Carter’s 21 points leads Flashes to first postseason win since 1996

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Kent State guard Asiah Dingle watches her teammate Megan Carter’s shot to the basket during the first half against Buffalo. 

Gina Butkovich

The last time the Kent State Women’s basketball team won a postseason game, Independence Day was the biggest movie of the year, Craig Kilborn was the host of the Daily Show, Carol Cartwright was the president of Kent State University and Bob Lindsay was Kent State’s women’s basketball coach.

On Thursday, the team broke that 23-year-old postseason losing streak, beating Green Bay 64-59 in the first round of the WNIT. It was also the Flashes first ever WNIT win.

 

“Our program hasn’t won a postseason game since 1996,” coach Todd Starkey said. “Any win in the postseason is monumental.”

The Flashes found out they were playing Green Bay late Monday night, giving them one day to practice at home. By 4 a.m. Wednesday they were on a bus headed to the airport to fly to Wisconsin.

“To win on the road was a tall order,” Starkey said. “The travel to get here and to prepare in that short of time. A lot of credit goes to our staff. It’s been a team effort all the way around, staff and players.”

Green Bay came in allowing an average of 51 points per game. The Flashes scored 25 points in the fourth quarter, after being down by 13 points with less than 3 minutes to go in the third quarter.

“I think we came out in the second half and the third quarter didn’t really go our way and the game was starting to get away from us,” senior guard Alexa Golden said. “We knew the fourth quarter had to be the best quarter we played all year, so we locked up defensively and we talked more. We got back to the basics.”

With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Green Bay senior forward Carly Mohns made a jump shot, giving the Phoenix an eight point lead. Four seconds later, junior guard Megan Carter made two free throws. 

“I just got to the basket,” Carter said. “I knew I wasn’t shooting well, so I just wanted to get to the free throw line and get those mechanics down so I could translate that into a regular shot.”

Seven of Carter’s 10 points in the fourth quarter came from free throws.

“Obviously the free point line helped us a little bit down the stretch,” Starkey said.

Carter’s three non-free throw points came from a three-pointer she made with four minutes left on the clock. It gave the Flashes the lead for the first time since the end of the second quarter.

With one minute left, senior forward Merissa Barber-Smith scored her only two points of the night, also from two free throw shots.

“She’s not necessarily the best shooter, but she has improved her confidence at the free point line,” Starkey said. “Her only two points were the two we needed the most.”

Barber-Smith came in shooting 44 percent from the line on the season.

“When I walked up to the free throw line I was imagining myself in practice again, while we were doing pressure free throws where we had to run if we didn’t make them,” Barber-Smith said. “For those, I always smile to releases the dark energy. I walked up to the free throw line, started smiling and was like ‘alright, this isn’t so bad.’”

The Flashes plan to take tonight to celebrate this win before moving on to the next game.

“It’s a big deal, and something we are going to savor for the rest of this day,” Golden said. “Tomorrow we have to get back to work and try to get another W.”

Kent State plays Butler University at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Indianapolis. Butler has a 22-9 overall record, and won the first round of the WNIT 89-72 against Northeastern.

“We’re alive to play again,” Starkey said. “We will get on the bus and head down there and come up with a game plan. Prepare the best we can and see if we can’t keep this going as long as possible. It’s a tall order, and it’s a challenge, but this time of year everything’s a challenge and you’re just trying to enjoy the ride too.”

 Gina Butkovich is a sports reporter. Contact her at [email protected]