, I think, will help the team.
Mariah Modkins took over as starting point guard when Dingle moved to the bench. She is a calmer player, a better distributor and a better 3-point shooter. But most of the time, the Flashes were a better team with Dingle on the floor. Modkins averaged about 3.5 points in about 16 minutes per game. I’m glad Modkins is on the team, but I’m not sure she’s a full-time championship guard in Division I.
I think incoming freshman guard Casey Santoro will be very good, but you never know with freshmen. Sophomore Hannah Young scored 1,998 points in high school, but it took her almost a season and a half to find herself at Kent State.
Santoro, a four-time all-Ohio choice, averaged 25.2 points a game her senior year and scored more than 2,100 points in her career. Her high school statistics are quite similar to those of Miami’s Peyton Scott and Central Michigan’s Molly Davis. Both guards made the MAC all-freshman team this season.
Next year’s Kent State team is likely be more post-oriented than this year’s. Linsey Marchese, the team’s 6-4 transfer from Indiana, will be eligible. I’ve seen her in practice a number of times. She has the potential to quickly become one of the best centers in school history.
Dingle is the first front-line player to transfer in Starkey’s four years. Five players left over the last two years, but none were in line to play a major role on the team.
Her transfer is the most significant in the 30-odd years I’ve been following Kent State women’s basketball. The only other major loss I can remember is a guard named Jena Stutzman, who was one of the best 3-point shooters in school history. Unhappy with coach Bob Lindsay’s ultra-demanding style, she transferred to Ashland. There she led her team in scoring as it finished runner-up in the Division II NCAA Tournament in 2012.
In 2004, Andrea Csaszar, at 6-6 center the tallest player in Kent State history, chose to forgo a redshirt senior season to play professional basketball in Europe. It’s not quite the same as a transfer, but it was a big loss. Csaszar still holds the Kent State record for blocked shots in a game and a season and is second in career blocks..
Selfie celebration: Mariah Modkins captures the moment for her team after Kent State’s 72-66 win over Buffalo in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, a game that turned out to be the last of the Flashes’ season. That’s Asiah Dingle behind Modkins and Megan Carter in the lower right corner. (Photo by David Dermer for Kent State sports.)
I’ve been thinking for two days about what to say about the end of the basketball season.
I guess it just boils down to this: I’m really sad.
I agree with the cancellations. As many coaches have written, some things are more important than sports.
But I think about senior Megan Carter, who played her heart out through knee surgery, shoulder surgery, illness and academic struggles for five years at Kent State. I know how excited and determined she was about the MAC Tournament when I interviewed her last week.
I think about senior Sydney Brinlee, who didn’t get a chance to play in the last two games because she was sick.
I think about senior Ali Poole, who lost the start of her senior year to a knee injury in practice last summer, then lost the rest of it when she tore her ACL diving for a loose ball in January. She was on the bench every game after her surgery and got to help cut down the net when the Flashes clinched a tie for the MAC East championship.
From a purely basketball standpoint, I’m sad I didn’t see the Flashes make a run for the tournament trophy.
Everything was in place. The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds had lost. The No. 3 Flashes had just won their biggest game of the season and were playing the best basketball of their season, winning five out of their last six.
Of course, we’ll never know what might have been.
Everybody but Carter and Brinlee will be back next year. The team has some really good new players coming in. But Central Michigan and Buffalo and Ohio and Ball State have a lot back, too.
In any event, I’ll be happy to see the Flashes in the fall.
— Carl Schierhorn
The bracket after the quarterfinals.
Kent State’s women’s basketball team will get another chance to show it can beat Buffalo on Wednesday.
Buffalo beat Miami 87-72 in the first round of the MAC Tournament Monday. The Bulls had an overpowering 57-28 first-half lead. Miami played much better in the second half, at one point going on a 15-0 run. The rally kept three key Buffalo players on the court for more than 32 minutes. So Daisha Fair, Therese Onwuka and Hannah Hall won’t have had a huge amount of rest when they play their third game in five days against the Flashes.
Freshman guard Fair, the leading candidate for MAC freshman of the year, had 28 points for the Bulls, making 11-of-22 field goals. She had five steals and two assists. Senior guard Onwuka had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Buffalo’s starters made 51% of their shots; the team shot 48% overall.
“This team is really starting to hit its stride,” coach Felisha Legette-Jack said in the story posted on the Buffalo team website. “We’ve been working really hard to find our way. We are one of the youngest teams in the country but now we’ve turned into just a team that has stayed in our foxhole. I’m excited about the story we have to tell.”
