Category: Uncategorized

Flashes’ good defense, Blackford’s 15 rebounds lead KSU past Akron 68-50

Dingle vs. Akron 2

Asiah Dingle drives for two of her 18 points against Akron. Dingle has averaged 15.6 points and 63% shooting over the last seven games. (Photo by Greta Bell from KSU Twitter feed.)

Kent State’s defense keeps getting better, freshman Nila Blackford returned with the team’s biggest rebounding game of the season, and the Flashes are alone in fourth place in the MAC again.

Kent State beat Akron 68-50, holding the Zips to 1-of-14 shooting in the fourth quarter and 30% shooting overall.

The win, combined with Eastern Michigan’s loss at Northern Illinois and Western Michigan’s loss at Central Michigan, leaves the Flashes in fourth at 9-6 with three games to go in the regular season. The team that finishes fourth gets a first round bye and goes directly to the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament in Cleveland next month.

Ohio lost its second straight, 82-68 at last-place Bowling Green. So Kent State is just a game behind the Bobcats in what suddenly is a race for third place. Ohio plays at Kent next Wednesday.

“Defensively it was a really good effort all the way around,” coach Todd Starkey said. “That’s a team that put up 79 points on Ohio three days ago. Here they get 50.

“Our team defense has gotten so much better than the beginning of the conference play, when we were really given up a lot of points. We really have worked on it every day.

“We’re starting to cover up for each other’s mistakes better. Early in the year if somebody made a mistake, they were kind of on their own and they’d score on it. Now we’re doing a better job of seeing where there’s a mistake or somebody needs help, and we’re getting to those spots a lot quicker.”

Blackford had 15 rebounds, seven points, three assists and a blocked shot in her first playing time in two weeks. She had missed three games with a concussion suffered in the last minute of the last game Kent State beat Akron.

“Fifteen rebounds,” Starkey said. “A phenomenal performance. (She was) really pursuing the ball and just being tough and gritty.”

Blackford made just two-of-12 shots; she had been making 41% of her shots before she was injured.

“She struggled with her timing on a few things, and you could tell her shot was off a little bit. But when you’ve been in concussion protocol for a couple of weeks, that’s the first thing that’s going to go.”

Blackford said it felt good to be back.

“I just was really aggressive toward the glass and wanted to do whatever I could to ensure that we got a win,” she said. “That was just snagging rebounds.”

Asiah Dingle continued her string of efficient shooting and scored 18 points. In the last seven games, she’s averaged 15.6 points and made 63% of her shots. A year ago, she was making 38%.

“Asiah has been finishing at the basket much better,” Starkey said. “It’s a focus thing really. She’s getting a lot of the same shots she was getting before but her focus….We always talk about finishing with your eyes. You’ve got pick a spot on a glass and finish it high.”

Dingle said that to her, finishing means being “locked into the game and not worry if I miss a shot or get scored on.”

Dingle also had five assists and seven rebounds, though Starkey grumped about that he would rather “live without some of those reckless turnovers on important possessions.” Dingle had five turnovers, which was her most in  five games.

Kent State led 36-26 at halftime, but Akron cut it to four in the middle of the third quarter. Kent called timeout, and Starkey made it clear he and his assistants were not pleased.

“We were like, ‘Listen, you’re taking your foot off the gas.‘ And then we got back to being deliberate defensively and really looking for our stuff on offense.”

In the fourth quarter, Akron couldn’t do anything offensively. The Zips missed all five of their 3-point shots and attacked the basket so aggressively, Starkey said, they were almost taking “reckless shots.”

Life with a concussion

In her postgame interview, Blackford explained what a concussion feels like:

“After I hit my head in the Akron game, I was really sensitive to noise and light. I was really dizzy, really fatigued and tired, had a headache.”

She said it took about a week and a half to feel better, though she was able to go to class much of the time.

Box score

Notes

  • The Flashes overwhelmed Akron 46-27 in rebounding, their biggest margin of the season against a Division I team. (They outrebounded Division III Hiram by 27.) Blackford’s 15 led the way, but Megan Carter and Dingle had seven, Lindsey Thall five and Hannah Young four. Kent State had 16 offensive rebounds, led by Blackford’s seven, and outscored Akron on second-chang\ce points 19-7.
  • Akron came into the came with slightly better rebounding statistics than KSU. Akron’s Haliegh Reinoehl was second in the MAC in rebounding at 9.6 a game. She had one rebound Wednesday.
  • Carter had four of Kent State’s five steals. Thall blocked three shots to maintain her No. 1 standing in the MAC.
  • Senior Sydney Brinlee had five points, one off her career high, on a 3-point basket and two free throws.
  • Akron’s Jordyn Dawson was the only Zip in double figures with 17 points and led her team with seven rebounds. She didn’t play in the first Kent State game (“coach’s decision,” which usually means disciplinary action). “She’s a really good player — very strong,” Blackford said. She guarded Dawson. Akron’s second leading scorer, much of the night.
  • The win is Kent State’s fifth in a row against the Zips and also breaks Akron’s three-game winning streak. Starkey is 7-1 against the Zips in his four years in Kent. The Flashes get a half-point in the Chrystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge for the win and now lead the competition 3.5-2.5. Akron has won it the last four years.
  • Akron’s 50 points were the second fewest Kent State has allowed in MAC play, fourth lowest this season.
  • Attendance was 1,729 and keeps Kent State on track for its best season in at least 30 years.

The Flashes travel to Bowling Green for a 2 p.m. Saturday game. KSU beat the Falcons 61-47 in Kent earlier this month but have lost two straight on the BG court.

Other MAC scores

  • Central Michigan (15-0 MAC 22-4 overall), 76, Western Michigan (8-7, 15-11) 60 at Central. The win clinches the regular season championship for Central.
  • Buffalo (6-9, 15-11) 88, Miami (4-11, 11-16) 72 at Buffalo.
  • Northern Illinois (5-10, 9-17) 65, Eastern Michigan (8-7, 13-13) 59 at NIU.
  • Ball State (11-4, 19-8) 66, Toledo (6-9, 11-15) 60 at Ball State.
  • Bowling Green (2-13, 9-18) 82, Ohio (10-5, 17-9) 68 at BG.

MAC standings

Akron-KSU round II: Zips have won 3 in row since Flashes beat them in Akron

Young vs. Miami

Hannah Young’s hair goes wild as she drives to the basket against Miami. Young has averaged six rebounds a game — third on the team — in her last six games. (File photo by Jeff Glidden from KSU Twitter feed.)

