Flashes fend off late run from Toledo

Kent State women’s basketball team led the University of Toledo by 15 going into the fourth quarter, but the Flashes had to fight off an explosive comeback by Toledo at the end of the game.

Toledo went on an 11-0 run early in the fourth, and would outscore Kent State 21-10 over the course of the quarter but it was not enough, and the Flashes held on to win 61-57.

It was a game of runs throughout, as Kent State would have a 13-0 run in the second quarter and 12-0 run in the third. The Flashes held Toledo to just 17 points between the second and third quarters.

Toledo getting hot late was almost enough to cost Kent State the game, but the Flashes’ superior size and rebounding proved too much, as Kent outrebounded their opponents 48-28.

“Our rebounding total was what carried us through,” coach Todd Starkey said.”Even when they were putting a run on us in the fourth quarter.”

Kent State was led by sophomore forward Nila Blackford with 21 points and 15 rebounds. She had three turnovers but shot 8-14 (57.1 percent) from the field in 30 minutes on the court en route to her second consecutive double-double.

Blackford did all of that as something of a present to herself, as today’s game fell on her birthday.

“[Blackford] was just being herself, and it was a great birthday gift for her,” Starkey said. “She just played with energy and effort. She had a great nose for the ball and some of the rebounds she got were just toughness rebounds.”

Only one other player reached double digits, as junior guard Mariah Modkins scored 10 points while adding three assists and three steals. 

Freshman guard Casey Santoro continued to emerge as an important part of Kent State’s offense, following up her 14 point performance against Ohio University, with nine points and four rebounds. Santoro shot 33.3 percent from the field and was perfect from the free-throw line.

The defensive game with a heavy focus on interior play was a significant departure from the Flashes shoot-out win over Ohio which saw KSU score a program-high 14 three-pointers. Kent State found a way to win despite shooting just 4-20 from beyond the arc, with no player netting more than one three.

Kent State using its size to win a defensive matchup shows the versatility of this year’s Kent squad. 

“Our defense has continued to get better,” Starkey said. “We still have some deficiencies that we have got to get worked out, but our rebounding and defensive side of the ball has gotten significantly better the last few days.”

Blackford was followed by junior forward Lindsay Thall’s seven rebounds, while Thall added seven points and a team-high six assists. Junior center Linsey Marchese, a transfer from Indiana University, had six rebounds and hit her only attempt from the field.

This is the Flashes second win in a row after starting the season with two loses against Ohio State and Saint Francis University (Pa.), with both wins coming in Mid-American Conference play.

Kent State now stands at 2-2 overall and 2-0 in MAC play, placing the Flashes in first place in the conference.

“I definitely had every expectation that we are capable of being 2-0,” Starkey said. “We have proven over the last five years that we can compete with anybody in the league and I don’t think this year is any different.”

The Flashes’ next scheduled game is not until Monday, Dec. 21 against Duquesne University.  The game will be played at the M.A.C. Center with tipoff at 2 p.m.

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

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Hi, I’m Lauren Sasala, a senior journalism student from Toledo. I’m also the editor in chief of The Kent Stater and KentWired this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important news about Kent State and the Kent community. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.