Flashes can’t overcome slow start in loss to Buffalo

Gina Butkovich

The Kent State women’s basketball team doesn’t know how to quit, something that was very apparent in their 75-66 loss to Buffalo on Saturday.

“I like the fight of this team,” coach Todd Starkey said. “I like how they’re a pretty resilient bunch. At the end of the day we aren’t an easy out, even when we aren’t playing well.”

The Flashes struggled with scoring in the first half, scoring only eight points in the first quarter, six of which came from junior guard Megan Carter. Overall, Kent State shot 8-of-27 from the field attempts, an effort that paled in comparison to Buffalo’s 13-for-37 mark.

“When you’re starting to two point guards that are freshmen, just them trying to find a rhythm and get consistency has been difficult for us,” Starkey said. “I thought we came out a little bit passive and you can’t do that obviously against Buffalo, they’re just seasoned veterans. You’ve got one of the top two players in the league in Dillard, and obviously she played like the best player in the league today.”  

Buffalo’s senior guard Cierra Dillard scored 14 points in the first half.

“Our goal was to make her be a little bit of a saturation shooter, and make her take a lot of contested, tough shots,” assistant coach Fran Recchia said about Dillard in her postgame radio interview. “Overall, I thought our one-on-one defense on her was pretty good.”

Dillard wasn’t the only Buffalo player with more than 10 points in the first half, as senior forward Courtney Wilkins came away with 13 points.

Overall, Buffalo scored 41 points in the first half, 18 of which points came of Flashes’ turnovers.

“It wasn’t just our point guards that were turning it over,” Starkey said. “Everyone had costly turnovers in the first half. Second half, we did much better at taking care of the basketball.”

In the second half, the Flashes cut down the number of points Buffalo scored off turnovers to 10. The number of fast break points Buffalo got also dropped, from 17 to eight.

“It’s pretty clear to me that our turnovers and offensive second chance points we gave up in the first half is what cost us the game because in the second half I thought we did a really good job of outplaying them,” Starkey said.

At the beginning of the third quarter, the Flashes were down by 20. They fought back with a ten point run, and ended the third quarter with Buffalo leading 59-51. Kent State kept the momentum in the fourth quarter and held the Bulls scoreless in  the first four minutes of the fourth, allowing the Flashes to get within four points of tying.

Kent State was not, however, able to stop Dillard; she scored 17 points in the second half, bringing her game total up to 31 and effectively ending any scoring run the Flashes attempted to make.

“Obviously she hit some pretty big ones, she took 15 threes,” Starkey said about Dillard. “31 points on 25 field goal attempts is pretty good at the end of the day.”

Despite shooting 15-of-29 attempted two pointers in the second half, the Flashes were unable to win.

“It says a lot about our team and our resilience and our fight to kind of come back and not get down on ourselves,” Recchia said. “Different people stepped up. I’m really proud of our fight, I just really wish we could find a way to put four quarters together, which we will, by the end of the season.”

The Flashes play at Eastern Michigan on Wednesday, whom they beat to in January by a score of 71-64.

“It comes down to us. We have to play the way we are capable of,” Starkey said. “When we play the level we are capable of, we have either been right in games or we have won them. ”  

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