Akron (6-8 and tied for 7th in MAC. 13-12 overall)

at Kent State (8-6 and tied for 4th. 15-10 overall)

Game starts at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the M.A.C. Center.

General admission tickets are $5. Students get in free with a Kent State ID. KSU’s average home attendance is 1,870, third in the MAC and Kent State’s highest in decades.

What’s at stake

With four games to go in the regular season, every game becomes more important. The Kent State-Akron rivalry will make Wednesday’s game even more intense.

The Flashes remain tied for fourth in the MAC, the last spot that avoids a first-round game in the league tournament and gets a bye straight to the quarterfinals at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. (That’s what used to be called Quicken Loans Arena. It’s the same sponsoring company.)

The Flashes have a little bit of a schedule advantage over Eastern and Western Michigan, the teams they’re tied with. Both of those schools have to play first-place Central Michigan on the road. They also play each other, so somebody has to lose that one.

Kent State still has to play second-place Ohio in the M.A.C. Center next Wednesday. They play at Bowling Green, a team they beat 61-47 Feb. 5 but one they’ve lost to on the road two straight years. They finish at Buffalo, which outscored KSU by 16 in the fourth quarter to beat the Flashes 57-44 in Kent Jan. 25. Buffalo just broke a six-game losing streak at Bowling Green Saturday.

And there’s Akron.

Kent State beat the Zips 60-55 in Akron two weeks ago. It took a 7-2 run in the last two minutes to pull out the game.

Since then Akron has won three games in a row, beating second-place Ohio 79-76 Saturday and winning at Buffalo 69-63 and at Eastern Michigan 64-53 the week before.

It’s pretty clear the Zips are playing the best basketball of their season.

Biggest difference from the first KSU-Akron game will be the presence of Jordyn Dawson, the Zips’ second leading scorer. She didn’t play in the first game (“coach’s decision,” which usually means a suspension). In the three games since, Dawson has averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds. She had 20 and 14 rebounds against Ohio. Dawson is a 5-11 transfer from Wabash Junior College in Mt. Carmel, Illinois, the No. 1-ranked junior college last season.

Dawson is second to Akron senior forward Haliegh Reinoehl in scoring (13.3 points in MAC games) and rebounding (7.5) and leads the Zips in assists (3.1) and steals (1.6).

With a 6-8 record, Akron has a long-shot chance at the fourth seed. The Zips probably would have to win the rest of their games and hope for Kent, Eastern and Western to lose at least two.

It looks as if Nila Blackford, Kent State’s leading scorer and rebounder, could be back in the lineup Wednesday. In Akron, she hit her head hard on the floor in a scramble after a rebound and has missed all three games since. Blackford dressed for Saturday’s game against Miami and went through pregame drills. But she didn’t play.

“It looks favorable,” coach Todd Starkey told Allen Moff of the Record-Courier this week.  “It will be a game-time decision, but there’s a little better chance that she’ll play then there was last Saturday. She’s continued to progress nicely.”


REPORT CARD ON KSU’s 80-75 WIN OVER MIAMI: Flashes missed 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, but pulled game out thanks to senior Megan Carter’s first double-double of her career.


What to watch

I’d start with Dawson. If she’s scoring and rebounding at a good rate, Kent State will have to step up its game.

“We’re playing against one of the hottest teams in the league right now,” Starkey said in the Record-Courier interview. “Akron’s really coming into form. They’re defending well and playing with a level of experience and toughness that makes them really tough to beat.”

Statistically, the teams are very close. Kent State has a significant lead in turnover margin and blocked shots. Akron has more assists. Otherwise they are within one or two places of each other in every category.

The biggest different is that Kent State has won more close games — including the first Akron game. The Flashes are 3-3 in conference games decided by fewer five points or fewer. Akron is 1-5.

Team comparisons

All statistics are for conference games only, which are more current and reflect similar competition.

  • RPI: Kent State 103 of 351 Division I teams. Akron 152. (RPI is based on a team’s record and schedule strength.)
  • Power rankings: Kent State 114. Akron 153. (Adds factors like margin of victory, record in recent games, injuries.)
  • Kent State home record (MAC games): 5-2. Akron road record: 3-4.
  • Scoring average: KSU ninth in MAC at 67.1 points per game. Akron 10th at 66.4.
  • Defensive average: KSU second at 65.9. Akron fourth at 67.5.
  • Field-goal percentage: KSU 10th at 40.3 (10th on 3-pointers at 30.0%). Akron ninth at 40.8 (11th on 3s at 38.6%).
  • Field-goal defense: KSU third at 38.7 (last on 3s at 36.8%). Akron second at 38.4 (ninth on 3s at 30.2).
  • Free throw shooting: Kent State sixth at 68.1%. Akron fifth at 69.0.
  • Rebounding margin: KSU ninth at -2.3. Akron seventh at -1.3.
  • Turnover margin: KSU fourth at +1.7. Akron eighth at -1.45. KSU eighth in steals at 6.7, Akron ninth at 6.5.
  • Assists: Kent State 11th at 10.5. Akron seventh at 12.1.
  • Blocked shots: Kent State first at 4.4. Akron eighth at 1.8.

Top players

Kent State

  • 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (14.3 points, 51.2% on field goals, fourth in MAC; 2.0 steals per game, eighth in MAC; 2.6 assists).
  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (13.4 points, 7.7 rebounds).
  • 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (12.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, 45.4% on field goals).
  • 5-7 senior guard Megan Carter (11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (10.4 points, 1.7 three-point baskets a game, first in MAC in blocked shots at 2.6 per game).

Akron

  • 6-2 senior forward Haliegh Reinoehl (15.9 points per game, ninth in MAC; 9.6 rebounds, second in MAC).
  • 5-11 junior forward Jordyn Dawson (13.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.7 steals.)
  • 5-4 senior guard Shaunay Edmonds (9.9 points, 1.5 steals.)

Following the game from home

Video stream on ESPN+ starts at game time at 7 p.m. Service costs $4.99 a month and includes about half of all MAC men’s and women’s games. It will include all men’s and women’s MAC Tournament games except those broadcast on network TV. This link takes you to to the game, where you can sign up.

Audio starts at about 6:45 p.m. on WHLO 640 and Golden Flash iHeart Radio. David Wilson is the announcer.

Live statistics will be on the Kent State website during the game.

Links

Kent State website, with links to roster, statistics, schedule and more.

Akron website, with links.

MAC statistics.

MAC standings.

Statistics were as close as the game in KSU’s five-point win over Miami

MAC 2-22The benchmark statistics we use in the scorecard were as close as the game, which the Flashes won by five points. But they won, and with four games to go, that’s more important than any other number.


