Flashes, tied with Toledo in MAC, host Rockets in big game Saturday

Shumate vs. Akron

Katie Shumate has averaged 13.5 points and 10 rebounds in Kent State’s last two games. (Photo from team Twitter feed.)

Toledo (6-5 and tied with KSU for 5th in MAC)

at Kent State (6-5 and 13-9 overall)

Game starts at about 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, at the M.A.C. Center. It’s second game of doubleheader with KSU men, who play Ohio at 1 p.m. Women’s game will start a half hour after men’s game ends. One ticket gets you in both games

Women’s game is Kent State’s annual “Play4Kay” game that honors cancer survivors and raises money to fight women’s cancers. Kent State is asking fans to support its fundraising by donating for every free throw the Flashes make in February. Here’s link to donation page. The event is named after Kay Yow, the Hall of Fame coach at North Carolina State, who several battles with cancer. Most college teams have such a game.

Men’s tickets range from $12 to $37 and will get you in both games. Women’s general admission tickets are $5. There is free admission for cancer survivors. Kent State women’s home attendance averages 1,200, seventh in the MAC.

What’s at stake

This is a very big game for both teams.

Kent State and Toledo are tied for fifth place in the MAC, a half game behind Eastern Michigan. The top four teams in the league get a first-round bye in the conference tournament next month.

Kent State lost at Toledo last month. If they lose again, Toledo will get the higher seed if the teams tie at the end of the season. If Kent wins, the teams will go to a secondary tie-breaker, which can get complicated and won’t be clear until the end of the season.

In the teams’ first game, Kent State led 31-28 at halftime, but Toledo made 15 more free throws than the Flashes did in the second half and won 69-60.

It was the first of four games that have seen Kent State struggle to draw and make free throws. Earlier in the season, KSU led the MAC in free throw percentage. In their last four games, they’ve shot only 43 free throws and made only 24. That’s 56%.


REPORT CARD ON KSU’s WIN OVER AKRON: Flashes played good defense for third game in a row.


What to watch

The game at Toledo was third in a string of six games in which Kent State has found its defense but lost its offense.

The Flashes have held those teams to an average of 57 points but scored an average of 58.5. Kent State has made only 27% of its 3-point shots in that time. Add KSU’s troubles at the foul line.

So the big things to watch are:

  • Is Kent State’s defense holding up?
  • Are Kent State’s shots — especially long-range shots — falling?
  • Are the Flashes getting their share of free throws?

Toledo’s Mariella Santucci, a senior point guard, has been on a tear over the Rockets’ last four games, averaging 20 points. That’s double her season average. She scored her 1,000th point Saturday in Toledo’s 60-58 loss at home to Ball State. Santucci also is third in the MAC in assists.

Nakiah Black leads Toledo in scoring at 13.6 points per game in MAC play.

Asiah Dingle didn’t play against the Rockets in the first game because she was finishing a suspension. Since then, she’s come off the bench and averaged almost 14 points a game, making 64% of her field goal attempts.

KSU coach Todd Starkey said it was questionable whether freshman forward Nila Blackford, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, could play Saturday. Blackford hit her head hard on the floor after a battle for a rebound in the last 30 seconds of the Akron game. She lay on the floor for more than a minute before she was helped off.

Blackford’s backup, junior Monique Smith, turned her ankle early in the Akron game. She returned for a few minutes in the second half.

Team comparisons

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

  • RPI: Kent State 105 of 351 Division I teams. Toledo 153. (RPI is based on a team’s record and schedule strength.)
  • Power rankings: Kent State 115. Toledo 162. (Adds factors like margin of victory, record in recent games, injuries.)
  • Kent State home record (MAC games)3-2. Toledo road record: 2-3.
  • Scoring average: KSU 12th and last in MAC at 64.9 points per game. Toledo sixth at 69.6.
  • Defensive average: KSU first at 64.4. Toledo fourth at 68.3.
  • Field-goal percentage: KSU 10th at 40.0 (eighth on 3-pointers at 30.2%). Toledo second at 42.6 (third on 3s at 33.8%).
  • Field-goal defense: KSU second at 37.8 (last on 3s at 35.7%). Toledo ninth at 42.7 (ninth on 3s at 33.5).
  • Free throw shooting: Kent State sixth at 68.6%. Toledo second at 72.5.
  • Rebounding margin: KSU seventh at -1.3. Toledo third at +3.5.
  • Turnover margin: KSU fourth at +0.3. Toledo 11th at -3.0. KSU seventh in steals at 6.5. Toledo 11th at 6.2.
  • Assists: Kent State last at 10.6. Toledo third at 14.0.
  • Blocked shots: Kent State first at 4.6. Toledo eighth at 2.0.

Top players

Kent State

  • 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (13.6 points, 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals per game).
  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (13.4 points, 7.7 rebounds).
  • 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (11.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 41.0% three-point shooting).
  • 5-7 senior guard Megan Carter (10.8 points, 3.5 rebounds).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (8.9 points, 1.6 three-point baskets a game, first in MAC in blocked shots at 2.6 per game).

Toledo

  • 5-10 junior guard Nakiah Black (13.6 points per game, 4.4 rebounds).
  • 5-8 senior guard Mariella Santucci (12.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.8 assists.)
  • 5-9 freshman guard Quinesha Lockett (10.2 points, 1.2 steals.)

Following the game from home

Video stream on ESPN3 starts at game time at about 3:30 p.m. It’s free if you have a subscription to ESPN on cable, satellite or on the ESPN app. David Wilson is the announcer.

Audio starts at about 3:15 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.

Toledo website, with links.

MAC statistics.

MAC standings.

Once again, good defense means a good report card for Flashes

Dingle vs. AkronAsiah Dingle had 15 points and four steals against Akron Wednesday. (Photo from KSU Twitter feed.)

Kent State’s 60-55 win over Akron followed the pattern of recent games: good defense, less good offense, struggles with turnovers and foul shooting. Here’s the report card.


If you haven’t seen it, here’s Hannah Young’s offensive rebound and feed to Lindsey Thall for a critical 3-point basket in Wednesday’s game.

Kent State Women’s Basketball@KentStWBB

1:41 4Q | Kent State 54, Akron 53

Lindsey Thall for 3 and the lead!

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GAME STORY: Thall’s 5 blocks and key 3-point, Dingle’s 15 points an 4 steals lead KSU to victory.


Kent State 60, Akron 55

Score 70 points on offense: 60. Over last three games, they’ve averaged 59 (but won twice). NOT ACHIEVED.

Hold opponent under 70: 55. Over last three games, opponents have averaged 55. Kent held Bowling Green, Ohio and Akron 10 points below their MAC averages. ACHIEVED.

Make 40% of shots: 41.1. For the first time in conference play, KSU’s overall shooting percentage has hit 40 (exactly). Flashes’ 2-point percentage, among nation’s worst last season at 39.5%, is 44.4% in MAC play. Three-point center age is down from 33 to 30 in league play. ACHIEVED.

Hold opponent under 40%: 36.9, A good percentages even though it was highest of last three games. KSU’s 3-point defense has dropped from 45% to 35% over last five games. ACHIEVED.

Outscore opponent by five on free throws: Yes, but… Flashes made 11, Akron five. But Kent also missed 10 free throws. Akron missed zero. ACHIEVED.

Outscore opponent by five points off turnovers: Akron 15 off of 18 KSU turnovers. Kent State 14 off Akron’s 12. Second half was 13-5 Kent State on points. NOT ACHIEVED.

Have 14 assists: 12 on 23 baskets. Percentage is fine. Total is a little low. Part of that, I think, is Asiah Dingle’s 15 points. Dingle gets many of her points on steals and drives, not on assisted baskets. She made six of seven shots Wednesday. Over last, she’s 18 out of 28 for 64%. For season she’s shooting 46% about five percentage points better than last year.  NOT QUITE ACHIEVED.

