KSU Women's Basketball Huddle

Members of the Kent State women's basketball team huddle up during a game. 

Kent State women’s basketball team (4-0) got its first win in its first ever matchup against No. 19 UCLA (3-1) by a final score of 75-69 in the opening round of the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament in Florida.

“Against a team like UCLA, you can’t be predictable,” coach Todd Starkey said. “If you’re predictable defensively and offensively that’s a type of team that’s going to pick you apart. So we wanted to switch up defenses. We probably played five different defenses today, switched it up a number of different times.”

The win marks Starkey’s first against a Pac-12 opponent and his first against a school from a Power 5 conference.

“I thought we did a really good job of forcing tough shots,” Starkey said on the Kent State Radio Network postgame show. “Our defensive rotations were really good, and we did a really good job of keeping them off the offensive glass.”

The Flashes got off to a slow start in the first quarter finding themselves down by as many as nine points, but rallied back to cut the Bruins lead to two at the end of the quarter.

Kent State found offensive success in the second quarter by going on a 14-4 run and outscoring UCLA 19-10 in the quarter. KSU only allowed three UCLA field goals in the second quarter and held the Bruins to just 23.1 percent shooting in the quarter.

The Flashes shot a perfect 5-of-5 from three-point range and shot 53.8% overall in the second quarter and only turned the ball over once in the entire first half. The Flashes took a 39-32 lead to the locker room at halftime.

The Bruins came storming back in the third quarter outscoring the Flashes 20-9 and held KSU to just 30 percent shooting in the quarter.

“[UCLA] played really physical in the third quarter, but I thought we did a good job of answering that in the second half of the third quarter.”

Similar to the second quarter, Kent State played well in the fourth quarter on the offensive and defensive ends. The Flashes shot 70 percent from the field in the fourth compared to UCLA’s 24 and outscored the Bruins 27-17 in the quarter.

“We forced some tough shots and sometimes they’re going to go in,” Starkey said. “Charisma Osborne hit some really high difficulty level shots.”

Overall, the Flashes shot 50 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from the three-point line compared to the Bruins 35.7 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point range.

“Defensively, I thought we did a great job of keeping them off the glass there down the stretch,” Starkey said. “We really executed offensively well.”

Leading the way for the Flashes was senior forward Lindsey Thall with 20 points including five three-pointers and seven rebounds.

“I felt pretty good,” Thall said in the FloHoops postgame interview. “My teammates got me on open spots, and I was just able to connect today. Kudos to them for finding me when I was open.”

Along with Thall, four other Flashes scored in double-figures: junior guard Katie Shumate with 17 points and seven rebounds, sophomore guard Casey Santoro with 14 points and four rebounds, junior forward Nila Blackford with 11 points and eight rebounds and senior guard Hannah Young with 10 points and three rebounds.

“I thought Casey and Hannah played phenomenal the whole game,” Starkey said. "And everybody contributed that played, so it was really exciting to see that.”

The Bruins had three players in double-figures: junior guard Charisma Osborne with 21 points and six rebounds, graduate student guard Jaelynn Penn with 16 points and eight rebounds and graduate student Natalie Chou with 12 points and two rebounds.

Kent State outrebounded UCLA 35-33 and turned the ball over 11 times accounting for seven UCLA points.

“Every time we would get into a huddle we were like ‘Look this is a big team, but that’s okay,’” Young said on the Kent State Golden Flashes Radio postgame show. “If we play in our game, if we stay controlled and play solid defense we are going to be fine. That’s what happened today.”

Next up, the Flashes will take on University of Massachusetts (6-0) in the tournament semifinal round at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Kathryn Rajnicek is a reporter. Contact her at krajnice@kent.edu

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