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A sad end to a great end-of-season run, especially for Kent State seniors

Selfie celebration Dermer

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.

Flashes’ tournament win avenges multiple losses to Buffalo.

Shumate, Blackford make all-freshman team, Thall earns all-defensive honors.

Photos, video and words from the team

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

At season’s end, pictures, videos and words from the Flashes on Twitter

Video highlights from Wednesday’s quarterfinals

If you haven’t seen them, here are nice video highlights from the Buffalo quarterfinal game.

Twitter messages from the team


MAC cancels all sports for rest of school year; all NCAA championship, including basketball tournaments, are off amid coronavirus outbreak

All sports are done for the year for Mid-American Conference schools.

It probably will be true for the rest of the country by tomorrow.

The Big Ten canceled all sports at mid-afternoon. The MAC announcement came at about 6 p.m.

The NCAA announced it was canceling all championships for the winter and spring, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments due to start next week.

All of the cancellations are designed to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, its official name.

“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” the NCAA said in a statement.

Developing ESPN story.

A really good analysis of the situation by ESPN.

The MAC statement canceling all competition said the decision was made by Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher in consultation with the MAC Council of Presidents and Council of Directors of Athletics.

Key points of the statement:

  • Cancellation of  regular season and championship contention for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.
  • Suspension of formal and organized practices until further notice.
  • Suspension of off-campus recruiting and official and unofficial recruiting visits. Recruiting can only be done by letters, emails, text messages and phone calls, following NCAA regulations.

Kent State Athletic Director Joel Nielsen issued a statement agreeing with the MAC’s decision.

“We will continue to provide all necessary resources for our student athletes, coaches and staff during this difficult time,” the statement said. “This includes academic support to our student athletes as the campus transitions to remote instruction.

“Our main priority is the health, well-being and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff as we continue to monitor the coronavirus.”

The MAC basketball tournaments were canceled at noon, even as Ohio and Toledo men’s teams were warming up for a 1 p.m. quarterfinal game.

“It is incredibly disappointing in terms of the kids having a chance to compete further because I know this is a pinnacle event,” MAC commission John Steinbrecher said at a press conference canceling the tournament. “But simply from a public health standpoint, this seems the appropriate course of action.”

Transcript of MAC commissioner’s press conference on tournaments.

Developments cascaded through afternoon, with announcements from the NCAA, the MAC and other conferences.

The women’s quarterfinals Wednesday were played in a nearly empty Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The MAC had been among the first league to bar most tournament spectators to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus

But Wednesday events, especially the NBA’s postponement of its season, changed things. Power Five Conferences had canceled their tournaments by this morning.

The NCAA Tournament makes more than a billion dollars a year (yes, $1 billion) from television rights. Much of that is shared with individual schools.

The WNIT and NIT, the major tournaments for teams that don’t make the NCAA, were canceled. The MAC always placed multiple teams in them. Both Kent State teams would have been candidates this season if they didn’t win the MAC Tournament.

Steinbrecher, the MAC commission, said one of the factor’s in the league decision was that two Utah Jazz players, recently diagnosed with COVID-19, had played in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse last week. He and Len Komoroski, the chief executive of the Cleveland Cavaliers, said they thought there was little chance MAC players could have caught the virus because the Utah game was more than a week ago. The arena has been repeatedly sanitized since then.

The Kent State women’s story

Flashes’ tournament win avenges multiple losses to Buffalo.

Shumate, Blackford make all-freshman team, Thall earns all-defensive honors.

The tournament cancellation is very sad for the Kent State women.

The Flashes just won their first quarterfinal game in 10 years, a 72-66 win over Buffalo Wednesday night.

They were the No. 3 seed in the tournament and could have been considered the favorite to win the championship. No. 1 seed Central Michigan and No. 2 seed Ball State both were upset in Wednesday’s play.