The Flashes are the No. 3 seed in the tournament. Buffalo is No. 6 but has won six straight games. Kent State has won four of its last five with the loss coming at Buffalo on Saturday.
Kent State lost twice to Buffalo this season, 57-44 in Kent and 72-58 Saturday. The score of the game in Kent is a little misleading; the Flashes actually led by four points going into the fourth quarter. In Saturday’s game, Buffalo had to win in order to get a decent seed in the MAC Tournament. KSU’s status wasn’t going to chance no matter the outcome of the game.
Still, the Flashes have had a tough time with Bulls for many years. With its two best teams in school history, Buffalo knocked Kent State out of the tournament in the quarterfinals in the last two seasons. Both those Buffalo teams won at least one game in the NCAA tournament; the 2017-18 team reached the Sweet 16.
The game will be the last of the day on Wednesday, starting at about 8 p.m. The first of four Wednesday games starts at noon, and the next three start 30 minutes after the previous game ends. So the times are inexact.
It will be broadcast on ESPN+, WHLO radio and Golden Flash iHeart Radio.
The winner of the game will play the winner of the Ball State-Eastern Michigan game in the semifinals at about 1:30 p.m. Friday.
MAC women’s Tournament Central, with schedule and ticket information. Tickets are $10 for the entire four-game session on Wednesday.
How to buy tickets in the Kent State section. (It’s a little different this season.)
Student bus trips to the tournament (both women’s and men’s).
First-round results and quarterfinal pairings
- No. 9 seed Toledo (7-11, 13-17) 63, No. 8 Akron (8-10, 15-15) 59 at Akron.
Toledo will play No. 1 seed Central Michigan at noon Wednesday. Winner will play winner of Western Michigan-Ohio game at 11 a.m. Friday.
- No. 5 Western Michigan (10-8 MAC regular season, 18-12 overall) 84, No. 12 Bowling Green (3-15, 10-21) 67 at Western.
Western will play No. 4 seed Ohio (11-7, 18-11) at a half hour after Central-Toledo game ends, probably about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Winner of that game will play winner of Central Michigan-Toledo game at 11 a.m. Friday.
- No. 6 Eastern Michigan (9-9, 15-15) 76, Northern Illinois (7-11, 11-19) 69 at Eastern.
Eastern will play No. 2 Ball State (13-5, 21-9) at about 5 p.m. Wednesday. Winner of that game will play winner of Kent State-Buffalo at about 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Finals are at 11 a.m. Saturday.
All games are on ESPN+ except for the finals, which are on the CBS Sports Network.
Katie Shumate (14) led Flashes with career-high 27 points. Lindsey Thall (44) had a career-high 12 rebounds in 96-86 win over Bowling Green. (File photo by Liam Morrison from Stater/KentWired.)
Kent State’s women spotted Bowling Green a 19-point lead in the first quarter, then battled back to beat the Falcons 96-86 in double overtime Saturday.
The Flashes scored at the buzzer of the first overtime to tie the game, then scored the first 11 points in the second overtime.
The win ties Kent State for third place in the MAC with Ohio, which lost its third straight game, 63-62 to Buffalo. Kent plays the Bobcats Wednesday at the M.A.C. Center. Both teams are 10-6 with two games to go in the regular season. KSU is 17-10 overall.
Five KSU players scored at least 12 points, led by freshman guard Katie Shumate with a career-high 27. Megan Carter had 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Lindsey Thall scored 15 and had a career-high 12 rebounds, along with three 3-point baskets and two blocks. Asiah Dingle also had 15 and six steals. Hannah Young had 12 with two 3-pointers and four rebounds.
“We got punched in the mouth in the first quarter and then kept chipping away,” coach Todd Starkey said in postgame media interviews. “We weren’t making anything early and weren’t getting any offensive rebounds.”
“I didn’t yell them at the end of the first quarter,” Starkey said. “I didn’t yell at them at halftime. I just said, ‘Listen. This is something you’re going to have to make a decision on. There’s no easy way out. You’re going to have to fight the rest of the way to even have a chance.'”
The key play of game came at the end of the first overtime. Kent State inbounded the ball in in front of its bench, trailing 83-81 with four seconds left. The pass went to Katie Shumate about seven feet from the basket. She turned to drive, then saw Nila Blackford alone under the basket. Blackford made the shot, her only basket of the game.
