Women’s basketball ends regular season with a win but misses out on MAC Tournament


Matthew Brown

Kent State Senior Mariah Modkins dribbles the ball down the court during the game against University at Buffalo on Feb. 26, 2022.

Kathryn Rajnicek, Reporter

Kent State’s women’s basketball team (18-11 overall, 10-10 Mid-American Conference) closed out the regular season with a 59-50 win over Ohio University (15-13, 9-10 MAC) in Kent Saturday.

“Obviously a tremendous win for us,” coach Todd Starkey said. “Everybody’s thinking about all the tiebreaker scenarios and do we have a chance of getting to Cleveland. We did what was in our control. We won today. We don’t have a losing record in the league. Really proud of the way they played today, especially for Mariah [Modkins] to find a way to get her a win in her last game on this court was really big. It’s something she’ll always remember. So, I’m really proud of that.”

Unfortunately, due to the uneven number of games played tiebreaker rules in the Mid-American Conference, the Flashes will not be playing in next week’s conference tournament in Cleveland.

Saturday’s win marked Starkey’s 100th win at Kent State.

Early in the first quarter of play, senior forward Lindsey Thall broke the all-time three-point field goals made record by sinking the 213th three-pointer of her career.

“It means a lot,” Thall said. “Over the years just working hard at shooting in the gym and stuff, so it kind of paid off. But that’s all due to my teammates just getting me open. I’ll cause passes, assists, whatever, but it’s mostly due to them and just the position I’m able to get in in a game.”

The Flashes got off to a solid offensive start scoring 20 points on 31.6 percent shooting and nailed four three-pointers on 36.4 percent from behind the three-point line. Kent State’s defense got off to a strong start holding the Bobcats to 12 points on 31.3 percent shooting overall and 40 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.

KSU’s offense slowed slightly in the second quarter scoring 16 points on 30.8 percent shooting and making only one three-pointer on 12.8 percent shooting from behind the three-point line. Ohio found some offensive success as the team scored 18 points on 42.9 percent shooting and 37.5 percent shooting from behind the three-point line. The Flashes took a 36-30 lead to the locker room at halftime.

In the third quarter, both teams struggled mightily offensively. The Flashes scored just six points on 12.5 percent shooting and 10 percent shooting from behind the three-point line. The Bobcats scored eight points on 25 percent shooting and 22.2 percent shooting from behind the three-point line. Kent State took a 42-38 lead into the final 10 minutes of play.

“It was physical, it was two desperate teams,” Starkey said. “They fought hard, and we fought hard. It was a physical game, and I’m proud of our players for not backing down from that. They stepped to that and played through it and continued to do tough things and embrace that.”

The Flashes offense rebounded in the fourth quarter scoring 17 points on 36.4 percent shooting and 50 percent shooting. Kent State’s defense held the Bobcats to 12 fourth quarter points on 16 percent shooting and zero percent shooting from behind the three point line to secure a 59-50 win.

“I thought our defense was phenomenal,” Starkey said. “I thought they did a really good job of listening to the game plan and really doing a good job of making Ohio take tough shots.”

Overall, KSU shot 27.1 percent from the field and 27 percent from behind the three-point line.

“We made just enough shots, a couple of big threes in key moments to seal the win for us,” Starkey said.

Leading the way for the Flashes was junior guard Katie Shumate with 12 points, sophomore guard Casey Santoro with 11 points and Thall and freshman forward Bridget Dunn each with nine points.

The Bobcats shot 26.9 percent overall, 22.6 percent from behind the three-point line and 38.9 percent from the free-throw line.

“They have some really good individual players and we just had to have each other’s backs and help in our gaps,” Thall said. “I think we did a really good job of that and rotating and scrambling in the game.”

Leading the way for Ohio was freshman guard Yaya Felder with 20 points, redshirt junior Erica Johnson with 12 points and senior guard Cece Hooks with eight points.

Hooks normally averages 23 points per game, but the Flashes held her to just eight points. Hooks went 0-for-11 from the free-throw line in the contest.

“It’s a tough situation to be in for a player like her [Hooks],” Starkey said. “She’s the all-time leading scorer in MAC history. I told their staff before the game that no matter what happens in this game, I still win because I don’t have to coach against her anymore. She’s been a phenomenal player. At times, unguardable.”

Kent State outrebounded the Bobcats 51-41. Leading the way for the Flashes in rebounding were Thall and senior guard Hannah Young with eight rebounds each. For Ohio, Johnson grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.

“First half we did a phenomenal job of keeping them off the offensive glass,” Starkey said. “Second half, they were like flying out of nowhere. I don’t even know where they were coming from, but they were battling.”

The Flashes turned the ball over 17 times resulting in 17 Bobcat points. Felder stole the ball four times for Ohio. Ohio turned the ball over 10 times resulting in eight Kent State points. Thall and senior guard Mariah Modkins each stole the ball two times for the Flashes.

Saturday’s game marked the last home game for Modkins as she announced she would not be returning for her extra year of eligibility. Modkins averaged 3.1 points and 1.2 assists per game in her four-year career at Kent State. She nailed a key three-pointer in the game to seal the win for the Flashes Saturday.

“Whether this was our last game or not, this is my last year,” Modkins said. “But the possibility that this could be my last game, yeah I knew that, so it was good to go out on a win if it was the last game. But if it wasn’t I’m ready to keep going. It’s my last year, so excited that we won today.”

With Kent State missing out on the conference tournament, it is uncertain whether the team will be selected to play in the WNIT or if Saturday’s game was the last of the 2021-2022 campaign.

“[For the] WNIT we actually have a great resume,” Starkey said. “Coming into today’s game, we had the third highest net in the conference. We were sitting right outside of the top 100, I think we were 104. We’re 18-11 and we don’t have a losing record in our conference. We beat UCLA when they were number 19 in the country. We beat Penn State. So, we got two Power Five wins.”

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