GAME STORY: Megan Carter’s double-double on Senior Day leads Flashes past Miami


Kent State 80, Miami 75

Score 70 points on offense: 80, only the second time hitting 80 in the conference season. ACHIEVED.

Hold opponent under 70: 75. Probably Kent State’s least-effective defense in the last month. Miami scored 25 points in the fourth quarter. NOT ACHIEVED.

Make 40% of shots: 39.3. Not quite. Four-for-18 three-point shooting made held the percentage down. NOT ACHIEVED.

Hold opponent under 40%: 36.8. Only first-place Central Michigan has shot better than 40% in Kent’s last six games. ACHIEVED.

Outscore opponent by five on free throws: It was 28-19, which looks great until we remember the Flashes missed 18 free throws, including 10 in the last quarter. Otherwise the game wouldn’t have been close. But, ACHIEVED.

Outscore opponent by five points off turnovers: 13-12 for Kent State. The Flashes had 10 turnovers, Miami 13. NOT ACHIEVED.

Have 14 assists: Nine, on 24 baskets. Megan Carter’s season-high five were the highlight.  (Miami, second in the league in assists, also had nine.) NOT ACHIEVED.

Get 10 points from the bench: 39, but it was Senior Day and only two of Kent State’s top five scorers started. ACHIEVED.

BOTTOM LINE: A win’s a win. B.

Kent State statistics

Around the MAC

Central Michigan beat Northern Illinois 70-66 on the road to clinch at least a share of the MAC regular season championship.

Second-place Ohio and Ball State both lost on the road and remain tied. Kent State, Western Michigan are still tied for fourth, the final position that gets a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament next month. Four games remain in the regular season.

Central won its eighth conference game by fewer than eight points to stay undefeated in the conference. The game was close most of the way. Central led by 10 with 6:12 to play, but NIU closed it to two with less than a minute to go. CMU hit five of six free throws in the last 53 seconds. Kyra Bussell had 25 for Central; Courtney Woods had 21 for Northern.

Akron won its biggest game of the season, coming from behind to beat Ohio 79-76 in Akron. A key play was a foul on Akron’s Jordyn Dawson with the scored tied and just over a minute to play. She was first charged with an offensive foul, but it was reversed on review. Dawson had 20 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Cierra Hooks had a school-record 41 points for Ohio.

Eastern Michigan beat Ball State 61-58, icing the game with two last-minute steals. Areanna Combs had 15 points and nine rebounds for Eastern; sophomore Juanita Agosto had nine points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Freshman guard Sydney Freeman led Ball State with 14 points.

Buffalo broke its six-game losing streak, its longest since 2012-13, with a 62-56 win at last-place Bowling Green. With 29 seconds to go, Buffalo leading by two and Ball State with the ball, sophomore guard Aireal Dickson stole the ball and fed Dyaisha Fair for a layup that clinched the game. Fair had 21 points for Buffalo. Madisen Parker had 14 for BG.

Western Michigan won its fourth straight game by beating  Toledo 70-58 in Toledo. It was Western’s first victory in Toledo in six years. Sophomore guard Jordan Walker had 21 points and five steals for Western. Freshman guard Sydney Shafer had a career-high 17 points off the bench. Freshman guard Quinesha Lockett had 17 points to lead Toledo.

BEST GAMES THIS SATURDAY: Western Michigan at Central Michigan. Toledo at Ball State. Akron at Kent State.

The ‘golf’ standings

They 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”).

-7

  • Central Michigan (14-0, 21-4)

-3

  • Ball State (10-6, 18-8)
  • Ohio (10-4, 17-8)

-1

  • Kent State (8-6, 15-10)
  • Western Michigan (8-6, 15-10)
  • Eastern Michigan (8-6, 13-12)

+1

  • Akron (6-8, 13-12)

+2

  • Buffalo (5-9, 14-11)
  • Toledo (6-8, 11-14)

+3

  • Miami (4-10, 11-15)
  • Northern Illinois (3-10, 7-17)

+6

  • Bowling Green (1-13, 8-18)

Regular MAC standings

MAC statistics

Carter’s first double-double helps Kent State past Miami 80-75 on Senior Day

Seniors ring the bell

Seniors Megan Carter (foreground), Sidney Brinlee (to her left) and Ali Poole (to Brinlee’s left) ring the victory bell to celebrate Kent State’s 80-75 win over Miami. (Photo by Jeff Glidden from team Twitter feed.)

Megan Carter saved one of her best games for her Senior Day.

Carter had the first double-double of her five-year career with 21 points and 10 rebounds as she led Kent State to a 80-75 win over Miami at the M.A.C. Center Saturday.

The victory keeps the Flashes in a fourth-place tie in the MAC with four games to go in the regular season. Kent State, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan all have 8-6 records. Fourth place earns a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament next month.

“A heckuva game, a really gutsy performance,” coach Todd Starkey said of Carter, who has played sick the entire conference season. She missed three games with mononucleosis.

“She’s battling,” Starkey said. “I don’t think you can recover from mono full strength in midseason. She’s probably not going to fully recover until she has two or three weeks of rest.”

Carter says it doesn’t matter.

“I want to empty the tank,” she said, “for the team, for myself. I want to have no regrets.”

Carter also had five assists and two steals.

The Flashes had to overcome 10 missed free throws in the fourth quarter and saw Miami take its lead of the game — 75-74 — with 1:15 to go.

But Lindsay Thall drove strongly to the basket on the next possession and drew a fifth foul from Miami freshman Peyton Scott. She made both free throws.

Miami didn’t score again.

Its senior star, 5-3 guard Lauren Dickerson, certainly tried. Dickerson had already made two 3s in the fourth quarter and scored 12 points to lead the Miami comeback.

As Starkey shouted, “No 3s,” Dickerson was hounded by Carter. Dickerson got off a shot from behind the arc, but it was an air ball. 15 seconds later, when Kent had a 78-75 lede, she got another off under pressure from Hannah Young and missed again. Dickerson missed a third at the buzzer when KSU had its 80-75 lead.

“That’s always a tough guard,” Carter said. “She can drive, shoot the 3, pull-ups.”

On Dickerson’s last 3-point attempts:

“I just wanted to get into her vision,” Carter said. “She’s 5-3, a small guard — just get in her way.” (Carter is all of 5-7.)

The Flashes, Starkey said, had no answer for Dickerson.

“We tried a couple of different thing,” he said. “But when she’s feeling it, she’s as tough a guard as there is in the conference.”

It did take Dickerson 33 shots to get her 29 points. She made 11, including five of 14 three-pointers. She also had four assists and a steal.