KSU senior Megan Carter, who scored 12 points in what may have been her last game Wednesday, tweeted today:

And minutes later came another Carter tweet:

Junior forward Monique Smith tweeted:

I plan another post on Wednesday’s game and the season later today or tomorrow.

On to the semifinals! Flashes finally beat Buffalo and advance in MAC Tournament

Modkins celebrate

Kent State’s Mariah Modkins (5) and Asiah Dingle celebrate after the Flashes’ big win over Buffalo. (Photo by David Dermer from team Twitter feed.)

The Kent State women’s basketball team beat its biggest nemesis — the University of Buffalo — on Wednesday and advanced to the its first Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals in 10 years.

The Flashes won 72-66 and will play No. 7 Eastern Michigan at about 1:30 p.m. Friday in a mostly empty Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Fans except for players’ families are banned from the arena to try to prevent spread of the coronavirus.

No. 3 seed Kent State is the highest surviving seed. Top-seeded Central Michigan fell to ninth-seed Toledo 78-71 and No. 2 Ball State lost to Eastern 64-63. In the fourth semifinal, No. 4 Ohio beat No. 5 Western Michigan 84-75.

Buffalo had beaten Kent State twice in the regular season, once by 13 points, once by 14. The Bulls had knocked KSU out of the tournament in the quarterfinals the last two years. Since 2012, Buffalo is 17-4 against the Flashes.

But Wednesday belonged to Kent State. The team did things that it failed to do in the regular-season losses to the Bulls. Key numbers for Kent State:

  • 26-11 in points off turnovers. Buffalo had a combined advantage of 35-26 in first two games.
  • 32-32 in points in the paint. In the teams’ first game, it was Buffalo 28-12. In the second, it was Buffalo 38-14.
  • 34 rebounds to Buffalo’s 38, and the teams were 8-8 on second-chance points. On Saturday, Buffalo outrebounded KSU 47-34 and had a 23-15 edge on follow-up points.

“Buffalo has been our Achilles heel,” coach Todd Starkey said in an interview with ESPN after the game. “It’s a tough matchup for us. They’re a really aggressive team and can really rebound it.

“I thought we showed great composure when they made that run (11-0 in the fourth quarter). We found a way to get the stop at the right time, to rebound at the right time, and to score at the right time. Then we made free throws down the stretch.”

Freshman Nila Blackford put it simply in her postgame radio interview with announcer David Wilson:

“We really just wanted to beat Buffalo. We knew that we were the better team.”

KSU’s big 3rd quarter, Buffalo’s counter rally

Buffalo led 28-27 at halftime, but the Flashes dominated the second half of the third quarter and the first half of the fourth.

It started with aggressive plays that drew Buffalo fouls.

After just three-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter, Buffalo had committed five team fouls. That put Kent State in the two-shot bonus. It was KSU players who took the strategy to the coaches.

As the team came to the bench after a timeout, “I wasn’t really as focused on (the fouls) as I was on our game plan,” Starkey said.

Then the team talked to him and each other. Here’s how Starkey related it:

“Hey, they’re in the bonus,” team members said. “Let’s continue to stay aggressive and get to the line.

Kent State made nine-of-10 free throws in the third quarter and nine of 11 in the fourth. 

A 3-point shot by Katie Shumate at the buzzer of the third period gave KSU a 55-47 lead into the last period.

The Flashes pushed the lead to 15 points — 68-53 — with 3:36 to go in the game.

“We were just being really aggressive and moving the ball,” senior Megan Carter said. “It had them a little frazzled. They are so aggressive on defense, and they were just running around. I think our ball movement got to them.”

Then Buffalo came back.

Dyaisha Fair, the newly named MAC freshman of the year, had two steals, two baskets and two free throws. Kent State missed two shots and committed two fouls, and suddenly the score was 68-64 with 1:36 to play.

But then Fair missed a layup, then missed two 3-pointers while Carter, Shumate and Asiah Dingle made four free throws, and the Flashes had the win.