Get 10 points from the bench: 21, Dingle’s 15 were the bulk of that, but Hannah Young had four and Sydney Brinlee two. ACHIEVED.

BOTTOM LINE: Quality of play: B+.

Kent State statistics

The view from Akron

Coach Melissa Jackson on Kent’s 60-55 win, quoted in the Beacon Journal:

Kent State is a good team, and we are a good team. We’ve shown that multiple times. We’ve been in every single game in conference play. When we put it together for a full game, we know what we’re capable of.”

“I’m so proud of our kids’ effort. They continued to fight and they worked their tails off. I can’t ask much more from them.”

“I think the game was really physical. I think that the refs allowed that. It’s a rivalry game. You can’t control the officials. You can’t control some of that stuff. You’ve got to play through it.”

“Dingle kind of just went through us. She’s quick, she’s tough to guard in transition.”

Akron senior forward Haliegh Reinoehl:

“You can’t beat a good team twice, and I think we’re a good team. We’re gonna go right into their house, and we’re gonna win. I have no doubt.”

The teams play in Kent Feb. 26.

A recruit’s troubled week

Casey Santoro, Kent State’s star recruit from Bellevue High School, made national news in a bad way this week.

A short video clip that went viral showed Santoro pulling the hair of a Norwalk High School player as the players were running upcourt after Santoro made a 3-point basket. The Norwalk player fell to the ground.  Officials didn’t call a foul; it was unclear whether they saw the incident.

The clip was retweeted hundreds, if not thousands, of times. It was written about by TMZ, the New York Post and the Washington Post, among others, and reported by local newspapers as well as Cleveland and Toledo television stations. Some people on Twitter and commentary websites castigated Santoro and, sometimes, Kent State, where she has signed a letter of intent to receive a basketball scholarship next year. She and her family have received threats.

Santoro apologized for the incident on her team’s Twitter feed. The father of Olivia Ward, the Norwalk player, posted on Facebook that her family accepted the apology. He strongly criticized “hateful, threatening comments” directed at Santoro and asked people to “please stop.”

Santoro’s apology, posted on Wednesday, read:

I would like to publicly apologize to Norwalk’s Olivia Ward, and all basketball fans in the area for this past weekend’s unfortunate incident. My intentions were never to hurt anyone.

“I know it’s brought a lot of negative attention to our area and the game I love. I will learn from this and become a better person because of it.”

The Facebook post of Jason Ward, Olivia’s father, said the two families would meet in the near future to discuss the incident. He said he had been in contact with Kory Santoro, Casey’s father, who is also the Bellevue girls coach. Ward’s letter read, in part:

“She (Casey) made a mistake, which we are all guilty of at some point, and she will have to live with the ramifications of that. That being said, my family, and more importantly, Liv, does not want to see Casey’s life and future ruined over this.

“We don’t want Casey or the Santoro family to be verbally or physically assaulted, threatened or otherwise harassed due to this lapse in good judgement. However one might view the events and subsequent video of the incident, this does not justify the hateful, threatening comments towards Casey or the Santoro family on social media.

“As a father, this is not something that I condone, and as a decent human being I find it disgraceful that this kid would be threatened on social media or otherwise….If you are guilty of posting anything hateful or threatening toward this kid, please stop….

“”Sonja and I do our best as parents, and this is a chance to for us and our family to forgive someone, however hard it may be, which we have done and will do in person very soon….

“Liv said to me, ‘Dad, I know how hard I have worked to get where I am at and set myself up for the future. I know that Casey has worked just as hard, and I don’t want to see her to lose everything over this.'”

The full statement was reported in a story in the Norwalk Reflector .

Ward suffered a concussion, her father said, and won’t play the rest of the season. She did start and score the first basket in Norwalk’s game this week, then went to the bench.

Bellevue officials suspended Santoro for Tuesday’s game against Shelby, which is Bellevue’s top rival in the Division II Ashland District. Santoro’s absence helped cost her team its undefeated record. Shelby won 56-43. The two teams could meet again in the district finals. Shelby is 20-1, Bellevue 21-1. Santoro also didn’t play in Thursday’s game against Sandusky, which Bellevue won 54-36. The Sandusky Register report on Thursday’s game said Santoro would return to action when Bellevue begins section play next week.

Santoro is averaging 25 points a game and recently scored the 2,000th point of her high school career. She has twice been district player of the year and twice been first-team all-state in Division II.

I’ve followed Casey online since she verbally committed to Kent State last February. I’ve never read anything negative about her before. An KSU assistant once described her to me as “tough as nails.” It was a compliment.

After the incident, Casey’s teammates tweeted about her as a great teammate and a good person. Ward’s friends and teammates at Norwalk tweeted the same things about her. Ward has a scholarship to play volleyball next year at Division II Tiffin University.

Kent State coach Todd Starkey declined to discuss the incident. On Twitter, he “liked” Casey’s apology.

Here’s the clip (incident is at center court at the bottom):

 

Here are some earlier stories about Santoro.

When she scored her 2,000th point

When she signed her letter of intent to play at KSU

 

MAC 2-13

Around the MAC

Kent State, Eastern Michigan and Ball State shook up the middle of the “golf” standings with road wins.

Eastern moved ahead of Toledo into fourth place in both the regular and golf standings. Kent and Toledo are tied in the regular standings; KSU is a point ahead in the golf standings.

Toledo and Kent State play Saturday afternoon in Kent.

Ball State beat Toledo 60-58 at Toledo as the Rockets missed a jumper at the buzzer that would have sent the game to overtime. Graduate student Jasmin Sanz had 15 points for Ball State. Senior guard Mariella Santucci had 16 for Toledo, including the 1,000th point of her career.

Eastern Michigan won at Bowling Green 70-58, rallying from two points down at halftime with a 19-9 third quarter. Sophomore guard Jenna Annecchiarico led the Eagles with 22 points. Areanna Combs had 20. Angela Perry had 18 for BG.

Western Michigan handed Buffalo its fourth straight loss and broke a three-game losing steak of its own with a 74-62 win in Kalamazoo. Jordan Walker had 18 points for Western. Theresa Onwuka had 17 for Buffalo, whose losing streak is its longest since 2016.

Northern Illinois won its second straight game in overtime, beating  Miami 86-84 at home. Courtney Woods, who scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds, hit a jumper with five seconds to go in overtime to provide the margin of victory. Miami led by 18 in the first quarter. Savannah Kluesner had 28 points, 12 rebounds and seven steals for the the Redhawks.

First-place Central Michigan and second-place Ohio had byes.

BEST SATURDAY GAMES: Toledo at Kent State. Ball State at Buffalo.

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 (11-0, 18-4)

-2

  • Ohio (8-3, 15-7)
  • Ball State (8-3, 16-7)
  • Eastern Michigan (7-5, 12-11)

-1

  • Kent State (6-5, 13-9)

Even

  • Toledo (6-5, 11-11)

+1

  • Western Michigan (5-6, 12-10)
  • Buffalo (4-7, 13-9)
  • Northern Illinois (3-7, 7-14)

+2

  • Miami (4-8, 11-13)

+3

  • Akron (3-8, 10-12)

+5

  • Bowling Green (1-10, 8-15)

Regular MAC standings

MAC statistics

Thall’s 5 blocks, Dingle’s 4 steals and 15 points lead Flashes past Akron

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Nila Blackford makes a short jumper against Akron in photo shot from catwalk above the James. A. Rhodes Arena. Blackford had 10 points and nine rebounds but was hurt late in the game. (Photo from KSU Twitter feed.)

17 seconds in the fourth quarter showed how important Lindsey Thall was to the Kent State’s 60-55 victory over Akron Wednesday.

