Despite a huge victory against No. 19 UCLA Friday, the Kent State women’s basketball team saw its first loss of the season to the University of Massachusetts Saturday.
The Flashes lost to UMass (7-0) 72-64 in the semifinal round of the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament in Florida.
“UMass is a good team, and it's 7-0 for a reason,” coach Todd Starkey said. “We needed to be tougher. Games plans were different, and we did a much better job executing a game plan Friday than we did Saturday.”
Kent State is now 4-1 on the season.
The Flashes played a strong first two quarters. Senior forward Lindsey Thall started off the first quarter with her first three-pointer of the night, and Kent State remained ahead until the Minutewomen tied the game at 6-6. From 8-8, UMass took over to go ahead 15-13.
After two free throws, junior forward Nila Blackford tied the game, giving KSU a 19-15 lead into the second quarter.
UMass caught up in the second quarter, tying the game at 19-19. The Flashes stayed ahead until the Minutewomen tied it up again at 26-26.
But Kent State scored nine of the next 10 points and went into halftime with a strong 35-27 lead.
KSU also shot its best field goal percentage of the night in the second quarter at 43.8 percent. UMass had its worst performance in the field, shooting 18.2 percent.
Coming off of a strong first half where the Flashes shot 40 percent from the field, the team shot a dismal 22.9 percent for the entire second half.
UMass shot 27.8 percent in the field in the first half and 55.2 percent in the second.
“Offensively, we didn’t execute in the second half very well,” Starkey said. “UMass played a little bit harder and got to make the hustle plays a little better than we did down the stretch.”
The Flashes scored only 13 of the 34 points total in the third quarter.
UMass came back strong in the beginning, scoring eight consecutive points to tie the game at 35-35. The quarter went back-and-forth until UMass took a 45-40 lead.
But Kent caught up to 48-48 to end the period.
After a tied fourth quarter at 54-54, the Minutewomen kept ahead the rest of the game.
UMass only allowed the Flashes to get five points behind them at 59-54, the closest score of the set. The Flashes’ largest deficit of the entire night was 72-61 at the end of the fourth quarter.
Sophomore guard Casey Santoro ended the match with a three-pointer, but UMass still took the night 72-64.
UMass played its best offense in the fourth quarter, shooting 64.3 percent in the field. The Minutewomen held the Flashes to their lowest percentage with 23.8 percent in the field.
Thall was the only Kent player to score in the double-digits with 22 points. She also had four three-pointers and nine rebounds.
“She was the only player who really was focused on what we needed,” Starkey said. “She did a pretty good job of executing and knocking down shots.”
Thall also led the team in points Friday, scoring 20 with seven rebounds and five three-pointers.
“She’s had a really good two days down here,” Starkey said. “But I’m not surprised. She’s one heck of a player.”
Junior guard Katie Shumate and Santoro were next in overall points with eight.
The Flashes play for third place against Penn State Sunday to close out the tournament.
Starkey said his team needs to have “a short term memory” when going into the final tournament game.
“Penn State is going to feel sorry for us because we lost Saturday,” Starkey said. “We have to be able to turn around. We need to execute our game plan and play more focused and together.”
Isabella Schreck is a reporter. Contact her at email@example.com.