For Kent State, it was Carter, Thall (20 points), Katie Shumate (18 points) and Asiah Dingle (12) doing the most damage on the scoreboard.

 

Thall is best known as one of the conference’s top 3-point shooters, but 17 of her 20 points came on inside shots or fouls drawn inside.

“She’s starting to play in a lot of different areas than before,” Starkey said. “We’ve had to do that, especially with Nila out. It’s been nice to see her play some mid-range, she had a really nice finish at the basket for an ‘and one’ and had a couple of really nice dump-offs underneath, too.”

Thall has seemed more and more comfortable with the role.

“Having somebody on the inside helps our guards with spacing offensively,” she said. “We’ve gotten some good looks on the perimeter and inside.”

Miami chipped at at KSU’s 10-point lead as the Flashes missed its last two fouls shots of the third quarter and first six of the fourth quarter. Kent State would miss two of its next four before Thall sank the pair that gave her team the lead for the last time.

Even when they can barely walk, seniors start on Senior Day

Ali Poole shares a hug with coach Todd Starkey after playing the first eight seconds  of the game.

Carter, Sidney Brinlee and Ali Poole all started for the Flashes.

Poole is just a few weeks off of ACL surgery. She was hampered by a knee injury suffered in summer practice for the first half of the season, then tore her ACL diving for a ball in January. She had started 48 — now 49 — games for Kent State, and the Flashes have missed her scoring, court presence and leadership.

In an obvious pre-arrangement with Miami, Brinlee jumped the opening tipoff against the 5-3 Dickerson. She tapped it to Carter, who walked the ball over to Poole, who was standing wearing her knee brace just in front of the KSU bench. Carter handed her the ball, and Poole handed it to Starkey, who stood out of bounds. Many fans stood and applauded.

Both Carter and Poole graduated in December, though they’re still taking classes. They became classmates when Carter was redshirted after she blew out her own ACL early in her freshman year.

“I feel for her,” Carter said. “I tell her to keep her head up. She’s going off to P.A. (physician’s assistant) school, and I’m proud of what she’s done and what she’s doing.”

On Brinlee:

“She’s been a big presence, a very big voice. And great jokes. She’s always the life of the party.”

Thall on Carter:

“She leads so great by example. Every game she plays really hard. We’re going to hate to let her go.”

Box score

Video highlights

They include Senior Day ceremony, opening tip sequence, key Kent State scoring and Dickerson’s missed 3 in final seconds.

Notes

  • Officials called a total of 53 fouls — 32 on Miami, 21 on Kent State. The Flashes shot 46 free throws — highest of the season by 10. They made only 28 of them. Miami was 19 of 23. Two Miami starters fouled out, and three other players had four fouls. “I don’t think either coach was happy,” Starkey said.
  • Hannah Young had a career-high nine rebounds in a career-high 33 minutes. “She rebounds the ball like crazy in practice, and it’s showing up in games,” Carter said. Both teams had 41 rebounds.
  • Kent State made 24 of its 61 shots for 39% but only four of 18 three-pointers (22%). Miami shot 37% from the field and 32% from 3-point distance.
  • Attendance was 1,872, the third highest of the season. Last week’s doubleheader with Toledo drew 5,300, but only abut 2,500 stayed for the women’s game. Top attendance this season was 4,272 against Ohio State, which we think is the most in KSU history. Records from before 1990 are sketchy.

The Flashes stay at home to play Akron at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Zips upset second-place Ohio 79-76 at home Saturday and have won three in a row since losing to Kent State two weeks ago.

Other MAC scores

  • Eastern Michigan (8-6, 13-12) 61, Ball State (10-4, 18-8) 58 at Eastern.
  • Western Michigan (8-6, 15-10) 70, Toledo (6-8, 11-14) 58 at Toledo.
  • Akron (6-8, 13-12) 79, Ohio (10-4, 17-8) 76 at Akron.
  • Central Michigan (14-0, 21-4) 70, Northern Illinois (4-10, 8-17) 66 at NIU.
  • Buffalo (5-9, 14-11) 62, Bowling Green (1-13, 8-18) 56 at BG.

MAC standings

At Saturday’s Senior Day, Flashes will fight to hold on 4th place against Miami

Senior Day

KSU seniors (from left) Ali Poole, Megan Carter and Sydney Brinlee. (Graphic from KSU Twitter feed.)

Miami (4-9 and tied for 9th in MAC. 11-14 overall)

at Kent State (7-6 and tied for 4th. 14-10 overall)

Game starts at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22, at the M.A.C. Center.

It’s Senior Day for the Flashes, honoring Megan Carter, Ali Poole and Sydney Brinlee.

Carter has scored 1,079 points in her career, 20th in school history. Poole started 48 games for the Flashes, but partially tore her ACL last summer, then tore it completely against Western Michigan in January. She played only 68 minutes this season. Brinlee was a junior college transfer from Highland Community College in Kansas. She played in 26 of KSU’s 32 games last season of 20 of its 24 this year. She is one of the first two post player off the bench.

General admission tickets are $5.  Kent State’s average home attendance would be about 1,800, fourth in the MAC and Kent State’s highest in decades.

What’s at stake

Kent State is locked in a three-way tie for fourth place in the MAC with Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan. Toledo is just a game behind them, Akron two games. There are five games to go in the regular season.

Kent State can’t afford to lose at home and stay in contention, especially to a team it beat 78-75 at Miami.

Miami is tied for ninth in the MAC, a game out of eighth. A move up would be significant; eighth place is the last spot that gets a home game in the first round of the tournament.

When the teams met in January, Kent State led most of the game but trailed by a point with eight seconds to go. The Flashes stole two inbound passes and scored both times.

 


REPORT CARD ON KSU’s 71-58 LOSS TO CENTRAL MICHIGAN: Central dominated almost every statistic.


What to watch

Miami has two all-MAC seniors and a candidate for the league’s all-freshman team. But the Redhawks haven’t been able to jell under new coach DeUnna Hendrix.

They went 9-7 in conference play but beat only one team with a winning record. Miami started conference play 1-5, then won three in a row. Since then they’ve lost three in a row — to first-place Central Michigan and second-place Ohio, and in overtime at Northern Illinois.

Savannah Kleusner, a second-team all-MAC selection a year ago, leads Miami in scoring (17.9 points per game, eighth in the league)  and rebounding (8.5, fourth in the conference). Preseason all-MAC East selection Lauren Dickerson is ninth in the league in scoring at 17.7 pointer per game and leads the MAC in assists at 6.1 per game. (Statistics are for conference games only.)