— Kent State Women’s Basketball (@KentStWBB) February 29, 2020
“I’d like to say that exact action was what we drew up,” Starkey said. “But we wanted to get the ball into Katie and let her to make a play. She just made a great pass, and — you know — good players make good plays down the stretch.”
Shumate said she broke off her first option.
“I wasn’t open,” she told KSU radio broadcaster David Wilson. “So I posted up. Nila came open down low, and it’s perfect timing.”
On Shumate’s way to 27 points, which were three above her previous high, she made eight of her 15 shots, three-of-five 3-point attempts and eight-of-eight free throws. She had three assists and six rebounds in 45 minutes on the court.
Carter came close to her second straight double-double with 21 points and nine rebounds. She also had a career-high seven assists.
Dingle’s six steals match her career high. She set the tone for the second overtime when she stole the ball on Bowling Green’s first possession and drove the length of the court for a layup. “Those steals were huge,” Starkey said.
Thall’s 12 rebounds were three more than her previous high and eight above her season average. She also had three steals.
The six periods — counting the two overtimes — were almost like six different games.
First quarter: A truly ghastly start
Bowling Green made its first three shots and two free throws to take a 9-0 lead. It got as bad as 23-4 as BG made nine of 15 shots and three-of-four 3-pointers, all by Caterrion Thompson. Kent State struggled to three-of 21 shooting and missed all five of its 3-point attempts. It was 25-8 at the end of the quarter.
“You hate to start a game like that,” Shumate said. “We just had to move on and play the next play and not think about what just happened and just chip away, stick together as a team, not let us get down.”
Second quarter: Flipping the script
The Falcons pushed their lead back up to 33-14 with six minutes to go in the first half, but then Kent State found its game. The Flashes went on a 10-0 run and finished by outscoring BG 11-7. The Flashes made nine-of-14 shots and five-of-10 three-pointers. In the second quarter, Shumate had 12 points, Young eight and Carter seven. Halftime: 39-35.
“I think we just hit some shots,” Shumate said. “And our energy got back up, and we started playing harder and more connected.”
Third quarter: Taking the lead
Bowling Green scored the first four points to push its lead to nine. But two minutes later, Thall hit a 3, then hit another 3 a minute later. A minute after that, Carter hit a jumper to give KSU its first lead, 50-49. Thall then hit another 3 and Kent State led 55-51 at the end of the quarter. The Flashes made eight-of-15 shots and four-of-eight 3-pointers. Thall scored 12 points.
Fourth quarter: Down to the wire
The Falcons took the lead back at 60-59 with 5:28 to go, the Kent scored and the teams were within four points for the rest of the quarter. Kadie Hempfling had a jumper with 14 seconds to go to tie the game. Carter missed a jumper with a second to go. 72-72.
Overtime 1: Looking bleak
The teams were within two points of each other the entire quarter. Morgan McMillen hit one foul shot with four seconds to play but missed the second. KSU called timeout, advanced the ball to the front court, and Shumate and Blackford did their thing to extend the game another five minutes 83-83.
Overtime 2: All Kent State
After Carter started things with her steal and score, Kent State ran off nine points more in a row. Bowling Green turned the ball over four times and missed six of its seven shots in the quarter.
Welcome to March
“I’m excited for this young team and what they’ve put themselves in position to do,” Starkey said. “So now we have to erase Bowling Green on our whiteboard and write it Ohio and but focused on a very talented Ohio team.
“It’s the last day of February. Now it’s March madness, and we’ve ushered it in.”
Lindsey Thall had 19 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and two assists in KSU’s 61-47 win over Bowling Green. (Photo by KentWired’s Gina Schlegel.)
The Flashes made almost 46% of their shots and held Bowling Green to making 32% of theirs. That was more than enough for a victory and one of their best report cards of the season
Kent State 61, Bowling Green 47
Score 70 points on offense: 61. It was a surprisingly defensive-oriented game for two teams known more for scoring. Kent State also slowed the game down late to lessen the chances of a BG comeback. NOT ACHIEVED but with the big win, who cares?
Hold opponent under 70: 47. Kent’s best defense of the season except for against Division III Hiram. ACHIEVED IN A BIG WAY.
Make 40% of shots: 45.5. Among KSU’s best of the season. ACHIEVED.
Hold opponent under 40%: 31.8. Again Kent State’s best of the season against Division I opposition. Bowling Green’s worst shooting of the year. ACHIEVED IN A BIG WAY.
Outscore opponent by five on free throws: Fewest free throws of the season Flashes and their opponent combined. Kent State was five of seven, BG two of five. NOT ACHIEVED but irrelevant to results.
