Flashes stymie late Western Michigan run in close victory

Megan+Carter+drives+against+Western+Michigan+in+February+2019.

Megan Carter drives against Western Michigan in February 2019.

Gina Butkovich

The Kent State women’s basketball took a 16 point lead into halftime but proceeded to struggle with their shooting and focus. The Flashes were able to get some late defensive stops and were able to hang on for a 55-51 win.

“We still haven’t put four good quarters together yet,” coach Todd Starkey said. “I’m still waiting for us to be able to do that.”

A strong start for Kent State made an easy win look imminent. The Flashes played an aggressive game, resulting in 25 rebounds and 19 points from turnovers in the first half.

“In the first quarter we just got out and we ran and that’s our game plan every game, is to get downhill,” senior guard Alexa Golden said,

Kent State finished the first quarter minutes with a 20-7 lead, which helped them head into the locker room leading by a sizable margin. 

“We had a good first half,” Starkey said. “We were getting downhill. Defensively we were good, and we were making shots.”

Scoring dropped off in the second half, as did the Flashes defense and communication on the floor.

“If you’re not making shots it affects everything, especially with a young team like us,” Starkey said. “We lost our composure a little bit. We lost our focus, that was the biggest thing.

The lack of focus lead to Western Michigan outscoring the Flashes in both the third and fourth quarter.

“They amped up the pressure a bit, which we expected, we just didn’t handle it well,” junior guard Megan Carter said. “We can’t take our foot off the pedal, especially in the MAC.”

What had been at one point a 19-point lead for Kent State turn into a nail biter in the final quarter as Western Michigan’s Deja Wimby made two foul shots with 12 seconds left that cut the Kent State lead to two. Carter made a free throw for Kent State a few seconds later, but her second free throw shot rolled out of the hoop, leaving Kent State with only a two-point lead.

“Seeing the first one go down, I was confident and then just seeing the second one rim out, it hit me in the heart a little bit,” Carter said.

Western Michigan junior guard Kamrin Reed got an open look from three with eight seconds left, but her shot missed wide left. The rebound fell into the hands of freshman Lindsey Thall who knocked down two free throws to secure the Flashes win.

“We dodged a bullet there, they got a really good look at a three,” Starkey said. “Credit to (Western Michigan), they kept coming back, but we got to play better than that all the way through the game.”

They play next at Buffalo on Saturday on 1 p.m.

“We have a lot to improve on if we’re going to have a chance to win up there,” Starkey said of Buffalo. “We’ve got a few days to prepare for that trip up there. It’s a tough task, but every road game in the league is a tough task.”

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