“We’ve talked all season that good teams make runs, and you’ve got to answer them,” Starkey said. “We didn’t answer that 11-0 run as quickly as I would have liked. It made it a little more nerve-racking down the stretch than we wanted, but I thought we did a good job of digging in.

“They made some really good plays and came right at us. This time of year, good players make good plays, great players make great plays. We had some great players make great plays to answer what they did.”

Blackford’s back

Blackford had struggled, especially in scoring, since she returned to the lineup  two weeks ago after a concussion. But Wednesday she looked like the woman who was Kent’s leading scorer and rebounder for most of the season. Blackford had 14 points on five-of-10 shooting and a game-high 13 rebounds. It was her fourth double-double of the season.

“They have really big, strong and athletic players,” Blackford said.athletic girls. So it was always tough, but I just tried to stay composed, calm down and go up strong.”

Dingle’s spark

As she’s done in almost every game since she began to come off the bench in February, Dingle made a big difference. She came into the game after about five minutes. Kent State trailed 9-7. On the next possession, she stole the ball and fed Lindsey Thall for a 3-point basket, then led an 9-2 run with two assists and two baskets. She finished the quarter with eight points.

“I felt we played very aggressive,” Dingle said. “When we didn’t, we were like, ‘Come on, we have to bring it to them like they’re bringing it to us.'”

Dingle led Kent State with 18 points, seven assists and four steals.

Starkey and the technical

After referees failed to call a foul on a Buffalo player in the second quarter, Starkey stormed down the sideline, his face red. Assistant coaches tried to hold him back.

“It’s my first technical of the year,” he said when a reporter brought it up. “I just want to point that out.

“I just saw a play where I felt like one of our players got pushed in the back, and it was getting physical. I just wanted to make sure I drew attention to the physical play.

I’m a passionate coach. I’m not going to apologize for that. I want to make sure our players know I have their back.

“So I lost it for a second there. I deserved to get a technical. But the rest of the game I felt like I coached with a lot of composure. Megan came over to me and said, ‘Coach, we need you.’ I appreciate that.”

The score was 31-24 after Buffalo made one of the technical foul shots and a 3-point basket on the next play.

Then Kent State outscored the Bulls 7-2 for the rest of the quarter.

The few and the loud

Kent State had about 100 fans in the 19,000-seat fieldhouse. 

“They were phenomenal,” Starkey said. “They made this place feel like it was a lot more full than it was. They participated in this win.”

Here’s what atmosphere was like in the near-empty fieldhouse.

The freshman of the year shows why

Buffalo’s Fair had 36 points, her season high and tied for the most points a player has scored against Kent State this season. She was fourth in the country in scoring going into the day at 21.5 points per game. Wednesday she took 31 shots, made 13, was eight-for-eight in foul shooting, had 11 rebounds and four steals.

“Our philosophy really wasn’t how we can limit Fair,” Starkey said. “It’s to make her shots tough, and then make sure we limit everybody else.

“And she hit some really tough shots, but she’s a special scorer.

No other Buffalo player scored more than six points.

Megan Carter’s first win in Cleveland

Carter has played in the quarterfinals since her redshirt sophomore year. Her teams had lost to Toledo and to Buffalo twice.

Starkey looked at her during the postgame press conference and asked, “It’s nice getting your first win in Cleveland, isn’t it, Megan?”

Real nice,” she answered.

It also was Starkey’s first win in Cleveland.

Carter had 12 points and made eight-of-nine free throws.