Freshman Peyton Scott averages 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds assists per game. That’s fifth highest in the league among freshmen, behind Buffalo’s Dyaisha Fair, Central Michigan’s Molly Davis and Kent State’s Nila Blackford and Katie Shumate.

Miami has struggled defensively for the last four games, giving up an average of 88 points.

Kent State has played good defense for the month of February, allowing opponents to score more than 70 points only in Wednesday’s 71-58 loss to Central Michigan. The 75 points Miami scored against the Flashes in January were the most points they’ve given up in a MAC game.

Once again, a question hanging over the Flashes is the status of freshman forward Nila Blackford, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. Blackford has been in concussion protocol since a hard fall to the floor in the Akron game nine days ago. She’s being evaluated daily.

With Blackford out, point guard Asiah Dingle has been KSU’s leading scorer. She had 16 against CMU and 22 against Toledo last Saturday. She’s done it as the first person off the bench, averaging 16 points a game and 61% shooting in the five games since she came back from a two-game suspension. Her 53% shooting percentage is third in the MAC and highest among guards.

To tell how the game is going, look at defense. 

If KSU’s defense is close to the 61 points it’s allowed over the last five games, the Flashes should be all right.

If Miami’s defense gives up something close to the 84 points it’s given up in the last five games, things should be even better for Kent State.

Team comparisons

All statistics are for conference games only, which are more current and reflect similar competition.

  • RPI: Kent State 102 of 351 Division I teams. Miami 187. (RPI is based on a team’s record and schedule strength.)
  • Power rankings: Kent State 112. Miami 213. (Adds factors like margin of victory, record in recent games, injuries.)
  • Kent State home record (MAC games)4-2. Miami road record: 1-5.
  • Scoring average: KSU 11th in MAC at 66.1 points per game. Miami third at 72.6.
  • Defensive average: KSU first at 65.2. Miami 12th and last at 77.8.
  • Field-goal percentage: KSU 10th at 40.3 (ninth on 3-pointers at 30.3%). Miami sixth at 41.8 (11th on 3s at 38.6%).
  • Field-goal defense: KSU third at 38.9 (last on 3s at 36.8%). Miami lost at 47.8 (11th on 3s at 35.8).
  • Free throw shooting: Kent State fourth at 69.6%. Miami fifth at 68.6.
  • Rebounding margin: KSU ninth at -2.5. Miami 11th at -3.0.
  • Turnover margin: KSU fourth at +1.6. Miami third at +2.5. KSU sixth in steals at 6.7, Miami third at 8.3.
  • Assists: Kent State 11th at 10.6. Miami first at 14.5.
  • Blocked shots: Kent State first at 4.6. Miami third at 3.4.

Top players

Kent State

  • 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (14.4 points, 52.7% on field goals, third in MAC. 12.0 steals per game, sixth in MAC; 2.9 assists).
  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (13.4 points, 7.7 rebounds).
  • 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (12.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, 44.4%  shooting).
  • 5-7 senior guard Megan Carter (10.5 points, 3.4 rebounds).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (9.6 points, 1.9 three-point baskets a game, first in MAC in blocked shots at 2.7 per game).

Miami

  • 5-3 senior guard Lauren Dickerson (17.7 points, eighth in MAC; 6.1 assists, first; 1.4 steals).
  • 6-2 senior Savannah Kluesner (17.9 points, eighth; 8.5 rebounds, fourth; 1.7 blocks, third).
  • 5-8 freshman guard Peyton Scott (12.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists).

Following the game from home

Video stream on ESPN3 starts at game time at 1 p.m. It’s free if you have a subscription to ESPN on cable, satellite or on the ESPN app. David Wilson does play-by-play.

Audio starts at about 12:45 p.m. on WHLO 640 and Golden Flash iHeart Radio. Dan Griffin is the announcer.

Live statistics will be on the Kent State website during the game.

Links

Kent State website, with links to roster, statistics, schedule and more.

Miami website, with links.

MAC statistics.

MAC standings.

Central Michigan outplayed KSU in almost every category

Carter vs. BSU

Megan Carter had 14 points against Central Michigan, her first time in double figures in four games. (File photo by Nick Cammett from KSU Twitter feed.)

Kent State did about as poorly on its report card categories against Central Michigan as it did well against Toledo. The Flashes hit only one of eight benchmarks — they had 19 points fromm their bench. Against Toledo, they hit seven. Of course, a lot of that is the difference between 13-0 Central and 6-7 Toledo.


GAME STORY: After first quarter, KSU offense dries up against first-place CMU.


Central Michigan 71, Kent State 58

Score 70 points on offense: 58. Flashes had great start with25 points in first quarter, but didn’t score more than 12 in a quarter the rest of the game. NOT ACHIEVED.

Hold opponent under 70: 71. Nine points below CMUK’s average, but still above 70. NOT ACHIEVED.

Make 40% of shots: 34.6. Just 29 percent over last three quarters. NOT ACHIEVED.

Hold opponent under 40%: 50.0. Worst of the MAC season. (Central leads the MAC in shooting percentage.) NOT ACHIEVED.

Outscore opponent by five on free throws: Central made 9 of 11, Kent State 8 of 11. NOT ACHIEVED.

Outscore opponent by five points off turnovers: Kent State forced more turnovers (16-9). But teams were even at 12-12 in points off of them. NOT ACHIEVED.

Have 14 assists: Seven, tied for second lowest of season. (Central, second in the league in assists, had just eight.) NOT ACHIEVED.

Get 10 points from the bench: 19, led by 16 from Asiah Dingle. Her move to the first reserve into the game has made this category less meaningful. ACHIEVED.

BOTTOM LINE: Even considering the competition, a D+.

Kent State statistics

Around the MAC

Akron was the only team to win on the road and gain “golf” points. Western Michigan’s win and Kent State’s loss dropped the two teams into a tie with Eastern Michigan for fourth place in the regular standings. KSU and Eastern are tied for fourth in the “golf” standings.

Akron beat Buffalo 69-63, sending the Bulls to their sixth straight defeat. The last time Buffalo lost six in a row was 2012-13. A 7-1 run toward the end of the third quarter gave Buffalo a brief lead, but Akron finished the quarter with seven straight points, then outscored the Bulls 20-17 in the fourth quarter. Haliegh Reinoehl had 24 points and 13 rebounds for Akron; Jordan Dawson had 13 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Theresa Onwuka had 21 points and 12 rebounds for Buffalo.

Western Michigan led by as many as 17 points in beating Bowling Green 69-55. Breanna Mobley had 23 points and 13 rebounds for her 16th double-double of the season. Redshirt junior guard Caterrion Thompson had a career-high 23 off the bench for BG.

