CMU uses late surge to down Flashes in first-place battle

Kent State freshman guard Asiah Dingle dribbles down the court during a game against Oakland University Nov. 18, 2018. Kent State won the game 75-65.

Gina Butkovich

Central Michigan used a strong second half and 20 points from Micaela Kelly to beat Kent State 82-75 in a battle of first place place teams.

“You play a really good basketball team, your margin for error is small and we made far too many errors in this game to come out on the winning side,” Kent State coach Todd Starkey said after the game.

The first quarter saw Kent State (10-6, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) play the great defense they’re known for, forcing Central Michigan (13-1, 4-1 MAC) to make mistakes. A scoring run by the Flashes partway through the quarter helped them take control of the game by a 14-6 margin. Nothing came easy for the Chippewas throughout the quarter and they were often forced to use the entire shot clock without being able to get a good look. The quarter ended with the Flashes on top, 19-13.

The Flashes spent the second quarter struggling to score, with their large lead quickly disappearing. They were outscored 20-17 but managed to hold onto the lead for the whole quarter,  thanks in part to nine points from freshman guard Asiah Dingle and five points from junior guard Megan Carter. The first half ended with the Flashes clinging to a 36-33 lead.

“We came out a lot better than we did at Ohio the first half but we didn’t finish well,” Carter said. 

Throughout the quarter Kent State managed to answer every time Central Michigan tried to make a scoring run. However, the Flashes weren’t able to sustain a scoring run of their own. Carter’s play helped the Flashes stay in the game, with her eight points being part of the reason the Flashes were able to go into the fourth quarter only down 57-55.

Kent State was unable to keep up with Central Michigan in the fourth quarter, with Kelly and sophomore forward Kyra Brussell scoring nine points each for the Chippewas.

“Kelly basically took over the game in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t do anything about it,” Starkey said. “Kelly and Brussell beat us in the fourth quarter, there other players didn’t.”

Kent State was not able to answer with any sustainable scoring of their own, and found themselves struggling to just stay within striking distance, with junior guard Ali Poole leading the scoring in the fourth with 7 points.

“Usually the fourth quarter is our quarter and we didn’t play like it at the end,” freshman guard Asiah Dingle said.

The fourth half ended with Kent State being outscored 25-20, and Central Michigan hanging onto the 82-75 win.  

Going into their next game, Kent State is preparing to play just as hard as they have these last two games.

“There’s no easy game in this league, I don’t care what record you look at,” Starkey said. “Everybody still has a shot at first, but we could also finish last.”

Kent State plays Ball State (6-11 overall, 1-4 MAC) on Wednesday in the Worthen Arena at 7 p.m.

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