Outscore opponent by five points off turnovers: Bowling Green scored 13 off of KSU’s 18 turnovers. Kent State had 10 off of 14 from BG. In second half, when KSU outscored Falcons 34-19, points off turnovers went to Flashes 8-4.
Have 14 assists: 13 on 25 baskets. With that percentage and 45% shooting, we can count this ACHIEVED.
Get 10 points from the bench: 18 but mostly because Asiah Dingle didn’t start but still scored 16 points in 20 minutes. ACHIEVED with an asterisk.
BOTTOM LINE: Kent State’s shooting percentage and defense were good enough to give Flashes an A-.
Around the MAC
Ohio beat Eastern Michigan 75-65 at Eastern for the league’s only road win Wednesday night. Bobcats are in second place in MAC at 7-3 and have lost those three games by a total of four points. Kent State plays at Ohio Saturday.
The Bobcats never had consecutive turnovers in the game. Sophomore guard Erica Johnson had 20 points and 10 rebounds, junior forward Gabby Burris 19 points and junior guard Cece Hooks 16. Eastern was without three of its top players — leading scorers Areanna Combs and Aaliyah Stanley and leading rebounder Autumn Hudson. Combs was out with an injury. I found nothing about Hudson, who played Saturday against Akron, or Stanley, who has missed two straight games.
Central Michigan went 10-0 in the MAC with a 66-60 victory over Northern Illinois in Mt. Pleasant. It was one of CMU’s worst conference games; the Chippewas scored 13 points below their average, shot 37%, eight below their average, and were outrebounded 52-40. They still had enough to beat NIU, which is 2-7 and 11th in the league.
Miami won its third straight, scoring a season-high in beating Toledo 92-83 in Miami. Freshman guard Peyton Scott had her second straight career-high with 28 points. Lauren Dickerson had 23 and Savannah Kluesner 21. Toledo got a career-high 31 points from guard Mariella Santucci.
Akron, Ball State, Buffalo and Western Michigan all had midweek byes.
The ‘golf’ standings
Ohio was the only team to pick up points in the “golf” standings, which give a team -1 for a road win (a “birdie”) and adds a point for a home loss (a “bogey.” A home win or road loss gets zero (“par”).
- Central Michigan (10-0, 17-4)
- Ohio (7-3, 14-7)
- Ball State (6-3, 14-7)
- Kent State (5-4, 12-8)
- Toledo (5-4, 10-10)
- Eastern Michigan (5-5, 10-11)
- Buffalo (4-5, 13-7)
- Western Michigan (4-5, 11-9)
- Miami (4-6, 11-11)
- Akron (3-6, 10-10)
- Northern Illinois (2-7, 6-14)
- Bowling Green (1-8, 8-13)
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.
Kent State’s Katie Shumate defends against Toledo’s Arianne Wheeler. Shumate was wearing No. 21 instead of her usual No. 14. Wheeler led Toledo with a season-high 12 rebounds. (Photo from Toledo Twitter feed.)
Kent State’s women were ahead as the second half began in Toledo Saturday, but somehow it didn’t seem that way.
The Flashes came out sluggish and never found any offense in the second half. They fell to the Rockets 69-60 and dropped to 4-4 in the MAC, 11-8 overall.
“We played like we were down when we were up by three,” senior guard Megan Carter said. “We just came out flat and disconnected, and they took advantage.”
The Flashes were outscored 22-11 in the third quarter and made only 10 of 31 shots in the second half.
The win moves Toledo past Kent State into fourth place in the league at 5-3, 10-9 overall. The Flashes are tied for sixth.
“They obviously came out of the locker room at halftime with more fight and toughness than us,” coach Todd Starkey said. “I thought we were in a good spot mentally coming out second half. We took our foot off the gas just a little bit and that’s all Toledo needed to feel like they were going to win the game.”
The slowdown really started two minutes before halftime. The Flashes had pushed their lead to 31-24 on a 3-point basket by Mariah Modkins.
But Toledo hit two foul shots with 40 seconds to go, and Rocket guard Mariella Santucci scored on a fast break at the buzzer.
Toledo took the lead at the start of the second half, but it was still a one-point game with four minutes to go in the third quarter. But over those last four minutes, Toledo made six foul shots and hit another shot at the buzzer, this one a 3-point basket.
— Toledo Women’s Basketball (@ToledoWBB) February 1, 2020
That made the score 50-42, and Kent never challenged after that.