Ball State went to 7-0 at home with a 97-89 win over Northern Illinois. Oshlynn Brown had 28 points and 13 rebounds for the Cardinals, who had five players score in double figures. Courtney Brown led four players in double figures for NIU with 18 points.

Ohio went on a 28-1 run over 12 minutes in the third and fourth quarter and beat Toledo 86-58. OU’s Erica Johnson, the MAC’s leading scorer in conference games, had 31 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and four steals. Cece Hooks had 20 and fur steals. Tanaya Beachkam had 20 and 14 rebounds for Toledo.

BEST GAMES THIS SATURDAY: Ball State at Eastern Michigan. Western Michigan at Toledo.

The ‘golf’ standings

They 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”).

-6

  • Central Michigan (13-0, 20-4)

-3

  • Ball State (10-3, 18-7)
  • Ohio (10-3, 17-7)

-1

  • Kent State (7-6, 14-10)
  • Eastern Michigan (7-6, 12-12)

Even

  • Western Michigan (7-6, 14-10)
  • Toledo (6-7, 11-13)

+1

  • Akron (5-8, 12-12)

+2

  • Northern Illinois (3-9, 7-16)

+3

  • Buffalo (4-9, 13-11)
  • Miami (4-9, 11-14)

+5

  • Bowling Green (1-12, 8-17)

Regular MAC standings

MAC statistics

KSU’s offense slips backward, and Flashes fall to 1st-place CMU 71-58

Dingle drive v Toledo dks

Asiah Dingle had 16 points, near her average in the last five games, when she’s come off of the bench. She made six of 11 shots and continues to shoot about 60% in that time. (File photo by John Conley from KentWired.)

The Kent State offense that scored 87 points against Toledo Saturday looked just as good in the first quarter against Central Michigan Wednesday.

Then it vanished, and first-place Central Michigan went on to a 71-58 victory over the Flashes to stay unbeaten in the Mid-American Conference.

The Flashes made 50% of their shots in the first quarter and were tied 25-25 with CMU, which has the MAC’s best offense statistically.

Central is now 13-0 in the MAC, 20-4 on the season and has won 20 of its last 21 games. Kent State is 7-6 in league play and 14-10 overall. The Flashes are tied for fourth with Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan with five games to go in the conference season.

“We were missing a lot of shots,” coach Todd Starkey said in his postgame radio interview with David Wilson. “We weren’t finishing around the basket. I don’t think we were very tough around the basket to finish.

“You get an opportunity to hold a team like Central Michigan nine points under their season average, you have to be tough enough to keep coming at them and finish plays.”

Central Michigan coach Heather Oesterle saw Kent State’s struggles on offense as her team’s good defense.

“After that first quarter, our defense won us the game,” she said. “We played a little zone, tried to press a little, but in the end it was our man-to-man.”

Kent State made only 29% of its shots after the first quarter. It made one of 15 three-point attempts after making three of five in the first quarter. Central led by eight at halftime and by double digits through most of the second half.

“I thought we allowed missed shots to affect us way too much,” Starkey said. “We have to be more mentally tough than that. Sometimes young players think that their value as a player is based on whether they made or missed their last shot.”

Starkey said his team missed leading scorer and rebounder Nila Blackford, who missed her second straight game because of a concussion.

The Flashes were able to score without her Saturday because of good matchups for KSU’s other players, Starkey said.

“It worked favorable for us against Toledo,” the coach said. “But throughout the season, you want your most talented players available to play. We need Nila to be a complete team. She’s so strong around the basket, maybe we finish a lot of those closer baskets.”

CMU point guard Molly Davis, looking like a freshman-of-the-year candidate, scored 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting and had seven assists. She averages about 16 points a game in conference play.  Buffalo’s Dyaisha Fair, who seemed like the only possible candidate early in the season, averages 18, and her team has lost six straight games.

“(Davis) is a very talented player,” Starkey said. “We made her look really good tonight. We were undisciplined and tried to reach (for the ball) and not make her take tough shots. We’re trying to gamble for steals, and she did a really good job of getting by us and score a lot at the basket.”

CMU guard Micaela Kelly, the MAC’s leading candidate for player of the year, had 16 points and 11 rebounds. She had led the MAC in assists; she had zero against the Flashes. Kent also held Bowling Green’s Katie Hempfling, then the MAC leader, to zero assists.

The Flashes were led by sophomore guard Asiah Dingle, coming off the bench for the fifth straight game. Dingle had 16 points on six-of-11 shooting and had two steals.

Lindsey Thall had 14 points, eight in the first quarter, and blocked three shots. Megan Carter also had 14. along with three steals.

“As well as we’ve been playing lately, we played without composure and without mental toughness,” Starkey said. “Sometimes that happens with a young team on the road, but against a team like Central Michigan, the margin for error is so small.

“It was disappointing. But at the same time, nobody else has been able to (beat CMU) either.”

Box score

Notes

  • Central Michigan shot 50% from the field (28 for 56) for the game. In the first half, it was 60%. KSU was 23 of 66 for 35%.
  • Kent State had nine steals, its second highest in MAC play. That contributed to Central’s 16 turnovers. Kent State had 10. But the teams were 12-12 in points off turnovers.
  • Central had 42 rebounds to KSU’s 32, though much of that was due to Central getting a lot more chances for rebounds because of Kent’s 43 missing shots. Katie Shumate led the Flashes in rebound with seven.
  • Blackford didn’t travel with the team. Starkey said trainers evaluate her in concussion protocol daily but that it’s impossible to tell when she will return.
  • Freshman Clare Kelly played 13 minutes for Kent State, her most in six games. She had five points, her third highest of the season. Sophomore Annie Pavlansky played six minutes, tying her second most of MAC play.
  • The victory made Central the first team to clinch a first-round bye in the MAC Tournament next month. The Chippewas are closing in on their fourth-straight overall league championship and have won at least 20 games in nine of the last 10 seasons.
  • Central remains the only MAC team Starkey hasn’t beaten in his four years in Kent. CMU has won eight straight games against the Flashes, going back to 2013,  Kent State hasn’t won at Central since 2007.
  • Attendance was 1,817. Central is second to Toledo in attendance this season. (Toledo has been first for 25 years.)

Kent State plays at home Saturday afternoon against Miami, a team it beat on the road 78-75 in January. It will be Senior Day, honoring Carter, Ali Poole and Sydney Brinlee.

