Flashes sneak past Bowling Green on Carter’s game-winner

Redshirt freshman guard Megan Carter looks away after making a behind the back pass against Bowling Green State University on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 at the M.A.C. Center. Carter hit the game winning shot to lead the Flashes over the Falcons, 80-78.

Henry Palattella

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated the game against Miami (OH University would occur Tuesday. The game occurred Wednesday, Feb. 1.

The Kent State women’s basketball team added yet another chapter to its storybook season Saturday, as redshirt freshman Megan Carter’s jumper with 2.2 seconds left gave the Flashes (11-10, 5-4 Mid-American Conference) an 80-78 win over Bowling Green State University (5-16, 1-8). 

Carter — who only played in three games last season due to an injury — pulled off a quick crossover at the top of the key with five seconds remaining, and went on to perform pull-up jumper in her defender’s face that hit nothing but net. The move sent the small but raucous crowd in the M.A.C. Center into a frenzy.

Bowling Green was able to inbound the ball on its ensuing possession, but sophomore Carly Santoro threw up a desperation three at the buzzer that missed, and guaranteed the Flashes a victory.

“We knew (Bowling Green was) going to try to take (senior) Larissa (Lurken) away,” head coach Todd Starkey said of the Flashes’ last play. “They did a very good job of defending Larissa and denying her the basketball.

Starkey said Carter was capable of knocking down Bowling Green’s shot because “she makes that shot everyday in practice.”

“She’s got a great pull-up shot off the dribble,” he said. “When she pulled up at the elbow, I thought ‘There’s a 70-75 percent chance that’s going in.” 

Carter — who finished the game with 13 points — was more than confident in her abilities to make the shot, even in crunch time.

“I was coming off the screen and suddenly got open (and thought), ‘That’s my shot,’” Carter said after the game. “I knew I was going to make it … I had hit game-winners in high school, but none were as sweet as this one. I like this one a lot better.”

Lurken had yet another stellar game for the Flashes, finishing with 31 points. Lurken made her presence known on the free-throw line as well, going 19-20 from the stripe.

“She’s the best in the country (at making free throws), (and) teams know that,” Starkey said of Lurken’s ability at the free-throw line. “You have to play up on her or she’ll knock down shots. She’s really developed a great shot fake and drive … She’s done a really good at the free-throw line.”

Overall, the Flashes won the battle at the line, going 26-31 on free-throws compared to Bowling Green’s 15-20. The Flashes also forced three Bowling Green players to foul out. The Falcons committed 32 fouls as a team. 

The Flashes were able to jump out to an early 17-12 lead after the first quarter, but neither team seemed totally in rhythm, as Kent State only went 4-15 (28 percent) from the field in the first quarter, while the Falcons were 4-14 (26 percent).

Bowling Green took a 22-21 lead with 5:25 left in the second quarter on a three-pointer from their own Santora, but the Flashes took over after that, going on a 15-2 run that ended the half and led to them holding a 36-24 lead going into the break.

The Falcons rebounded in a big way in the third quarter, however, as they went on several big runs and outscored Kent State 30-20 in the quarter and were only down 56-54 after three.

Their offensive attack was spearheaded by Santoro, who scored eight of her 32 points in the third frame. Santoro was also the leader of the Falcons three-point barrage, going 4-7 (57 percent ) from three in the game. The Falcons as a team were 9-18 (50 percent) from behind the arc as a team.

“I think you saw the evidence of (sophomore) Alexa Golden being out,” Starkey said, in regards to Bowling Green’s three-point shooting. “She’s probably our best perimeter defender. That hurt us a little bit. Hopefully she’ll be back (on Tuesday) for Miami. We’re going to see how’s she doing.”

The Flashes win keeps them in a tie with the University at Buffalo for second place in the MAC East. The Bulls beat Western Michigan University 62-47 Saturday afternoon.

Kent State now has 11 wins on the season, which equals the team’s total number of wins over the past two seasons. 

“The past is the past,” Carter said. “We’re moving forward in the right direction.” 

The Flashes will be back in action Wednesday night when they welcome Miami (OH) to the MAC Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Henry Palattella is the sports editor, contact him at [email protected]