Box score


  • Ohio and Toledo will play at 11 a.m. Friday. The Kent State-Eastern Michigan game will start a half hour after the first game ends, probably about 1:30.
  • The win broke Buffalo’s six-game winning streak. It was the fifth win in six games for the Flashes. KSU’s record is 19-11. Buffalo’s is 19-12. The Bulls (and the Flashes, if they don’t win the MAC Tournament) have a good chance for a WNIT bid. That’s assuming the tournament doesn’t get canceled because of the coronavirus.
  • The Flashes made 24 of 27 free throws. That’s 89% and their second-best performance of the season. They made 30 of 31 against St. Bonaventure. After a mid-season slump in drawing fouls (and, at times, making foul shots), the Flashes have made an average of 21 over their last six games.
  • Two Buffalo players fouled out. Two more had four fouls. Dingle and Thall had four for the Flashes.
  • Kent State made 40% of its shots, Buffalo 36.4%. Neither team was effective from 3-point distance; KSU was four of 17, Buffalo three of 16.
  • Thall had eight points, three assists and three rebounds.
  • The Flashes had just seven turnovers through three quarters but finished with 15. Buffalo had six steals in the last quarter.

The view from Buffalo

Coach Felisha Legette-Jack:

“What a season we had. My goodness, we’ve come a long way. We’ve done so much with the third youngest team in the country. They just bought in and believed in this crazy old lady. We just went in and we just fought and we just believed and we just kept firing away.”

“We went to a little slump, lost five or six games in a row, but we didn’t lose those games. We may have lost three or four of them, but we were really, really good through two losses.”

On Dyaisha Fair:

“I try to share with the world that she’s special. She’s a substance kid, and the reason why she said ‘yes’ to us is because she believed that we had substance. We were going to grow her to this woman that I know she’s on her way to become. I am as in awe of this young lady as you are.”

Dyaisha Fair on her role on the team:

“We don’t have a go-to player on this team. We are a go-to team. I just do what I have to do as my role. I just take whatever my coach tells me to do, and I do it,  along with my upperclassmen.”

Transcript of the postgame KSU press conference.

Transcript of the Buffalo press conference.

Report from an almost empty arena

I asked KentWired reporter Kathryn Rajnicek to describe what it’s like in Cleveland, where the women’s Mid-American Conference Tournament is being played in an almost empty area. Here’s her report.

It’s much too quiet at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. 

No bands playing school fight songs. No cheerleaders pumping up the crowd.

About all you hear is the PA announcing the scoring and the music pulsing from the speakers of the main scoreboard through timeouts and between quarters.

The only fans in attendance are family members of players. They take up two small sections, but the rest of the 19,000 seats are vacant. The rows and rows of empty chairs make the fieldhouse look bigger than it is. 

Fans create so much of the atmosphere of college sports. Without them, March loses much of its madness.


March mess: Cornavirus forces KSU to play Buffalo in near-empty arena in MAC quarterfinals

Team at The Rock (1)

The Flashes after practice at Rocket Mortgage Arena Tuesday. (Photo from team Twitter feed.)

There may be almost no one in the stands watching Wednesday, but the Kent State women’s basketball team has a big challenge in its MAC Tournament quarterfinal game with Buffalo.

The MAC announced late Tuesday afternoon that, as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine had asked earlier in the day, attendance would be restricted to media, players’ families and school and tournament officials to help contain the coronavirus outbreak. Details on the MAC statement.

Kent State and other MAC teams are already in Cleveland and practiced Tuesday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (formerly Quicken Loans Arena), the 19,000-seat home of the Cleveland Cavaliers and site of the tournament.

All tournament games will be broadcast or streamed on ESPN+, the CBS Sports Channel (men’s semifinals and women’s finals) and ESPN2 (men’s finals). Details on how to get ESPN+ are below.

KSU’s Katie Shumate and Nila Blackford made all freshman team, Lindsey Thall made all-defensive team, and Shumate and Megan Carter were honorable mention all-MAC.

KSU-Buffalo: Chapter 3

The Flashes finished two spots ahead of Buffalo in the regular season but lost twice to the Bulls, once by 13 points, once by 14. Buffalo knocked Kent State out of the tournament in the quarterfinals last year and the year before. Buffalo’s teams then were the best in school history. Both won at least one game in the NCAA tournament. The 2017-18 team reached the Sweet 16.