Other MAC scores

  • Ohio (10-3, 17-7) 86, Toledo (6-7, 11-13) 58 at Ohio.
  • Akron (5-8, 12-12) 69, Buffalo (4-9, 13-11) 63 at Buffalo.
  • Western Michigan (7-6, 14-10) 69, Bowling Green (1-12, 8-17) 55 at Western.
  • Ball State (10-3, 18-7) 97, Northern Illinois (4-9, 8-16) 89 at Ball State.

Eastern Michigan (7-6, 12-12) and Miami (4-9, 11-14) had byes.

MAC standings

A very tough task: Flashes travel to CMU, which hasn’t lost a MAC game

Shumate v Toledo dks

Katie Shumate had a career-high 24 points to lead Kent State in its 87-68 win over Toledo Saturday. (Photo by John Conley from KentWired.)

Kent State (7-5 and 4th in MAC. 14-9 overall)

at Central Michigan (12-0 and 19-4 overall)

Game starts at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 19, at McGuirk Arena at the John G. Kulhavi Events Center in Mount. Pleasant, Michigan.

It’s about a 4 1/2-hour drive. Address is 300 E. Broomfield Road Mount Pleasant, Michigan, if you need it for GPS. Here are directions from the Central Michigan website. and here is parking information.

Tickets are $10 to 12. Parking is $5. Average attendance for CMU’s women’s conference games has been 1,922, second in the MAC. Kent State home attendance is fourth in conference games at 1,870, but that is using the total attendance of 5,200 at Saturday’s doubleheader with the KSU men. There were probably about 3,000 left for the women’s game, which would make KSU’s average about 1,400. That still would be the best in in the 35 years I’ve followed the team.

What’s at stake

Central Michigan is 12-0 and at least three games ahead of everyone else in the Mid-American Conference. About the only thing at stake for the Chippewas is a perfect conference season.

A upset by Kent State would be a really big deal for the Flashes. It would mark them as a threat in the MAC Tournament next month, solidify their hold on fourth place in the league and give them a key tie-breaker in seeding in the tournament. First tie-breaker is head-to-head results; second is record against the best teams in the conference.

Is it possible?

“Sure,” KSU coach Todd Starkey said after his team’s 87-68 win over Toledo Saturday. “We can also be the next loss to them. They’re very good at home. We’re going to have to play our best game to beat them up there.”

Central’s record is terrific — and interesting. The Chippewas lost their first three games of the season — to consistently strong mid-majors Green Bay and Western Kentucky and No. 9 Louisville. Since then, they are 19-1, losing only to Central Florida, another good mid-major.

CMU’s RPI is 18th of 351 teams, extremely high for a MAC team this late in the season. But the highest RPI team the Chippewas have beaten is No. 46 Ohio, which they did by two points twice. Next highest is No. 51 Dayton.

Almost every MAC game CMU has played (and won) has been close. Eleven of its 12 wins have been by 12 points or fewer. Eight have been by seven or fewer. The Chippewas have had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win six league games.

Does that mean they’re vulnerable or know how to win? They certainly aren’t as dominant as they were as conference champions in 2018 and 2019, when they won a total of 22 MAC games by at least 10 points.

Kent State is coming off of its best win of the season, an 87-68 rout of Toledo Saturday at the M.A.C. Center. The 87 points were the most the Flashes have scored this season against a Division I team (they scored 92 against Division III Hiram).

No team has scored 70 points against KSU in a month. The Flashes held their three opponents before Toledo to an average of 55 points, though they only averaged 58 themselves.


REPORT CARD ON KSU’s WIN OVER TOLEDO: Flashes did most everything very well.


What to watch

Central has the league’s most productive offense, the league’s best player and two other players who average at least 14 points in MAC play.

The Chippewas have averaged 80.9 points a game in the MAC, three more than second-ranking Ohio.

Junior guard Micaela Kelly is second in the conference in scoring (21.0 points a game), seventh in rebounding (7.9), seventh in 3-point baskets per game (2.3), second in assists per game (6.0), eighth in steals (1.9) and third in minutes played per game (36.8).

Freshman point guard Molly Davis averages 15.6 points and has scored more than 20 six times. She’s fifth in the league in field-goal percentage (51.1), sixth in 3-point percentage and sixth in assists. 6-1 junior forward Kyra Bussell averages 14.1 points per game and is second in rebounding at 6.8.

Two other players — 6-foot senior forward Gabrielle Bird and guard Maddy Watters — have scored 20 points at least once this season.

The Chippewas shoot and make the most 3-point shots in the league. They average 10.4 three-point baskets per game, two ahead of second-ranking Ohio.

Kent State held Ohio to five of 21 three-pointers two weeks ago, but the Flashes are last in the conference in 3-point defense. In the last five games, however, they’ve been much better.

Central’s defense is as close to a weakness as it has. The Chippewas allow 72.1 points a game and are seventh in the conference in field goal defense at 41.2%. (They’re second in 3-point defense at 28.1.)

For Kent State, the key to the game is simply and hard:

The Flashes need to play their best on offense and defense.

And, Starkey told Allen Moff of the Record-Courier this week:

?We’ll need a little help (to win). If they shoot a high percentage, we won’t beat them. We’ve got to play our best transition defense of the season, and we’ll need them to miss some shots.”

It’s questionable whether Nila Blackford, Kent State’s leading scorer and rebounder, will be able to play against Central. She missed Saturday’s game with a concussion suffered in the Akron game last week. Starkey said her status depends on daily evaluations by trainers using the benchmarks of concussion protocol.

Without Blackford, Kent State still scored a lot of points Saturday. Freshman guard Katie Shumate had a career-high 24 Saturday and is ninth in the league in field goal percentage. Sophomore guard Asiah Dingle had 22 and six assists against Toledo. She has played some of the best basketball of her career since she returned from a two-game suspension four games ago. Dingle is third in the MAC with a 52.9% shooting percentage. That’s 15 points higher than it was a year ago.

Sophomore forward Lindsey Thall is among the MAC’s leaders in 3-point shooting, and sophomore guard Hannah Young, who started in Blackford’s place Saturday and scored 12 points, is placing her best basketball.

Team comparisons

All statistics are for conference games only, which are more current and reflect similar competition.