With 1:56 to go, Thall blocked a layup attempt by Akron. 11 seconds later Hannah Young grabbed an offensive rebound and passed to Thall, who was probably six feet beyond the 3-point arc. She hit the shot smoothly to give KSU a 54-53 lead.

35 seconds in the third quarter showed how important Asiah Dingle was to the win. Akron had outscored Kent 12-3 to start the third quarter and take its biggest lead at 40-33.

With 4:48 to go in the quarter, Dingle passed to Nila Blackford near the basket for a layup. On the next possession, Dingle stole the ball and drove three-quarters of the court for a layup. Then she stole the inbounds pass for another layup.

Dingle came off the bench to lead KSU with 15 points and four steals.

Thall had seven points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.

“There were a lot of crazy plays down the stretch — a lot of intensity out there,” coach Todd Starkey said. “In that last time out, we brought them over and said, ‘Wd’ve got to be the calmer, more composed team. We’ve got to get stops and keep them off the offensive glass. And they did a really good job in the last two or three minutes doing just that.”

Thall’s 3-point basket was the first of those plays. The second was a steal by Blackford off of a press on Akron’s next possession, which led to the third, a driving layup by Dingle on a fast break. She was fouled and converted the three-point play and Kent State had a 57-53 lead.

On Thall’s 3-pointer:

“I was just trying to be aggressive and get the rebound,” Young said. “And then I saw Lindsey and I was like, ‘I’ve got to get it to her.'”

On Blackford’s steal:

“We wanted to look for opportunities to press,” Starkey said. “After Lindsey’s 3, we called time out and pressed out of that and got a turnovers. We had back-to-back presses off of made baskets, which we don’t usually do, and I think it caught them by surprise.”

On Dingle’s three-point play:

A bang-bang play and she finished,” Starkey said.

And what about Dingle’s back-to-back steals in the third quarter that got Kent State back in the game:

“That was huge — a huge turnaround for us,” Starkey said. “It gave us some life.

“Sometimes she drives me a little bit crazy, just playing with her hair on fire. But she has the ability to make big plays like that when you let her loose.”

Dingle said she knew the team needed a boost.

“Coach talked about not getting down…getting a pinch and just keep going,” she said. “So I recognized the play they ran and got the steals.”

It was the third straight game the Flashes had relied on their defense to carry them. The team is 2-1 in that stretch despite averaging only 59 points in that time. They  allowed an average of 55 in that time.

“Our defense has been our calling card lately,” Starkey said. “The beginning of the year, it was just the opposite.

“But we have to figure out a way to score the basketball. Thall’s 3 was so big for us because we couldn’t throw it in the ocean again. It might be the time of the year. The legs are getting tired and we’ve been missing some open looks that we didn’t miss earlier in the year.”

Kent State was three for 14 from 3-point distance. Over their last three games, the Flashes are 12 for 53 for 22.6%.

The Flashes also struggled for the third straight game on free throws (11 of 21) and turnovers (18 to Akron’s 12). Not long ago they were among the MAC leaders in both categories.

“We should have scored in the 70s,” Starkey said for the second game in a row. “We have to become a better team at not beating ourselves. Once again, defense bailed us out, but we have to be more efficient with the ball on our hands, and we’ve got to score at a higher clip.”

Thall the shot blocker

Thall leads the conference, averaging 2.6 blocks in MAC games. That’s one block a game more than last year, when she also led the league.

Her five blocks were her second highest of the season (she blocked seven against Eastern Michigan). She’s blocked four or more six times this year.

Thall is 6-2 but not a great leaper. KSU radio announcer David Wilson asked her about her rebounding strategy after the game:

“I just for areas where I can help off of my player,” she said. “If they’re not in a really threatening position offensively, I can kind of sneak off and help our  guards out when their players get to the hoop.”

Starkey called Thall “just a really smart defender.”

“She tracks the ball,” he said. “She plays great position defense, and she leaves the floor second, which all great shot blockers do.”

Young the defender

Young played 27 minutes for the second straight game. She had six rebounds and four points. She was guarding Alyssa Clay, Akron’s top 3-point-shooting-guard, when Kent State led by three points in the last minute.

“”Hannah did a great job of making sure she understood some of the actions that they run to try and get her open,” Starkey said. “She did a great job of chasing her and talking early when she needed help.”

Young said she knew it was important not to let Clay get away from her.

“I knew that if I did help off of her (to guard another player), they would kick out to her, and she’s going to shoot it right away,” she said.

Young said defense has helped her get playing time.

“I’ve been working on it practice,” she said. “In the beginning of the season, it wasn’t very great, and if I wanted to play more, I needed it to get better. It’s been working, so I’m gonna just keep trying to play aggressive.”

Starkey agrees that she’s playing better each game.

“She’s showed up at the right time of year and played some big minutes for us,  making some big plays. I think as she continues to grow in her confidence, she’ll continue to be a contributor for us.”

Blackford’s hard fall

Blackford, the 6-2 freshman who is KSU’s leading scorer and rebounder, had 10 points and nine rebounds. 

She got tangled with an Akron player going for a rebound in the last 30 seconds and hit the floor hard. She lay on the court until referees stopped play, then lay there another 30 seconds before she was helped off the court.

“She went down pretty hard, and she was hurting there a little bit,” Starkey told Wilson on the radio. “We’ll see what the trainers say and get her evaluated.”

The battle for fourth place

The win puts Kent State in a tie with Toledo for fifth in the MAC, a half game out of fourth place. The top four teams get a first-round bye to the quarterfinals in the MAC tournament next month.

Kent State and Toledo play Saturday at about 3:30 p.m. at the M.A.C. Center. The game is the second of a doubleheader with the men, who play Ohio at 1 p.m.

The Flashes and Toledo are 6-5. Eastern Michigan is 7-5. Toledo lost at home to Ball State 60-58 on Wednesday. Eastern won at Bowling Green 70-58.

Third place is starting to look out of reach for any of those teams. Ohio and Ball State are tied at 8-3. Central Michigan continues to lead the league at 11-0.

Kent State’s overall record is 13-9. Akron is 3-8 in the MAC and 10-12 overall. Seven of its eight losses have been by eight points or fewer.

Box score

Notes

  • The Flashes held Akron to 37% shooting, the third-straight game opponents have shot below 40%. Akron was two of 18 (11%) on 3-point shots. Three games ago, Kent State opponents had been making 45% of their 3-pointers. Bowling Green, Ohio and Akron made 10 of 42 from distance — 24%.
  • Kent State assistant coach Mike McKee wasn’t on the bench because of the death of his father Tuesday. McKee has been a part of Kent State basketball for 15 years, playing for the men’s team, then being a graduate assistant and director of basketball operations for the men before becoming a women’s assistant three years ago. “This one is for the McKee family,” Starkey said.
  • Akron’s forward Jordyn Dawson, the Zips’ second-leading scorer, didn’t play. “Coaches’ decision.” according to Michael Reghi, who broadcast the game on ESPN+. (“Coaches decision” often means a suspension of some sort.)
  • Kent State has won four straight against the Akron women and six out of seven under Starkey. The teams meet again in Kent Feb. 26.

Other MAC scores

  • Eastern Michigan (7-5, 12-11) 70, Bowling Green (1-10, 8-15) 58 at BG.
  • Ball State (8-3, 16-7) 60, Toledo (6-5, 11-11) 58 at Toledo.
  • Western Michigan (5-6, 12-10) 74, Buffalo 62 at Western.
  • Northern Illinois (4-7, 8-14) 86, Miami 84 in overtime at NIU.

Central Michigan and Ohio had midweek byes.

MAC standings.

Sixth-place Flashes seek road win 11 miles away at Akron, 3-7 in MAC play

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Guard Asiah Dingle is making 45% of her shots this season, up more than six points from last year. She’s also averaging an assist more per game in about the same playing time. (File photo by KentWired’s Gina Schlegel.)

