Women’s basketball clinches first holiday tournament in over a decade

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The Kent State women’s basketball players hold the Christmas Classic Trophy Nov. 27. The team won the title after defeating Quinnipiac and Southern Illinois.

Kyle Kuchta , Reporter

For the first time in 12 years, the Kent State women’s basketball team won its holiday tournament Sunday. The program defeated Quinnipiac and Southern Illinois in the Christmas City Classic in Bethlehem, Penn.

“It’s another gutsy win over a very talented team,” coach Todd Starkey said. “I’m really proud of our team’s toughness.”

Saturday, the Flashes won 58-55. Sunday, they won 72-66. Kent State is now 4-2 on the season. Quinnipiac is 3-3, and Southern Illinois is 1-5.

Graduate student Lindsey Thall was named tournament MVP after leading her team in scoring for both games. She led in 3-pointers Saturday with two and Sunday with four.

“That’s why she’s the MVP because she really carried us on our shoulders in a lot of ways,” Starkey said.

Thall, who is the program’s all-time 3-pointer leader, is tied for third in the Mid-American Conference in 3-pointers with 13 on the season.

Win 1, starting off down

Saturday, the Flashes started their game against Quinnipiac down by nine points with 2:32 left in the first quarter. The Bobcats were up 16-11 by the end of the period. Kent State had shot 3-of-13 from the field. Quinnipiac shot 5-of-12. Kent State had a rough start to begin the game going 3-13 from the field as Quinnipiac went 7-12.

Kent State went 5-for-12 from the field in the second quarter. Junior guard Casey Santoro’s jumper with 4 seconds left on the clock tied the game 24-24 by the half. Quinnipiac went 4-13 from the field and 0-4 from the 3-point range.

The Flashes had the lead from 9:00 in the third quarter until the end of the game. They shot their best behind the arc all day with 62.50%.

Quinnipiac and KSU both shot 11 points in the fourth quarter. Thall went 8-10 on free throws and led the team with 18 points.

Quinnipiac senior forward Cur’Tiera Haywood led the Bobcats with 13 points. Kent State went 16-49 from the field and 7-33 from 3PT range along with out rebounding Quinnipiac by two.

Win 2 with a shaky fourth quarter

Kent State dominated the first three quarters of Sunday’s game against Southern Illinois.

Thall made 3-of-4 of her attempted 3-pointers in the first quarter.

The Flashes led only 12-11 by the end of the period.

With 1:36 left until halftime, Kent State took a nine-point lead to enter the locker room up 32-25.

The Flashes played their most dominant quarter in the third as they pulled away to go up 20 with 45 seconds left in the period. They were winning 49-29.

In the fourth quarter, Southern Illinois outscored KSU 32 to 23. The Salukis cut the deficit down to six with 2:32 left to go.

“It was such a team effort to finish it out against a really tough Southern Illinois team. It’s gonna continue to get better as the season goes on,” Starkey said.

Thall led her team again with 20 points. Santoro scored 15.

Tyranny Brown scored a team-best 15 points for Southern Illinois.

Kent State went 21-51 from the field and 10-22 from three. The Flashes went 20-27 from the line. Southern Illinois went 8-9.

Southern Illinois scored 20 points off turnovers and outscored the Flashes in the paint by 12 points.

Finally back at home 

The Flashes will be back in the M.A.C Center Sunday after two weeks of away games.

They play St. Bonaventure, which is 4-2, at 2 p.m. The Bonnies are on a three-game losing streak.

Their leading scorer is senior forward I’yanna Lops, who has totaled 71 points this season. Junior guard-forward Maddie Dziezgowski leads in 3-pointers with 12.

“The events down the stretch when we were in the last two to three minutes in the game, I thought we did a really good job of controlling tempo and pace and really playing with composure and plug and play,” Starkey said. “You gotta manage those situations down the stretch, and I thought we did a good job of managing that.”

Kyle Kuchta is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]