The game was tied 75-75 with 4.3 seconds left on the clock when senior guard Megan Carter received a return pass. With 0.2 seconds left on the clock, Carter got a shot up over the defenders. It went in and Kent State beat Duquesne 77-75.
“I wanted to play it safe. I did not want to turn the ball over, so I played it safe and got it to Ali (Poole) and then got it right back,” Carter said. “I knew I had some time left and I drove it to the basket, a little floater, and it went in.”
Carter had 12 points in the season opener, with eight of them coming in the second half, despite injuring her thumb partway through the game.
“I thought she was done,” coach Todd Starkey said. “For her to come back in the game after getting hurt just shows her toughness.”
Duquesne grabbed the lead early into the first quarter and held onto it for most of the game. They led by 13 points with a little over eight minutes left in the second quarter.
“We came out slow,” Starkey said. “We played really porous defense in the first half against a very veteran team that runs their stuff well. I was pleased with the fact that we didn’t give in in the first half. The fact that we were only down seven at half time was probably a bonus. We didn’t do a whole lot right in the first half and we were only down seven.”
Kent State only made a little over 35 percent of its field goal attempts in the first half. Duquesne made 50 percent.
“Definitely a lot of things to work on, defensively and offensively,” Carter said. “I love the way we regrouped in the second half. We didn’t let mistakes get the best of us and we kept playing. That’s what I’m most proud of.”
In the second half, the Flashes made 53.85 percent of its field goal attempts and five of its six three-point attempts, including two each from sophomore forward Lindsey Thall and freshman guard Katie Shumate.
Thall had 22 points, including 16 points in the first half before fouling out with less than four minutes in the game.
“She kept us in the game,” Starkey said. “If she doesn’t play the way she did in those 30 minutes, the last five minutes isn’t possible.”
The sophomores and freshmen accounted for a little more than 84 percent of the points scored against Duquesne.
“We didn’t let (the freshmen) get down on themselves,” Carter said. “We told them to play through it and that we got their backs.”
In the first half, the three freshmen, Shumate, guard Clare Kelly and forward Nila Blackford, had a collective eight points and five rebounds. In the second half, they had 23 points and ten rebounds.
“Shumate and Blackford both had big, big contributions in the second half and were much better defensively,” Starkey said.
With 14 points, Shumate lead the team in second-half points.
“I thought she did a good job of picking her spots,” Starkey said. “She didn’t force a lot of shots. In fact, I want her to be a little bit more aggressive. She only got 11 shots. I’d love to have her over 15 every game.”
Blackford had nine points and seven rebounds in the second half.
“That rebound that Nila got at the end was big,” Starkey said. “Even though she missed the two free throws, if they get that rebound and put back it’s a tie game and it changes the whole dynamic. So huge rebound there from her.”
This is the first time Kent State has beaten Duquesne since 2001.
“Our first five games are tough,” Starkey said. “We feel fortunate to get out of here with a win and we’ll regroup and prepare for YSU starting on the bus ride home.”
Kent State University plays at Youngstown State University on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Contact Gina Butkovich at firstname.lastname@example.org.