Kent State (5-5 and 6th in MAC, 12-9 overall)

at Akron (3-7 and tied for 10th, 10-11 overall)

Game is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12, at the James A. Rhodes Arena in Akron. It’s about a 20-minute drive. Address is 373 Carroll St., Akron, if you need it for GPS. Here are directions from the Akron website. including parking information.

General admission tickets are $6. Average attendance for OU women’s conference games has been 958, eighth in the MAC. Kent State home attendance is seventh in conference games at 1,200.

What’s at stake

We’ll skip the cliches on bragging rights and rivalry game.

With eight games left in the conference season, all games are important. Akron is below Kent State in the standings, in RPI and in Power Rating. The Flashes need to win to stay in contention for a top-four finish and a first-round bye in the MAC tournament.

Akron needs to start winning games in order to climb to eighth or higher in the conference. That would give it a first-round game at home in the tournament.

The Zips had one of their best non-conference seasons is recent years at 7-4. They’ve been competitive in almost every MAC game; nine of their 10 games have been decided by eight points or fewer. 

The winner of the game gets a half point in the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge, which scores head-to-head competition in all sports. Kent State leads in this year’s challenge 3-2.5. Akron has won he last four years, all by 7.5 to 6.5 scores. The Wagon Wheel itself goes to the winner of the football game between the two schools and currently lives in Kent.


REPORT CARD ON KSU’s LOSS TO OHIO: Flashes played very good defense, but Bobcats outscored them on foul shots and turnovers.


What to watch

Kent State’s defense has been good in recently games, but the Flashes need to get their offense back in gear. They’ve averaged 58 points over the last five games, never scoring 70 points. But opponents haven’t scored 70, either, and last week KSU held Bowling Green to a season-low 47 points and Ohio to 63. its lowest in MAC play.

“In the beginning of the year, I thought we were doing a really good job, averaging more points per game than we ever had,” coach Todd Starkey told the Record-Courier’s Allen Moff this week. “Then teams kind of figure you out a little bit.

“I don’t think we’re running bad offense. We’re just struggling to make shots right now. It’s nice to see our defense starting to shape up into form at the right time of the year when that needs to happen.

“If both sides of the ball at some point can finally come together, I think we have the potential to be one of the best teams in the league still. Until that happens we’re kind of stuck right there in the middle with a lot of other teams that are trying to have a little breakout here at the end of the season.”

Four Flashes average in double figures in MAC play, and a fifth, forward Lindsey Thall, is close at 9.1 Six players have led Kent in scoring this season:

Thall 32 points again Ohio State, Nila Blackford 31 against Robert Morris, Megan Carter 24 against Troy, Katie Shumate 20 against Western Michigan, Asiah Dingle 20 against Northern Illinois and Clare Kelly 20 against Hiram.

As you’d expect from its record, Akron is average or below in every statistical category. The Zips are best in defense, where they are fifth in points allowed and fifth in field-goal defense.

Akron starts three seniors and two juniors, which makes it the most experienced starting lineup in the MAC. 6-2 senior forward Haliegh Reinoehl is second in the MAC at 9.2 rebounds per game and scores 15.9. Jordyn Dawson, a 5-11 transfer from Wabash Valley College, averages 13.2 points and leads the Zips in assists and steals.

The two teams rank at the bottom in scoring in the MAC. The better defense is likely to win.

Team comparisons

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

  • RPI: Kent State 110 of 351 Division I teams. Akron 190. (RPI is based on a team’s record and schedule strength.)
  • Power rankings: Kent State 107. Akron 171. (Adds factors like margin of victory, record in recent games, injuries.)
  • Kent State away record (MAC games): 2-3. Akron home record: 2-3.
  • Scoring average: KSU last in MAC at 65.4 points per game. Akron 11th at 66.3.
  • Defensive average: KSU first at 65.3. Akron fifth at 69.3.
  • Field-goal percentage: KSU 10th at 39.9 (eighth on 3-pointers at 30.7%). Akron seventh at 41.0 (10th on 3s at 30.0%).
  • Field-goal defense: KSU first at 38.0 (last on 3s at 38.3%). Akron fifth at 40.1 (third on 3s at 28.6).
  • Free throw shooting: Kent State fifth at 70.6%. Akron seventh at 66.9.
  • Rebounding margin: KSU ninth at -2.3. Akron eighth at -2.0.
  • Turnover margin: KSU fourth at +0.8. Akron eighth at -1.7. KSU ninth in steals at 6.4. Akron sixth at 6.5.
  • Assists: Kent State last at 10.5. Akron sixth at 12.5.
  • Blocked shots: Kent State first at 4.4. Akron ninth at 1.8.

Top players

Kent State

  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (13.7 points, 7.6 rebounds per game).
  • 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (13.4 points, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals).
  • 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (11.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 41.7% three-point shooting).
  • 5-7 senior guard Megan Carter (11.1 points, 3.3 rebounds).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (9.1 points, 1.6 three-point baskets a game, first in MAC in blocked shots at 2.4 per game).

Akron

  • 6-2 senior forward Haliegh Reinoehl (15.9 points per game, second in MAC at 9.2 rebounds).
  • 5-11 junior forward Jordyn Dawson (13.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 steals.)
  • 5-4 senior guard Shaunay Edmonds (8.6 points, 1.2 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. (Others are mostly on ESPN3, which is free.) 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 Akron website during the game.

Links

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

Akron website, with links.

MAC statistics.

MAC standings.

In last 5 games, KSU defense is much better but offense has dropped way off

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Chart by the the MAC office.

Five games ago Kent State was last in the MAC in field goal defense and third in points per game. 

Today they’re first in defense and last in points per game.

It’s a crazy reversal, typified by Saturday’s game against Ohio. The Flashes held OU to 63 points, 14 points below the Bobcats’ average, and to 34% shooting, Ohio’s lowest of the year against a MAC team.

Meanwhile, Kent State’s 57 points was its third lowest of the year. and eight points below its average.

It makes for a strange report card in what was one of the Flashes’ best games of the season. Ohio is 15-7 and in second place in the MAC at 7-3. The Bobcats were a unanimous preseason choice to win the league, though Central Michigan has proven that wrong.

In the most recent five games, which are half of the MAC season so far, Kent State’s record is just 2-3. But look at the scoring numbers:

GAMES 1-5: Kent State averaged 72.6 points per game. Opponents averaged 69.8.

GAMES 6-10: Kent State averaged 58.2. Opponents averaged 60.8.

The quality of the opposition isn’t that different. The first five opponents’ combined MAC records are 24-28. The last five are 26-25.

I’m not quite sure what to make of all that. Kent State is clearly playing better defense; its games last week against Bowling Green and Ohio are clear proof to that. But it’s hard to figure what’s happened to its offense. Second-half opponents don’t have a particularly slower style of play. Kent didn’t have point guard Asiah Dingle in two games in the second five, but the Flashes split those.

I have no answers. But it is interesting. On to the report card on the Ohio game.


GAME STORY: Missed baskets, lack of foul shots hurt Flashes vs. OU


Ohio 63, Kent State 57

Score 70 points on offense: 57. As I said above, KSU’s third lowest total of the season. NOT ACHIEVED.

Hold opponent under 70: 63. Against one of the league’s best offensive teams, A MAJOR ACHIEVEMENT.

Make 40% of shots: 40.0. On the nose. But in the second half, KSU’s percentage was 29. Still, ACHIEVED.

Hold opponent under 40%: 33.9 Kent State’s third best of the season. Ohio’s fourth worst of the season. ACHIEVED.

Outscore opponent by five on free throws: Here’s the biggest reason Kent lost. Ohio was 16 of 21. Kent State two of eight. That’s the fewest foul shots the Flashes have made in a game since 2015. DEFINITELY NOT ACHIEVED.