  • RPI: Kent State 104 of 351 Division I teams. Central Michigan 153. (RPI is based on a team’s record and schedule strength.)
  • Power rankings: Kent State 116. Central 19. (Adds factors like margin of victory, record in recent games, injuries.)
  • Kent State road record (MAC games)3-3. Central home record: 6-0.
  • Scoring average: KSU ninth in MAC at 66.8 points per game. Central first at 80.9.
  • Defensive average: KSU second at 64.7. Central ninth at 72.9.
  • Field-goal percentage: KSU ninth at 40.8 (seventh on 3-pointers at 31.5%). Central first at 45.7 (second on 3s at 34.1%).
  • Field-goal defense: KSU second at 38.0 (last on 3s at 36.9%). Central seventh at 41.2 (second on 3s at 28.1).
  • Free throw shooting: Kent State fifth at 69.4%. Central first at 75.6.
  • Rebounding margin: KSU seventh at -1.8. Central sixth at +1.3.
  • Turnover margin: KSU fourth at +1.2. Central ninth at -2.0. KSU seventh in steals at 6.5. Central sixth at 6.7.
  • Assists: Kent State 11th at 10.9. Central third at 14.2.
  • Blocked shots: Kent State first at 4.7. Central fifth at 3.1.

Top players

Kent State

  • 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (14.4 points, 52.8% on field goals, third in MAC. 12.0 steals per game, sixth in MAC, 2.9 assists).
  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (13.4 points, 7.7 rebounds).
  • 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (12.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 41.9% three-point shooting).
  • 5-7 senior guard Megan Carter (10.1 points, 3.6 rebounds).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (9.3 points, 1.8 three-point baskets a game, first in MAC in blocked shots at 2.7 per game).

Central Michigan

  • 5-6 junior guard Micaela Kelly (21.0 points per game, second in MAC, 7/9 rebounds, seventh; 2.3 three-point baskets per game, seventh; 6.0 assists, second).
  • 5-7 senior freshman guard Molly Davis (15.6 points, 51.5% on field goals, fifth in MAC; 39.5 on 3-point shots, sixth; 3.9 assists, sixth.)
  • 6-1 junior forward Kyra Bussell (14.1 points, 52.6 on field goals, fourth in MAC, 36.6% on 3-pointers; 6.8 rebounds.)
  • 6-foot senior forward Gabrielle Bird (11.4 points, 5.7 rebounds)

Following the game from home

Video stream on ESPN+ starts at game time at 7 p.m. Service costs $4.99 a month and includes about half of all MAC men’s and women’s games. It will include all men’s and women’s MAC Tournament games except those broadcast on network TV This link takes you to to the game, where you can sign up.

Audio starts at about 6:45 p.m. on WHLO 640 and Golden Flash iHeart Radio. David Wilson is the announcer.

Live statistics will be on the Central Michigan website during the game.

Links

Kent State website, with links to roster, statistics, schedule and more.

CMU website, with links.

MAC statistics.

MAC standings.

Flashes definitely brought their A game against Toledo

Toledo pregame huddle

Junior Monique Smith always greets the Kent State starters as they’re announced and leads  them when they huddle immediately afterwards. (Photo by David Dermer from team Twitter feed.)

Scoring 87 points and winning by 19 against a good MAC opponent is worth an A on any report card. Other numbers back that up: The Flashes met benchmarks in seven of eight categories for the first time this season.


GAME STORY: Flashes best offensive games moves it into fourth place in MAC.


Kent State 87, Toledo 68

Score 70 points on offense: 87. Tied for their most in four years in MAC play. ACHIEVED and then some.

Hold opponent under 70: 68. Not as good as recent games, but  ACHIEVED.

Make 40% of shots: 49.3. Second best in MAC play, third best of the season. ACHIEVED.

Hold opponent under 40%: 39.7, Close but still ACHIEVED.

Outscore opponent by five on free throws: The one benchmark not achieved. It was Toledo 13 out of 13, Kent 12 out of 15. Still far better than Toledo’s 26-6 margin the first time the teams played. NOTACHIEVED.

Outscore opponent by five points off turnovers: In a big, big way. Kent State 30, Toledo 4. ACHIEVED.

Have 14 assists: On the dot. 14 on 33 baskets, led by Asiah Dingle’s six.  ACHIEVED.

Get 10 points from the bench: A season-high 29, led by Dingl’e 22. ACHIEVED.

BOTTOM LINE: A clear A.

Kent State statistics

MAC 2-15Around the MAC

Akron, Ohio, Ball State and Western Michigan all won on the road.

Akron knocked off Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti 64-53 and knocked the Eagles out of fourth place in the regular standings. Kent State’s win over Toledo leaves it alone in fourth in regular standings and tied with Eastern in the “golf” standings, which emphasize winning on the road and not losing at home.

But Toledo, Eastern, Kent State and Western Michigan are all within a game of each other in the race for the last bye in the conference tournament.

Akron held Eastern to two of 16 shooting in the fourth quarter in its victory. Senior forward Haliegh Reinoehl had 13 points for the Zips, including the 1,000th of her career. Shaunay Edmunds, who scored her 1,000th in January, led Akron with 15 points. Areanna Combs had 23 for the Eagles.

Ball State sent Buffalo to its fifth straight defeat with a 69-58 win. Buffalo, picked as the third best MAC team in the preseason coaches’ poll, hasn’t lost five in a row since 2016. Sophomore guard Thelma Dis Agustdottir led Ball State with a career-high 26 points.

Ohio’s 84-70 win at Miami was its third victory in a row. Erica Johnson led five Bobcats in double figures with 23 points. Johnson leads the MAC in scoring in conference play at 21.4 points a game. Lauren Dickerson had 16 for Miami, which has lost three in a row after winning three in a row.

Central Michigan ran its unbeaten record to 12-0 with an 82-75 win over last-place Bowling Green at home. Central lost its first three games of the season to good opponents. Since then, the Chippewas are 19-1. Kyra Bussell hit five 3-point baskets and scored 23 points to lead CMU. Angela Perry had 19 points and 10 rebounds for BG.

Western Michigan got 18 points and 11 rebounds from Breanna Mobley and edged Northern Illinois 68-65 in DeKalb. The game saw five ties and six lead changes. Courtney Woods had 18 points for NIU.

BEST WEDNESDAY GAMES: Toledo at Ohio, Kent State at Central Michigan.

The ‘golf’ standings

They 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”).

-6

  • Central Michigan (12-0, 19-4)

-3

  • Ball State (9-3, 17-7)
  • Ohio (9-3, 16-7)

-1

  • Kent State (7-5, 14-9)
  • Eastern Michigan (7-6, 12-12)

Even

  • Western Michigan (6-6, 13-10)
  • Toledo (6-6, 11-12)

+2

  • Buffalo (4-8, 13-10)
  • Akron (4-8, 11-12)
  • Northern Illinois (3-8, 7-15)

+3

  • Miami (4-9, 11-14)

+5

  • Bowling Green (1-11, 8-16)

Regular MAC standings

MAC statistics

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