This year’s games were not quite as bad as the scores. The Flashes led the game in Kent by four points going into the fourth quarter. But they were plagued by turnovers and hot Buffalo shooting in the fourth in a 57-44 loss. Kent State lost to the Bulls Saturday 72-58 in Buffalo in a game that meant nothing to the Flashes’ tournament seeding. The Bulls could have had as low as a ninth seed if they had lost, so their incentive was strong.

The individual matchups are tough ones for the Flashes. The Bulls’ trademark is hard defense and rebounding, where they lead the conference in rebounding margin (+4.4 per game), offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds. They outrebounded Kent State 47-34 Saturday, though KSU outrebounded them 41-40 in February. Kent’s average rebounding margin is -1.8.

The Bulls also have guard Dyaisha Fair, the newly named MAC freshman of the year. She averages 21.5 points a game, fourth in the country. She scored 25 against KSU Saturday and 17 in February.

“Buffalo is just super aggressive — relentless,” said KSU senior Megan Carter, who will be playing the Bulls for the 10th time in her career. “They just crash the board. And Dyaisha Fair. She’s like a walking bucket.”

All of these interviews were conducted Monday before the MAC announced fans wouldn’t be in attendance.

Kent State is 2-7 in the games against Buffalo Carter has played and Todd Starkey has coached. Both wins were in Kent, one in their MAC East championship year in 2017 and last season, when they upset Buffalo 62-53 in the last game of the regular season.

“Buffalo is going to try to not let you run what you want to all offensively  and defensively,” Starkey said. “A lot of their offense is based on being aggressive to the basket and on offensive rebounds.”

The KSU players want very badly to beat Buffalo.

“We want a win,” said sophomore Lindsey Thall, who had 28 points against the Bulls Saturday. “Last game we didn’t match their intensity. But if we do, we’ll be fine.”

For Carter at this point in the season, every game could be the last of her career.

“I try not to think about it,” she said. “I want a championship and then go to the tournament. So I at least want four more games. I just use the opportunity in front of me and take it day by day.”

(Carter likely has at least two more games. The Flashes have a good case to make the WNIT if they lose in the MAC Tournament.)

What’s she telling KSU’s three freshman about their first experience in the tournament?

“Just enjoy every moment and the opportunity. And have fun.”

Thall’s advice to the freshmen:

“Just keep their poise. A lot of things can change during a game because it’s a really loud atmosphere. So just keep their cool.”

Carter on what it is like playing in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse?

“That’s a professional arena. It’s big. It’s like rows and rows and rows. And the depth perception changes.”

Does she like playing there?

“Yeah. It’s pretty cool. Pretty cool.”

It will be a strange arena when they play to empty seats.

Starkey said he thought his team was ready.

“We had a great final three weeks of the season, playing some of our best basketball,” he said. “The Buffalo game was tough to prepare for in that weren’t really going to enhance our playoff position in any way. And Buffalo is always a tough place to play.

“But we’ve put that behind us, and I think everybody is excited about getting up to Cleveland.”

The coach said the team is as healthy as could be expected.

We’re banged up, but everybody probably could give you a list of issues they’re dealing with at this time of year,” he said. “If you’re not banged up a little bit, you’re probably not playing very hard.”

Starkey said that he doesn’t agree with the argument that freshmen — Kent State starts two and a third plays significant minutes — don’t play like freshmen at the end of the season.

“We don’t have experience with what the MAC Tournament looks like and what it’s like playing up there,” he said. “Most of our players have either played one game or no games there. You can’t train experience. But it’s our job to prepare them for that environment.”

Does playing Buffalo for the second time in five days make any difference? Starkey said it helped Kent to have had the first-round bye and the extra rest. “We earned it,” he said.