Outscore opponent by five points off turnovers: Ohio leads the MAC in turnover margin and had seven fewer turnovers than the Flashes (17-10). Points off turnovers was closer, 18-14 Ohio. In the second half, it was 14-4 for the Bobcats. NOT ACHIEVED.

Have 14 assists: 12 on 26 baskets. The percentage is OK. In the first half, the Flashes had nine assists, which looked great. But they only had nine baskets in the second half, which doesn’t give a lot of opportunity for assists. NOT QUITE ACHIEVED.

Get 10 points from the bench: 19, thanks to Dingle off the bench (10 points) and a good game by Hannah Young (seven points). ACHIEVED.

BOTTOM LINE: Quality of play: B or B+. But it’s not a win.

Kent State statistics

Around the MAC

Four MAC teams won on the road Saturday, which shook up our “golf” standings.

Central Michigan went to 11-0 with a 99-87 victory at Miami which had won three in a row. The 99 points is the most by a MAC team in league play this season. Gabrielle Bird and Micaela Kelly each had 24 points for Central, which made 17 of 35 three-point shots. Savannah Kluesner had a career-high 35 for Miami. The game was tied at 33 at halftime, but Central scored 37 points in the third quarter.

Toledo beat Buffalo 78-62. Nakiah Black hit four 3-point baskets on her way to 21 points for the Rockets, who shot a season-best 55%. Buffalo’s loss was its third in a row and worst loss at home since 2015. Dyaisha Fair had 20 points for the Bulls.

Eastern Michigan rallied from four points down with two minutes to go to win 83-79 at Western Michigan. Sophomore guard Jenna Annecchiarico scored a career-high 31 points, making five of 10 three-point attempts. Areanna Combs had 21 for the Eagles. Breanna Mobley had 22 and Jordan Walker 21 for Western.

Northern Illinois beat Bowling Green 92-87 in overtime at BG, scoring five points in regulation’s last 41 seconds to tie the game. Courtney Woods had 32 points for NIU; Madisen Parker had 18 for Bowling Green. The Falcon’s 87 points were 40 more than they scored at Kent State on Wednesday. It was BG’s third overtime loss of the season.

Ball State held Akron to one field goal over the last 9:50 of the game to beat the Zips 60-52 in Muncie. Blake Smith led the Cardinals with 10 points. Haliegh Reinoehl had 13 for Akron. Ball State is 6-0 at home in MAC play.

BEST UPCOMING GAMES: Ball State plays at Toledo Wednesday. BSU leads the Rockets only by a game in the MAC West. Buffalo and Western Michigan, two teams that have struggled in recent weeks, play at Western.

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 (11-0, 18-4)

-2

  • Ohio (8-3, 15-7)

-1

  • Ball State (7-3, 15-7)
  • Toledo (6-4, 11-10)
  • Eastern Michigan (6-5, 11-11)

Even

  • Kent State (5-5, 12-9)

+1

  • Buffalo (4-6, 13-8)
  • Western Michigan (4-6, 11-10)
  • Northern Illinois (3-7, 7-14)

+2

  • Miami (4-7, 11-12)
  • Akron (3-7, 10-11)

+4

  • Bowling Green (1-9, 8-14)

Regular MAC standings

MAC statistics

Flashes play well at Ohio, but 20-point 2nd half and just 2 points from foul line cost them in 63-57 loss

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Katie Shumate had 15 points and 13 rebounds against Ohio. The rebounds were the most by a KSU player this season. (File photo by Nick Cammett from KSU Twitter feed.)

For Kent State, the game came down to good shots that didn’t go in. 

For Ohio, eight steals powered a strong second half.

For both teams, free throws told the story: 16 for Ohio. Two for Kent State.

The result was a 63-57 victory for second-place Ohio in Athens. Kent State led by six points at halftime but scored only 20 in the second half.

“We had so many good looks,” coach Todd Starkey said in his postgame radio interview with David Wilson on Golden Flash iHeart Radio. “We shot 19 3s, and I don’t know how many rimmed out. We had shots at the basket that rimmed out. If some of those shots go down…

“I thought we outplayed them for most of the game. We should have won.”

Kent State drops to 5-5 in the MAC and 12-9 overall. The team is sixth in the league, a game behind Toledo and a half game behind Eastern Michigan. Ohio is 8-3 in the conference and 15-7 overall.

The Flashes led 37-31 at halftime behind Katie Shumate’s 13 points. But Kent missed its first seven shots in the second half. Ohio scored off its first three baskets off of turnovers, then took the lead on two free throws. Kent State never caught up.

Ohio, which leads the MAC in turnover margin by a wide margin, actually trailed KSU 10-4 in points off turnovers in the first half. But the Bobcats outscored the Flashes 14-4 off turnovers in the second.

And there were the foul shots. Ohio made 16 of 21. Kent State made two of eight.

“Shooting only eight free throws was bewildering to me,” Starkey said. “The first thing you look at in that situation is, ‘Are we being aggressive enough?’ Well, we had 42 points in the paint,” where drives and close-in shots are more likely to draw fouls.

The number of fouls were fairly close between the two teams. Kent State had 19, Ohio 18. But fouls drawn while shooting and bonus free throws went to the Bobcats.

Kent State missed six of its eight free throws, enough to tie the game by itself. The last time the Flashes made so few foul shots was 2015, when they were one of five against Brown.

Since Starkey arrived the next season, the Flashes have been among the nation’s leaders in drawing and making foul shots. Until the last three games, they had been among MAC leaders this year. But in those games, made six of seven against Toledo, five of seven against Bowling Green and two of eight against Ohio. Opponents shot 57 in those three games, KSU 22.

Kent State’s defensive effort was among its best of the season. Ohio ranked second in the MAC in points per game; the Flashes held the Bobcats 14 points below their average.

Ohio made just 34% of its shots, almost eight points below its average and five points below Kent’s defensive average. The Bobcats made just 24% of their 3-point shots, also eight points and 16 points below KSU’s defensive average on 3-pointers. It was the second-straight game Kent State held a good 3-point shooting team below 25%. Bowling Green made 23% against the flashes on Wednesday.

“I thought we had a good game plan for them,” Starkey said, “Over the last two games we’ve showed growth defensively. Hopefully that’s a sign of more to come for us and that we can continue to build off of our defensive efforts.”

But KSU’s 57 points were its second lowest of the MAC season.

But, Starkey said: “The 57 points is deceiving. We left a 70 point game out there, no question about it.”

Kent State shot only 29% in the second half after shooting 50% in the first. The Flashes were three of 19 on 3-point shots, one of 10 in the second half. Three is a season low for KSU.

Shumate’s double-double

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Freshman guard Katie Shumate had her third game of the season in double digits in scoring and rebounding. Her 13 rebounds were the most by a Kent State player this season. She made six of 17 shots and two 3-pointers.

“She’s the type of player that could have had 20 or 25 shots,  and I probably wouldn’t have minded,” Starkey said. “That means she’s staying aggressive. She had the hot hand.”

Shumate also had four assists and a steal.

Box score

Notes

    • Nila Blackford had 10 points, seven rebounds and a block for the Flashes. Asiah Dingle, coming off the bench for the second straight game also had 10 and three assists (but six turnovers). She had seven rebounds and two steals.