“Mentally tough teams overcome that type of thing and are able to fight back,” Starkey said. “I don’t think we handled that one at the end of the third quarter the way we should have. We looked down coming over to the bench.”
Foul shots were another big reason for the loss.
Toledo outscored Kent State 26-6 at the foul line, the biggest margin in Starkey’s four years at Kent State. The next biggest was 15, the next one below that 10. The Flashes have made more free throws than their opponents in 80 of 120 games Starkey has coached.
“It’s something we work on,“he said, carefully not criticizing the officiating. “It’s a discipline thing.”
All those foul shots also allowed Toledo time to set up a loose press through the second half. It didn’t force turnovers, but it delayed the Flashes as they moved the ball up the court.
“They were able to set up and slow us down,” Starkey said. “They really controlled the tempo of the game that way. It took us out of our rhythm.”
The lineup shuffle
Sophomore point guard Asiah Dingle missed her second straight game. In this pregame radio interview with David Wilson on Golden Flash iHeart Radio, Starkey called it “short-term suspension” and said he expected her back Monday. In his postgame interview, he sounded a little less certain about the date of her return. Dingle is KSU’s second-leading scorer.
Modkins started in Dingle’s place, hit two 3-pointer baskets and scored eight points in 34 minutes.
END 1Q | Kent State 17, Toledo 17
Megan Carter has 7 points off the bench, including shot clock-beating jumpers on consecutive possessions late in the quarter. pic.twitter.com/anoAO7MCVT
— Kent State Women’s Basketball (@KentStWBB) February 1, 2020
Carter came off the bench in her third game back from mononucleosis. She played 34 minutes and scored 12 points,
Freshman Katie Shumate didn’t start for only the second time this season. Some kind of mixup with her jersey had her wearing No. 21 instead of her usual No. 14. She didn’t play the first four minutes and only scored two points in the first half. She finished with 13 and three 3-pointers.
“Katie’s a player who has to be aggressive from start to finish, and she was a little passive early,” Starkey said.
Hannah Young made the second start of her career but didn’t score in 15 minutes. Clare Kelly also started; she had two points in five minutes.
- Kent State had 16-4 advantage in points off turnovers, but it was only 4-2 in the second half. The Flashes had only seven turnovers for the game, a season low. Toledo had 17.
- Nila Blackford led Kent State with 14 points and nine rebounds. She played just 25 minutes because of foul trouble.
- Lindsey Thall had nine points on four inside baskets, the most from close range I can remember. She didn’t have a 3-point basket for only the second time of the season and the sixth time of her 66-game career.
- Toledo outrebounded Kent State 42-24, but because the Rocketrs were spending most of the afternoon shooting foul shots, KSU didn’t have a chance for many rebounds. Toledo made only 19 baskets; Kent State had 24.
- Nakiah Black led Toledo with 22 points. Mariella Santucci had 20 .
Kent State returns to the M.A.C. Center on Wednesday to play last-place Bowling Green.
The view from Toledo
Coach Tricia Cullop, quoted in the Toledo Blade:
“In games past we’ve had good minutes, and then we labored in the fourth quarter. I thought today we stayed really focused.”
“We made our free throws and executed offensively better than we have been doing, and we got stops – all those little things you need to do to win. I’m really proud of this group, and (Kent State) is a really good team.”
“This is kind of that divisive time in the league where there is kind of a logjam in the middle. Any separation we can get will help when we get the pairings later on. You have to try to take care of your home court. That’s why that last one (a Wednesday home loss to Eastern Michigan) stung so bad, and that’s also why this one felt so good.”
Other MAC scores
Central Michigan finished a sweep of the first-half of the MAC schedule with its second-straight overtime victory. The Chippewas beat second-place Ohio 92-90 in Mt. Pleasant.
CMU is 9-0 in the MAC, 16-4 overall. Central has beaten Ohio twice — by a total of three points. On Wednesday Central won in overtime at Buffalo 98-93. Ohio is 6-3 in the MAC, tied for second overall and first in the East Division. Overall the Bobcats are 13-7.
- Northern Illinois (2-6 MAC, 6-12) 64, Buffalo (4-5, 13-7) 63 at NIU.
- Akron (3-6, 109-10) 88, Eastern Michigan (5-4, 10-10) 81 in overtime at Akron.
- Ball State (6-3, 14-7) 68, Western Michigan (4-4, 11-8) 65 at Ball State.
- Miami (2-6, 9-11) 80, Bowling Green (1-7, 8-12) 59 at BG.