Exhausted Flashes can’t keep up with CMU, lose second straight

In a game in which the Kent State women’s basketball team (7-5, 6-3 Mid-American Conference) had trailed by as much as 23, the Flashes found themselves tied with Central Michigan University (13-6, 11-4 MAC) late in the fourth quarter.

But CMU would go on devastating a run, scoring the final 13 points of the contest, and Kent State would lose 84-71 in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

“I was proud of our team for the fight,” coach Todd Starkey said. “They’re giving everything they have. … [The players] are really tired.”

Kent State has played five games in just 11 days, with games on Monday and Wednesday of this week going into overtime.

The strain of that schedule appeared to already be taking a toll on Wednesday, when Kent lost to Bowling Green State University, and today against CMU it seemed as though the Flashes were totally gassed after their run to tie the game at 71.

Though it proved to be a last gasp, the second half rally to tie the game was impressive considering Kent State trailed almost the entirety of the game.

“[During the rally] we were just playing more solid basketball,” Starkey said. “We got more dialed in; I thought [my team] got frustrated with the way the game started and they didn’t wanna quit.”

That tying run ended with back-to-back three-pointers from sophomore guards Clare Kelly and Katie Shumate, who were the Flashes’ two leading scorers.

Shumate led Kent State with 17 points and added six rebounds, while Kelly scored 14 along with two rebounds and two assists. Kelly hit four of Kent State’s 11 three-pointers.

The only other Flash to score in double digits was sophomore forward Nila Blackford, who scored 13 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for her fourth consecutive double-double.

Shumate, Kelly and Blackford all saw their minutes reduced against CMU due to the amount of basketball they have played in the last 11 days and the toll it is taking on them.

“We can’t play our best players the minutes that they usually do because they are just exhausted,” Starkey said. “More players in the rotation can help with that, but when you can’t play your best players their usual minutes … it has an effect.”

Starkey pointed to junior forward Lindsay Thall as an example of a player he was still trying to play too much. Thall came into the game averaging 11.6 points per game, but scored only four and did not hit any of her nine field goal attempts in her team-high 36 minutes today. 

“Lindsey Thall, I need to rest desperately,” Starkey said. “She is just exhausted, but I can’t afford to take her off the court.”

Thall did find other ways to contribute, notching nine rebounds and two blocks.

Central Michigan had two massive performances from guards Micaela Kelly and Molly Davis, who combined to score 67 of their team’s 84 points.

Starkey said his team made Kelly and Davis look even better with poor defense, but that they are two of the best guards in all of college basketball.

Kent State will finally see something of a break as the Flashes have four days before their next game, when they will travel to Kalamazoo, Michigan to take on Western Michigan University on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Then Kent State will finish its current road trip with back-to-back games at Northern Illinois University on Feb. 20 and 21.

“We have gotta do our best going forward with what we are given,” Starkey said. “Hopefully we’ll have enough left in the tank to get some wins down the stretch here and get to the [MAC] Tournament.”

Owen MacMillan is a sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]