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  • Sophomore Hannah Young played a career-high 27 minutes off the bench, scored seven points and had five rebounds. Lindsey Thall, who scored 19 points and had seven rebounds against Bowling Green, had just two points and two rebounds in 31 minutes. She did equal a career high with four assists.
  • Kent State outrebounded Ohio 45-38 and outscored the Bobcats 12-8 on second-chance points. But the Bobcats outscored KUS 16-1 on fast breaks, most of that coming off of turnovers. The 45 rebounds ties for second most against Division I team this season. (The Flashes had 53 against Division III Hiram.)
  • KSU outscored Ohio 42-26 in the paint. It’s the second most points in the paint KSU has scored this season against a Division I team.
  • Ohio’s Cece Hooks came into the game leading the MAC in scoring in conference games, the framework I use as being the most current. She scored 12, all in the second half, had eight rebounds and five steals. Erica Johnson, the league’s second-leading scorer, had 22, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.
  • Ohio, which got zero points from its bench in its win over Eastern Michigan Wednesday, got 16 Saturday. Kent State reserves scored 19.
  • Only Syracuse, Butler and Texas have held Ohio to fewer than 63 points this season.

Kent State travels the 11 miles to Akron Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game.

Other MAC scores

  • Toledo (6-4, 11-10) 78, Buffalo (4-6, 13-8) 62 at Buffalo.
  • Eastern Michigan (6-5, 1-11) 83, Western Michigan 79 (4-6, 11-10) at Western.
  • Central Michigan (11-0, 18-4) 99, Miami (4-7, 11-12) 87 at Miami.
  • Ball State (7-3, 15-7) 60, Akron (3-7, 10-11) 52 at Ball State.
  • Northern Illinois (3-7, 7-14) 92, Bowling Green (1-9, 8-14) 87 in overtime at BG.

MAC standings.

Flashes face 2nd-place Ohio and MAC’s top two scorers

Modkins vs. BG

Guard Mariah Modkins has started three straight games and averaged almost 20 minutes a game in MAC play. She scored five points and had four assists against Bowling Green on Wednesday. (Photo by Nick Cammett from team Twitter feed.)

Kent State (5-4 and tied for 4th in MAC, 12-8 overall)

at Ohio (7-3 and 2nd, 14-7 overall)

Game is at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at Convocation Center at Ohio University. It’s about a three-hour drive. Address is 95 Richland Ave., Athens, if you need it for GPS. Here are directions from the OU website.

General admission tickets are $5, $3 if you buy them early online. Average attendance for OU women’s conference games has been 633, 10th in the MAC. Kent State home attendance is seventh in conference games at 1,200.

What’s at stake

It’s the first game of the second half of the season for Kent State. Flashes are in contention for a first-round bye in the MAC tournament, but have a tough second-half schedule. They have to play at first-place Central Michigan and at Buffalo and Western Michigan, both teams also completing for a bye. And they play Ohio twice, starting Saturday in Athens.

Ohio was the overwhelming choice of coaches to win the conference this season. The Bobcats went 30-6 last season and have four key starters back. OU just missed the NCAA tournament and scheduled a tougher schedule to try to make it as an at-large team this year if necessary.

It didn’t work all that well. OU lost to Power Five teams Syracuse, TCU and Texas. The Bobcats also lost to Butler, always one of the country’s stronger mid-majors. They did beat Ohio State in Columbus. OU might have fared better on its Texas road trip, but guard Erica Johnson, their second leading scorer, missed both games with an injury.

In the MAC, Ohio has lost three games by a total of five points. It lost by 73-71 to Central Michigan at home on a 3-point shot with seven seconds left, lost 92-90 in overtime at Central and lost 73-72 at Western Michigan on another shot with seven seconds left.

Kent State is two games behind Ohio in the East Division and the overall standings, which determine seedings.

A win at Ohio would be a significant upset but could propel the Flashes into another strong last half to the season. Last year, KSU went 6-3 in the second round, upsetting Miami and Buffalo in Kent. Kent lost to Ohio twice by two points.

When the Flashes won the East in Starkey’s first year, they went 8-1 in the second half and beat Ohio twice. The win at Ohio was the Bobcats’ first home loss of the year and started Kent State’s run to the East title.


REPORT CARD ON KSU WIN OVER BOWLING GREEN: Good shooting, great defense made the difference.


What to watch

The teams are very much alike. The biggest difference is that Ohio has about a year’s more experience at every position and Ohio’s top players ranked about a level ahead of Kent’s in last season all-MAC teams.

Ohio has three players who average in double figures; two average about 20 points in MAC games. Kent State has four in double figures.

“They’ve got four legitimate all-conference level players,” coach Todd Starkey told KentWired’s Kathryn Rajnicek this week. “So they can beat you in so many different ways.”

All five OU starters, Starkey said, “have the ability to put up 20 points in a game.”

“It’s not a matter of if you can shut down a player or two,” he said. “It’s got to be a really balanced defensive effort.”

OU guard Cece Hooks was first-team all-MAC and defensive player of the year in the league last year. She leads the MAC in scoring in league games at 22.3 points per game and leads the conference in steals at 4.0 per game. Johnson was MAC freshman of the year last season and is second in the MAC in scoring at 21.2 points a game. She also leads Ohio in rebounding at 7.4 per game. Senior Amani Burke averages 12.3 points and junior Gabby Burris 9.9.

The Bobcats have by far the best turnover margin in the conference at plus-8.3. They forced 20.5 a game — best in the conference — and commit only 12.2 — also the best. Kent is second-lowest in turnovers made at 14.1 and fourth in margin at 1.7. This is one key thing for the game: Can Kent State take care of the ball?

Ohio is an average 3-point shooting team but shoots a ton of them — almost 26 a game. The Bobcats make 8.3 3-pointers a game.

Kent State’s biggest defensive weakness has been guarding the 3-pointer, so that’s another thing to watch.

In scoring defense and two-point defense, the Flashes rank well ahead of Ohio.

Kent State is coming off its best defensive game of the season, a 61-47 win over last-place Bowling Green. Against Ohio, BG scored 69 points and shot 49%. (The Falcons shot 32% against KSU).

So the big key to Saturday is defense.

Team comparisons

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

  • RPI: Kent State 120 of 351 Division I teams. Ohio 58. (RPI is based on a team’s record and schedule strength.)
  • Power rankings: Kent State 120. Ohio 72. (Adds factors like margin of victory, record in recent games, injuries.)
  • Kent State away record (MAC games): 2-2. Ohio home record: 4-1.
  • Scoring average: KSU 10th in MAC at 66.2 points per game. Ohio second at 78.4.
  • Defensive average: KSU first at 65.6. Ohio ninth at 71.1.
  • Field-goal percentage: KSU 11th at 39.8 (fourth on 3-pointers at 32.4%). Ohio  third at 42.2 (seventh on 3s at 32.0%).
  • Field-goal defense: KSU second at 38.5 (last on 3s at 40.4%). Ohio 10th at 34.3  (fourth on 3s at 29.6).
  • Free throw shooting: Kent State second at 72.8%. Ohio seventh at 68.2.
  • Rebounding margin: KSU 11th at -3.3. Ohio eighth at -1.9.
  • Turnover margin: KSU fourth at +1.7. Ohio first at +8.3. KSU sixth in steals at 6.8. Ohio first at 11.1.
  • Assists: Kent State last at 10.3. Ohio 11th at 10.9.
  • Blocked shots: Kent State first at 4.7. Ohio eighth at 1.8.

Top players

Kent State

  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (14.1 points, 7.7  rebounds per game).
  • 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (13.9 points, 2.4 assists, 1.4 steals).
  • 5-6 senior guard Megan Carter (12.0 points, 3.5 rebounds).
  • 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (11.5 points, 6.3  rebounds, 44.8% three-point shooting).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (9.9 points, 1.8  three-point baskets a game, first in MAC in blocked shots at 2.6 per game).

Ohio

  • 5-8 junior guard Cece Hooks (leads MAC at 22.3 points per game and with 4.0 steals, 3.9 assists, 6.4 rebounds).
  • 5-11 sophomore guard Erica Johnson (second in MAC at 21.2 points, 46.2% shooting, 42.6% 3-point shooting, 7.4 rebounds.)
  • 5-9 senior guard Amani Burke (12.2 points, 1.8 steals.)
  • 5-11 junior forward Gabby Burris (9.9 points, 6.4 rebounds).

