Women’s basketball tops Central Michigan, remains undefeated in February


Lillie Leasure

Sophomore guard on Kent’s women’s basketball team, Casey Santoro, dribbling down the court on Wed. Feb. 2, 2022 against Central Michigan university.

Kathryn Rajnicek Reporter

For the fourth time in eight days, Kent State’s women’s basketball team (14-7, 6-6 Mid-American Conference) was victorious. It knocked off Central Michigan University (4-18, 2-11 MAC) for the second time this season by a final score of 78-67 Wednesday.

“They found a way to win and that’s what you have to do on the road,” coach Todd Starkey said on the Kent State Radio Postgame show. “It’s the first time I’ve ever won up here, so I’m pleased with the outcome. We were a little sloppy, but when we needed to tighten the screws, we did a good job defensively and offensively down the stretch.”

The win puts the Flashes in a three-team tie for sixth place in the MAC. The top eight teams make the conference tournament in Cleveland next month. The loss drops Central Michigan to last place in the conference standings.

Kent State got off to a nice start scoring 15 points on 50 percent shooting in the first quarter and holding the Chippewas to just seven first quarter points on 20 percent shooting.

Despite shooting just 37.5 percent from the field in the second quarter, the Flashes scored 20 points and took a 35-26 lead to the locker room at halftime.

Kent’s offensive success continued in the third quarter as the team scored 22 points on 81.8 percent from the field in the quarter. Central Michigan scored 17 points in the third on 42.9 percent shooting. KSU increased its lead to 14 at the end of the third.

The Flashes were outscored 24-21 in the fourth as the Chippewas strung some three-point shots together to try to make a late game run.

“I really think our team was drained,” Starkey said. “I mean, it was our fourth game in eight days and you could really tell mentally and physically they were really tired.”

Overall, Kent State shot 51.8 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from behind the three-point line. Central Michigan shot 39.3 percent overall and 45.5 percent from three-point range.

The Flashes’ scoring was led by junior forward Nila Blackford and freshman forward Bridget Dunn each with 16 points, senior guard Mariah Modkins with 11 points and four assists and sophomore guard Casey Santoro with 11 points and four assists. In total, eight different players scored for the Flashes in the contest.

Modkins shot 3-of-5 from behind the three point line, and junior guard Clare Kelly got the start in place of senior guard Hannah Young who did not play and scored nine points on the evening.

“Mariah [Modkins] hit a couple big threes that were really important, especially with a late shot clock with one of them,” Starkey said. 

Four of the seven players that dressed for Central Michigan scored in double figures: freshman guard Hannah Knoll with 20 points, senior Jahari Smith with 13 points, freshman guard Karrington Gordon with 11 points and freshman guard Lisa Tesson with 10 points.

“This was a tough one,” Starkey said. “We had to coach all the way through it, they had to play all the way through it. Credit to Central Michigan, they only dressed seven players and they fought all the way to the end.”

Kent State won the rebounding battle 32-30 and Blackford grabbed a team-high nine rebounds for the Flashes while Smith grabbed a team-high nine rebounds for the Chippewas.

The Flashes scored 25 points off of 17 Central Michigan turnovers while the Chippewas converted 15 points on 14 Kent State turnovers.

“It’s great to come to Mount Pleasant and get a win,” Starkey said.

Kent State will be back in action against Ball State University (14-7, 7-4 MAC), which is in third, Saturday at 1 p.m. in Kent for the Flashes Play 4 Kay game.

“It’s another quick turnaround,” Starkey said. “We have a five hour drive back home, then we’ll give them tomorrow off, then we have one day of prep against maybe the hottest team in the league in Ball State, who’s coming off a week of rest. So, we’re taking it one step at a time, but really pleased with the four game winning streak and we’ve got a really tough one coming up on Saturday.”

Kathryn Rajnicek is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]