With a team like Buffalo that they’ve played twice, “You try and make some quick tweaks here and there, but teams aren’t going to morph into something they’re at this time of year.”

All about the game

It should start between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. The first of the four quarterfinal games starts at noon. Each of the next starts a half hour after the previous game ends. So times are inexact.

Winner will play the winner of the Ball State-Eastern Michigan game at about 1:30 p.m. Friday.

MAC Women’s Tournament Central, including brackets, statistics and more.

The teams

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

  • Record: Kent State 18-11 overall and 11-7 in regular-season MAC play. Buffalo is 19-11, 9-9 in MAC. Buffalo has won six games in a row. Kent State has won four of its last five, with the only loss coming to Buffalo.
  • RPI: Kent State 97 of 351 Division I teams. Buffalo 113. (RPI is based on a team’s record and schedule strength.)
  • Power rankings: Kent State 103. Buffalo 104. (Adds factors like margin of victory, record in recent games, injuries.)
  • Scoring average: KSU fifth in MAC at 69.0 points per game. Buffalo seventh at 68.1.
  • Defensive average: KSU fourth at 67.1. Buffalo sixth at 67.5.
  • Field-goal percentage: KSU 10th at 40.0% (seventh on 3-pointers at 31.2%). Buffalo 11th at 39.7% (last on 3s at 25.3%).
  • Field-goal defense: KSU fourth at 39.1% (11th on 3s at 35.9%). Buffalo fifth at 39.4 (10th on 3s at 34.3%).
  • Free-throw shooting: Kent State seventh at 68.9%. Buffalo fourth at 70.5%.
  • Rebounding margin: KSU seventh at -1.1. Buffalo first at +4.4.
  • Turnover margin: KSU fourth at +1.5. Buffalo sixth at +0.5. KSU sixth in steals at 6.9, Buffalo fourth at 8.1.
  • Assists: Kent State 10th at 10.8. Buffalo 11th at 10.9.
  • Blocked shots: Kent State first at 4.5. Buffalo sixth at 2.4.

Top players

Kent State starters

  • 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (12.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, sixth in MAC in 3-point percentage at 39.0, eighth in field-goal percentage at 44.3, 12th in free-throw percentage at 75.9).
  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (11.5 points, sixth in rebounding at 8.1).
  • 5-7 senior guard Megan Carter (11.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.3 steals).
  • 5-1 freshman guard Mariah Modkins (3.8 points, 37.1 3-point shooting, 1.4 assists).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (11.4 points, 1.9 three-point baskets a game, first in MAC in blocked shots at 2.7).

Key KSU reserves

  • 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (14.3 points, third in MAC in field-goal percentage at 52.3, fourth in steals at 2.2, 2.7 assists).
  • 5-10 sophomore guard Hannah Young (5.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 35.7 three-point percentage).
  • 5-10 freshman guard Clare Kelly (2.2 points, 1.5 rebounds).
  • 5-11 junior forward Monique Smith (1.0 points, 2.2 rebounds).

Buffalo starters

  • 5-5 freshman guard Dyaisha Fair (fourth in MAC at 19.8 points per game, fourth in Division I in all games at 21.5 points, seventh at 3.5 assists, second in steals at 2.4. Named MAC freshman of the year Tuesday.)
  • 5-10 senior guard Therese Onwuka (13.2 points, 10th in rebounding at 7.6, third in steals at 2.2).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Adebola Adeyeye (8.2 points, fourth in rebounding at 8.6).
  • 5-3 senior guard Hanna Hall (8.1 points, 2.9 assists).
  • 6-foot junior forward Marissa Hamilton (4.7 points, 4.0 rebounds).