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.

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

Live statistics will be on the Ohio website during the game.

Links

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

Ohio website, with links.

MAC statistics.

MAC standings.

Good shooting, great defense give Flashes excellent report card

Thall vs. BG

Lindsey Thall had 19 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and two assists in KSU’s 61-47 win over Bowling Green. (Photo by KentWired’s Gina Schlegel.)

The Flashes made almost 46% of their shots and held Bowling Green to making 32% of theirs. That was more than enough for a victory and one of their best report cards of the season


GAME STORY: Kent State defense smothers Falcons


 

Kent State 61, Bowling Green 47

Score 70 points on offense: 61. It was a surprisingly defensive-oriented game for two teams known more for scoring. Kent State also slowed the game down late to lessen the chances of a BG comeback. NOT ACHIEVED but with the big win, who cares?

Hold opponent under 70: 47. Kent’s best defense of the season except for against Division III Hiram. ACHIEVED IN A BIG WAY.

Make 40% of shots: 45.5. Among KSU’s best of the season. ACHIEVED.

Hold opponent under 40%: 31.8.  Again Kent State’s best of the season against Division I opposition. Bowling Green’s worst shooting of the year. ACHIEVED IN A BIG WAY.

Outscore opponent by five on free throws: Fewest free throws of the season Flashes and their opponent combined. Kent State was five of seven, BG two of five. NOT ACHIEVED but irrelevant to results.

Outscore opponent by five points off turnovers: Bowling Green scored 13 off of KSU’s 18 turnovers. Kent State had 10 off of 14 from BG. In second half, when KSU outscored Falcons 34-19, points off turnovers went to Flashes 8-4.

Have 14 assists: 13 on 25 baskets. With that percentage and 45% shooting, we can count this ACHIEVED.

Get 10 points from the bench: 18 but mostly because Asiah Dingle didn’t start but still scored 16 points in 20 minutes. ACHIEVED with an asterisk.

BOTTOM LINE: Kent State’s shooting percentage and defense were good enough to give Flashes an A-.

Kent State statistics

Around the MAC

Ohio beat Eastern Michigan 75-65 at Eastern for the league’s only road win Wednesday night. Bobcats are in second place in MAC at 7-3 and have lost those three games by a total of four points. Kent State plays at Ohio Saturday.

The Bobcats never had consecutive turnovers in the game. Sophomore guard Erica Johnson had 20 points and 10 rebounds, junior forward Gabby Burris 19 points and junior guard Cece Hooks 16. Eastern was without three of its top players — leading scorers Areanna Combs and Aaliyah Stanley and leading rebounder Autumn Hudson. Combs was out with an injury. I found nothing about Hudson, who played Saturday against Akron, or Stanley, who has missed two straight games.

Central Michigan went 10-0 in the MAC with a 66-60 victory over Northern Illinois in Mt. Pleasant. It was one of CMU’s worst conference games; the Chippewas scored 13 points below their average, shot 37%, eight below their average, and were outrebounded 52-40. They still had enough to beat NIU, which is 2-7 and 11th in the league.

Miami won its third straight, scoring a season-high in beating Toledo 92-83 in Miami. Freshman guard Peyton Scott had her second straight career-high with 28 points. Lauren Dickerson had 23 and Savannah Kluesner 21. Toledo got a career-high 31 points from guard Mariella Santucci.

Akron, Ball State, Buffalo and Western Michigan all had midweek byes.

The ‘golf’ standings

Ohio was the only team to pick up points in the “golf” standings, which give a team -1 for a road win (a “birdie”) and adds a point for a home loss (a “bogey.” A home win or road loss gets zero (“par”).

-5

  • Central Michigan (10-0, 17-4)

-2

  • Ohio (7-3, 14-7)

-1

  • Ball State (6-3, 14-7)

Even

  • Kent State (5-4, 12-8)
  • Toledo (5-4, 10-10)
  • Eastern Michigan (5-5, 10-11)
  • Buffalo (4-5, 13-7)
  • Western Michigan (4-5, 11-9)

+1

  • Miami (4-6, 11-11)

+2

  • Akron (3-6, 10-10)
  • Northern Illinois (2-7, 6-14)

+3

  • Bowling Green (1-8, 8-13)

Regular MAC standings

MAC statistics

Flashes’ defense smothers Bowling Green in 61-47 victory at M.A.C.C.

Modkins and Dingle celebrate

Mariah Modkins (5) and Asiah Dingle (3) combined to hold Bowling Green’s Madisen Parker to three shots and zero points. Parker had been the second-leading 3-point shooter in the country. (Photo by Nick Cammett from KSU Twitter feed.)

Kent State’s defense — not its strength for most of the season — looked championship caliber Wednesday.

The Flashes held Bowling Green, the second-best shooting team in the MAC, to 32% from the floor and 23% from 3-point distance in its 61-47 victory at the M.A.C. Center Wednesday. That’s:

  • 11 percentage points below Bowling Green’s average in league play.
  • BG’s second-lowest percentages of the season in both field goals and 3-point shooting.
  • Seven percentage points better than Kent State’s defensive average and 19 percentage points below its 3-point defensive average.
  • The lowest percentage a Division I opponent has shot against KSU this season, and second-lowest 3-point percentage.

Bowling Green’s 47 points was its lowest of the season. It’s the second fewest Kent State has allowed and the fewest scored against the Flashes by a Division I team. (Division III Hiram scored 36.)

The victory ended the Flashes’ first half of the MAC season at 5-4 and in a tie with Toledo for fourth place. They are 12-8 overall. Bowling Green is 1-8 in the MAC and 8-13 overall.

“Our defense was our backbone today, which was nice to see,” coach Todd Starkey said. “It hasn’t been a lot of the year.”

Bowling Green’s Madisen Parker went into the game making 47% of her 3-point attempts, second best in the country. She didn’t score. Kent State limited her to three shots, only one of them a 3-point attempt, in 32 minutes. KSU point guards Mariah Modkins and Asiah Dingle smothered Parker defensively. The plan, Starkey said, was:

Crowd her on every catch. Make sure we have our hands over the ball.”

“Mariah was our first line of defense,” the coach said. “She had one of her best defensive games since she’s been here. When Asiah came in, she picked up right where Mariah left off.”

BG forward Angela Parker had been making 60% of her field-goal attempts, best in the conference. She made only four of 11 Wednesday. Lindsey Thall, Kent’s 6-2 sophomore forward, did much of the defense on Parker.

“I had to work every single possession, just banging it against her every time, not giving up anything easy,” Thall said.

Starkey said it was a two-part effort.

“We wanted to make sure we had great ball pressure so that they couldn’t make easy entry passes,” he said. “And we talked about with Lindsey about how she was just going to have to battle all game. She did a really good job of limiting Perry’s touches.”

Thall played one of her best games on offense and defense. She led the Flashes with 19 points, her most since scoring 32 against Ohio State in November. She had seven rebounds, her second highest of the season and blocked four shots, including two of Perry’s. She added two assists.

“She played 36 minutes,” Starkey said. “She really limited Perry’s looks. She had 19 points, seven rebounds. That’s a heck of a basketball game.

Thall made three of six 3-point shots, which is her specialty. But she scored 10 of her points inside. She scored nine on close-in shots Saturday against Toledo.

“One of the things we’ve tried to do with Lindsey is to try to get her touches at different places on the court rather than just the 3-point line,” Starkey said. “Teams are dong a good job of defending her there, switching off guards on her. So we’re trying to get her touches in the paint so teams can’t do that.”

Dingle also played well on defense and offense. Back from a two-game suspension, she scored 16 points, had two assists and two steals. Dingle made seven of nine shots. That 78% is her best ever against a Division I team. (She made eight of nine against Hiram.) “She did a phenomenal job of finishing today,” Starkey said. “And at a really critical time, came up with a phenomenal offensive rebound on a scramble and stuck it back in.”

