Kent State’s women’s basketball team (17-11, 9-10 MAC) lost its final road game of the season 69-60 against Bowling Green State University (15-13, 10-9 MAC) Wednesday.
“I was proud of our team’s fight,” coach Todd Starkey said on the Kent State Radio Postgame Show. “I thought we played hard. I thought Bowling Green played really hard too, but made a few more shots than us.”
The loss sets up a showdown between Ohio University and Kent State on Saturday for the last spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament next week in Cleveland. The winner of Saturday’s contest will clinch the last spot and advance to the tournament. BGSU clinched its spot in the tournament with Wednesday’s win.
The Flashes got off to a rough start shooting 33.3 percent from the field to score 14 points in the first quarter while the Falcons scored 16 points on 41.7 percent shooting in the first quarter.
Kent State’s offense started heating up in the second quarter as the team shot 50 percent from the field to score 17 points. However, the Flashes defense gave up 21 points on 60 percent shooting for Bowling Green in the second quarter. KSU found itself down 37-31 at the half.
The Flashes defense made up some ground in the third quarter scoring 19 points on 53.3 percent shooting compared to the Falcons 17 points on 50 percent shooting. Kent State was down by only four points heading into the final 10 minutes.
KSU’s offense struggled in the final quarter as the team scored only 10 points on 30.8 percent shooting and missed all six three-point attempts in the quarter. Bowling Green scored 14 points on 31.3 percent shooting to secure the 69-60 victory.
Overall, the Flashes shot 42.1 percent from the field and 28 percent from behind the three-point line.
“I thought at times we were doing some really nice things,” Starkey said. “We gave up some threes in transition that really hurt us. We kind of got to that spot where we were down five, down six, down four, down five, down six. We couldn’t quite get over the top there to take the lead and then they hit a couple big shots on us that really hurt.”
Leading the way for Kent State was senior forward Lindsey Thall with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting overall and 4-of-7 from behind the three-point line.
“I thought Lindsey Thall had a great game, really was cooking,” Starkey said. “We were trying to play through her, but their balance in scoring really hurt us.”
Senior guard Hannah Young added 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting before going down with an apparent ankle injury late in the game.
Bowling Green shot 45.5 percent overall and 31.6 percent from behind the three-point line.
Leading the way for the Falcons was freshman guard/forward Jocelyn Tate with 19 points, sophomore guard Nyla Hampton with 15 points, freshman guard Amy Velasco with 13 points and junior guard Elissa Brett with 11 points.
The Falcons shot 76.5 percent on 13-of-17 attempts from the free throw line while Kent shot 62.5 percent on 5-of-8 attempts from the free-throw stripe.
The Flashes outrebounded Bowling Green 35-32, and junior forward Nila Blackford grabbed a team high six rebounds for KSU while Brett grabbed nine rebounds for the Falcons.
Kent State turned the ball over 19 times which resulted in eight Bowling Green points. Bowling Green turned the ball over 12 times which resulted in seven Kent State points. Hampton stole the ball five times for the Falcons while freshman forward Bridget Dunn stole the ball four times for the Flashes.
“This sets up a really big game for us on Saturday at home against Ohio for a chance to go to Cleveland,” Starkey said. “This time of year is tough. Love these kids. They fought hard.”
Saturday’s regular season finale will be against Ohio University (14-12, 8-9, MAC) at 1 p.m. in Kent. The winner of Saturday’s game clinches the last spot in next week’s MAC Tournament.
Kathryn Rajnicek is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]