Top Buffalo reserves

  • 6-3 freshman center Elea Gaba (5.3 points, 2.4 rebounds).
  • 6-3 sophomore forward Keowa Walters (5.2 points, 4.1 rebounds).
  • 6-3 freshman forward Loren Christie (2.6 points, 2.9 rebounds).
  • 5-9 freshman guard Jessika Schiffer (2.7 points, 1.1 rebounds)

Following the game from home

Video stream on ESPN+ starts at game time at about 8 p.m. All four MAC quarterfinals, starting with Central Michigan-Toledo game at noon, are on ESPN+, which costs $4.99 a month. Men’s quarterfinals are on the network on Thursday, along with women’s semifinals on Friday.

ESPN+ also will stream a number of KSU spring events, especially baseball and softball. It also will stream the MAC gymnastics championship and most spring championships.  ESPN+ includes all other MAC schools, many other mid-major conferences and some original programming.

Audio will start at about 7:45 p.m. on WHLO 640 and Golden Flash iHeart Radio. David Wilson is the announcer.

Live statistics for all tournament games will be on the MAC Tournament website during the games.


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

Buffalo website, with links.

Scores (including games in progress).

MAC statistics.

MAC standings.







(Almost) no fans will be able to attend MAC Tournament because of coronavirus fears

The Mid-American Conference Tournament will be played in a mostly empty Rocket Mortgage Arena Fieldhouse.

The MAC announced late Tuesday afternoon that only player family members, media and school officials will be allowed in the fieldhouse for the tournament, which starts Wednesday.

The move, the conference said, came after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine asked that attendance be limited at all athletic centers in order to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Here’s the MAC statement:

MAC cancel

All games will be broadcast or streamed on ESPN+, the CBS Sports Channel (men’s semifinals and women’s finals) and ESPN2 (men’s finals).

Kent State games will be broadcast on WHLO and Golden Flashes iHeart Radio.

The Kent State women’s team is scheduled to play Buffalo at about 8 p.m. Wednesday. It’s the last of four quarterfinal games that day.

The KSU men play Ball State at about 8 Thursday, again the last of four games. Semifinals are Friday for men and women. Finals are Saturday.


A tournament without spectators? MAC plans announcement today

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday afternoon that large indoor sporting events should not permit spectators to contain spread of coronavirus.

At 4 p.m., MAC had made no new announcement on its tournament, which starts at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland Wednesday. Yesterday MAC statement had said tourney would go on.

A league source told wbbFlashes that the MAC could have a new statement as early as 5:30 today.

The statement said the league was monitoring the situation daily. Here’s the full text:

Mac statement

The Kent State women’s team is scheduled to play Buffalo at about 8 p.m. Wednesday. It’s the last of four quarterfinal games that day.

The KSU men play Ball State at about 8 Thursday, again the last of four games. Semifinals are Friday for men and women. Finals are Saturday.

All games will be broadcast or streamed on ESPN+, the CBS Sports Channel (men’s semifinals and women’s finals) and ESPN2 (men’s finals).


Shumate, Blackford make MAC all-freshman team; Thall is all-defensive

MAC awards KSU people

From left are Megan Carter (honorable mention all-MAC), Lindsey Thall (all-defensive team), Nila Blackford (all-freshman team) and Katie Shumate (all-freshman and honorable mention all-MAC). (Illustration from KSU website.)

Kent State’s Nila Blackford and Katie Shumate made the Mid-American Conference all-freshman, and sophomore Lindsey Thall was named to the all-defensive team.

Shumate and senior Megan Carter received honorable mention all-MAC.

Central Michigan’s Micaela Kelly was MAC player of the year, CMU’s Heather Oesterle coach of the year and Buffalo’s Dyaisha Fair freshman of the year.

The selection of Blackford and Shumate means Kent State put two players on the all-freshman team for the second year in a row. Asiah Dingle and Thall were all-freshman last season.

First-team all-MAC members were Kelly, Ohio’s Cece Hooks and Erica Johnson, Ball State’s Oshlynn Brown and Northern Illinois’ Courtney Woods.

The results were released today by the MAC. Media members vote on coach of the year, player of the year and freshmen of the year; league head coaches on the rest of the awards.