Dingle also had a spectacular defensive play when she knocked the ball away from the BG guard bringing the ball up court, then dove on the floor to push it away again.   The BG player lay on the floor as officials called a turnover for not getting the ball across half court in 10 seconds.

“We let her loose,” Starkey said. “Every now and then, if she’s not in foul trouble and we have a favorable matchup, we’ll say, ‘Asiah, go get her.’ And her eyes light up.”

And as Starkey was talking, Dingle’s eyes lit up.

Cutting the turnovers, stepping up the defense

Kent State trailed 28-27 at halftime, mostly because BG scored nine points off of the 12 turnovers the Flashes committed in the first half. Kent State barely averages 14 turnovers per game and had just seven against Toledo.

“We really focused on that at halftime,” Starkey said. “We can’t have empty possessions. So the guards did a really good job in the second half of cleaning that up.”

Kent had six turnovers in the second half and outscored the Falcons 8-4 off turnovers.

Another thing the Flashes emphasized starting the second half strong.

“We had to make sure that we didn’t come out flat the way did against Toledo,” Starkey said.

The Flashes were the opposite of flat. They outscored Bowling Green 18-4 in the third quarter, holding BG to two of 17 shooting.

Box score

The view from Bowling Green

Coach Robyn Fralick, quoted on the team’s website:

“I thought our defensive effort was really good, especially in the first half. Our third quarter was where the game was lost, so we’ve got to figure out how to fix that and move forward.”

Notes

  • Nila Blackford had a career-high 11 rebounds to lead Kent State to a 41-38 advantage. The Flashes did give up 12 offensive rebounds, something Starkey said had to be cleaned up in the second half of the season. But BG scored only two second-chance points.
  • Reserve forward Monique Smith equaled her career high with six rebounds. She also blocked a shot.
  • Kent State blocked nine shots overall, its high for the season. Besides Thall’s four, Katie Shumate blocked three. Shumate also had six rebounds and three assists.
  • Modkins had four assists, five points and two steals. Dingle and Megan Carter also had two steals.
  • Kent State outscored BG 15-4 on fast-break points.
  • Attendance was announced at 1,961, highest of the MAC season and third highest of the season.

The Flashes play three of their next four games on the road, starting Saturday afternoon at second-place Ohio.

Video highlights


2,000-POINT RECRUIT: Casey Santoro hits milestone in front KSU’s Todd Starkey, who will coach her next fall.


Other MAC scores

  • Miami (4-6, 11-11) 92, Toledo (5-4, 10-10) 83 at Miami.
  • Central Michigan (10-0, 17-4) 66, Northern Illinois (2-7, 6-14) 60 at Central.
  • Ohio (7-3, 14-7) 75, Eastern Michigan (5-5, 10-11) 65 at Eastern.
  • Western Michigan, Ball State, Buffalo and Akron had midweek byes.

MAC standings.

Last-place BG, Kent home opponent Wednesday, shoots well, allows a lot of points

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Kent State freshman forward Nila Blackford leads the team in scoring (15 points per game) and rebounding (7.3). (File photo by KentWired’s Savannah Monks.)

Bowling Green (1-7 and last in MAC, 8-12 overall)

at Kent State (4-4 and 6th in MAC, 11-8 overall)

7 p.m. Wednesday at the M.A.C. Center. General admission tickets are $5. Students are free with Kent State ID. Average home attendance for Kent State is 1,010 in MAC games, seventh in the league.

What’s at stake

A win would give Kent State the same 5-4 conference record and 12-8 overall record that it had at this point last season. The Flashes went 6-3 in the second half of MAC play, won one game in the league tournament and the WNIT and finished 20-13.

Bowling Green went an encouraging 7-5 in non-conference play but has only beaten Western Michigan in MAC play. The Falcons lost two conference games in overtime and two other games by fewer than seven points. The Falcons have beaten Kent State twice in the last two years, though both times were in Bowling Green.


REPORT CARD ON KSU LOSS TO TOLEDO: Flashes won turnover battle, but Rockets won by far more at foul line.


2,000-POINT RECRUIT: Casey Santoro hits milestone in front KSU’s Todd Starkey, who will coach her next fall.


What to watch

Kent State should get starting point guard Asiah Dingle back from a two-game suspension. She’s the Flashes’ second-leading scorer at 13.5 points per game and leads the team in assists and steals. KSU split its two games with her out of the lineup.

Bowling Green ranks second in league in field-goal and 3-point percentage. 6-2 junior forward Angela Perry leads the MAC in shooting percentage at 56.5 Madisen Parker, a 5-9 junior guard, is second in the league in 3-point percentage at 45.0. Sophomore guard Katie Hempfling is third in the conference in assists at 5.0 per game; BG leads the league in assists.

But the Falcons are last in the conference in scoring defense, 10th in field-goal defense, 11th in rebounding margin and 10th in turnover margin.

Kent State is last in field-goal percentage and third in turnover margin. The Flashes are fourth in field-goal defense but last in 3-point defense.

The game is likely to come down as to which team plays better defense; it hasn’t been a strength for either.

Team comparisons

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

  • RPI: Kent State 113 of 351 Division I teams. Bowling Green 231. (RPI is based on a team’s record and schedule strength.)
  • Power rankings: Kent State 128. Bowling Green 250. (Adds factors like margin of victory, record in recent games, injuries.)
  • Kent State home record (MAC games): 2-2. Bowling Green away record: 0-3.
  • Scoring average: KSU 11th in MAC at 67.0 points per game. Bowling Green seventh at 68.1.
  • Defensive average: KSU fourth at 67.9. Bowling Green last at 75.8.
  • Field-goal percentage: KSU last at 39.2 (sixth on 3-pointers at 32.7%). Bowling Green second at 43.1 (second on 3s at 33.5%).
  • Field-goal defense: KSU fourth at 39.4 (last on 3s at 42.1%). Bowling Green 10th at 45.3 (fourth on 3s at 29.6).
  • Free throw shooting: Kent State second at 72.9%. Bowling Green seventh at 67.5.
  • Rebounding margin: KSU last at -4.1. Bowling Green 11th at -3.6.
  • Turnover margin: KSU third at +2.4. Bowling Green 10th at -3.1. KSU sixth in steals at 6.9. Bowling Green last at 5.9.
  • Assists: Kent State last at 10.0. Bowling Green first at 16.1.
  • Blocked shots: Kent State second at 4.1. Bowling Green last at 1.4.

Top players

Kent State

  • 6-2 freshman forward Nila Blackford (15.0 points, 7.3 rebounds per game).
  • 5-4 sophomore guard Asiah Dingle (13.5 points, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals).
  • 5-6 senior guard Megan Carter (13.4 points, 4.0 rebounds).
  • 5-11 freshman guard Katie Shumate (12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 48.0% three-point shooting).
  • 6-2 sophomore forward Lindsey Thall (8.8 points, 1.6 three-point baskets a game, first in MAC in blocked shots at 2.4 per game).

Bowling Green

  • 6-2 junior forward Angela Perry (14.1 points, leads MAC in field-goal percentage at 56.5)
  • 5-9 junior guard Madisen Parker (13.0 points, first in MAC in 3-point baskets per game at 3.4, second in 3-point percentage at 45.0.)
  • 5-9 sophomore guard Katie Hempfling (9.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, third in MAC in assists at 5.0). points, 1.7 assists.)

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. (Others are mostly on ESPN3, which is free.) This link takes you to to the game, where you can sign up. David Wilson is the play-by-play announcer with former KSU player Amanda Sape doing commentary.

Audio starts at about 6:45 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.

Bowling Green website, with links.

MAC statistics.

MAC standings.