After the first quarter, Kent State had a 16-12 lead over the University of Michigan. By the end of the second quarter, they were down 31-25. Then it was 62-39 by the end of the third. They ended up losing 88-53 to the first of three Big Ten schools they will play this season.
“We just got beat by a bigger and more athletic team,” coach Todd Starkey said. “I think a lot of our youth showed up. When you play against teams that are that good, and that big, your mistakes are magnified.”
Kent State’s starting lineup was made up of two freshmen, two sophomores and one senior. Michigan’s starting lineup consisted of two sophomores, one junior and two seniors.
“Our quick shots, our careless turnover and our lack of communication in transition defense was really exposed in a big way in the second half,” Starkey said.
Michigan improved their shooting percentage every quarter, going from making 35.71 percent of its field goal attempts in the first quarter to making 75 percent in the fourth. Kent State never shot better than its first quarter shooting percentage, when it shot 38.89 percent.
“Obviously that’s tough to come back from, if they are shooting at such a high percentage,” freshman forward Nila Blackford said. “We definitely could have done a better job defensively, with regards to allowing them to get the shots that they got.”
Blackford picked up two fouls in the first half. Sophomore forward Lindsey Thall and sophomore guard Asiah Dingle also had two fouls in the first half and senior guard Megan Carter had three.
“There’s some positives, from the first half, you can draw,” Starkey said. “We got into significant foul trouble in the first half and I like the way we fought. But in the second half they just decided ‘we’re just going to throw it inside and see if they can stop us.’ And we had trouble with that.”
This was the first loss of the season for Kent State and the teams biggest loss since Nov. 25, 2016 when they loss 84-42 to Baylor University.
“This is not a game that’s defining,” Blackford said. “We still have the rest of the season to go. I think it’s something we can definitely learn from and continue to get better.”
Kent State plays Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday in Akron. On Friday, Akron beat Purdue Fort Wayne 64-53.
“We’re going to be fine,” Starkey said. “We just need to put it behind us and move on pretty quickly.”
Contact Gina Butkovich at email@example.com