Shumate currently is   a game. She scored more than 20 three times, more than 15 12 times and had a high of 27 against Bowling Green Feb. 29. Other stats:

  • First on the team and fifth in the MAC in minutes played (34.4 per game).
  • Second on the team and 14th in MAC in rebounds (6.4).
  • Second on the team and sixth in MAC in blocked shots (0.9).
  • Second on the team and eight in MAC in 3-point percentage (37.4).
  • Third on the team in field-goal percentage (42.7).
  • Third on the team in assists (1.5) and steals (1.2).
  • Her 13 made free throws against Bowling Green ties for most in the MAC this season. So does her 15 attempts that day.
  • Had three double-doubles.

Statistics are for all games; rankings are for player averaging more than 10 minutes per game.

Blackford leads the team in rebounds at 7.8 per game, which is sixth in the MAC. She had 15 rebounds against Akron Feb. 26,  and had three double-doubles.

She led Kent State in scoring most of the season, but her output has dropped since she suffered a concussion against Akron Feb. 12. Blackford missed three games and has averaged just over six points a game since. She has averaged nine rebounds since coming back from her injury.

Blackford was third on team in scoring at 12.2 points per game. She had 31 points against Robert Morris and scored 20 or more four times.

Thall led the MAC in blocked shots at 2.2 (2.7 in conference games). She blocked four or more shots seven times this season with a high of seven blocks against Eastern Michigan. Her 63 total blocks rank 29th in the country and seventh in KSU history. Thall also led the MAC in blocks last season at 1.6 per game.

Carter fought injuries and illness through most of the season but still averaged 12.2 points a game and scored more than 20 five times. She reached 1,000 points in her career against St. Bonaventure won Dec. 3 and ranks 18th in scoring in Kent State history at 1,234 points.

The full all-MAC awards:

Player of the Year

  • Micaela Kelly, Central Michigan

Coach of the Year

  • Heather Oesterle, Central Michigan

Freshman of the Year

  • Dyaisha Fair, Buffalo

Defensive Player of the Year

  • Cece Hooks, Ohio

Sixth Player of the Year

  • Gabrielle Bird, Central Michigan

All-MAC First Team

  • Oshlynn Brown, Ball State
  • Micaela Kelly, Central Michigan
  • Courtney Woods, Northern Illinois
  • Cece Hooks, Ohio
  • Erica Johnson, Ohio

All-MAC Second Team

  • Dyaisha Fair, Buffalo
  • Molly Davis, Central Michigan
  • Areanna Combs, Eastern Michigan
  • Lauren Dickerson, Miami
  • Breanna Mobley, Western Michigan

All-MAC Third Team

  • Haliegh Reinoehl, Akron
  • Theresa Onwuka, Buffalo
  • Kyra Bussell, Central Michigan
  • Savannah Kluesner, Miami
  • Jordan Walker, Western Michigan

All-MAC Honorable Mention

  • Jordyn Dawson, Akron
  • Angela Perry, Bowling Green
  • Megan Carter, Kent State
  • Katie Shumate,Kent State
  • Amani Burke, Ohio

All-Defensive Team 

  • Theresa Onwuka, Buffalo
  • Micaela Kelly, Central Michigan
  • Areanna Combs, Eastern Michigan
  • Lindsey Thall, Kent State
  • Cece Hooks, Ohio

All-Freshman Team 

  • Sydney Freeman, Ball State
  • Dyaisha Fair, Buffalo
  • Molly Davis, Central Michigan
  • Nila Blackford, Kent State
  • Katie Shumate, Kent State
  • Peyton Scott, Miami

All-freshman team has six members because of a tie in the voting.

After Buffalo’s 87-72 win Monday, Flashes and Bulls will play again in quarterfinals

MAC quarterfinals bracketThe 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.

Buffalo-Miami box score.

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.