With 1:39 to go in the game, sophomore guard Hannah Young grabbed her sixth offensive rebound and dished it out to sophomore forward Lindsey Thall who drained the clutch triple to put Kent State up 54-53 against rival University of Akron.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and get that rebound,” Young said. “Then I saw Lindsey [Thall] open and I was like I gotta give it to her because she’s on fire right now.”
The Flashes (13-9, 6-5 MAC) would only give up two more points in the contest to beat the Zips (10-12, 3-8 MAC) 60-55 Wednesday in Akron.
“I was really pleased with our defense,” coach Todd Starkey said. “Defense for some reason all of a sudden has become our calling card.”
Kent State shot 41 percent from the field overall and just 23 percent from behind the three-point arc.
“We gotta make some shots,” Starkey said. “We were 3- from three. You start making some shots, don’t have careless turnovers and don’t go 11-21 from the free throw line, then maybe it’s not so hard. But I’m really pleased with us finding a way to get the win.”
The Flashes turned the ball over 18 times, with 11 of those coming in the first half and seven of those coming in just the first quarter of play.
“We were making some passes that didn’t need to be made and we weren’t catching the ball,” Starkey said. “We had some really careless ball-handling errors where we were driving into pinch points with multiple defenders.”
Kent State had three players in double digit scoring: sophomore guard Asiah Dingle with 15 points, freshman guard Katie Shumate with 12 points and freshman forward Nila Blackford with 10 points.
Dingle shot 6-7 from the field and had four of the Flashes’ seven steals in the contest.
“I just tried to get that energy going because we were getting down on ourselves,” Dingle said.
Defensively, Thall had five blocks in the game and continues to inch closer to that 100 block mark of her career.
Kent State held Akron to scoring just 10 points in the fourth quarter and played some great defense to solidify the win.
“Obviously great to come out with that win, but defense once again saves the day for us,” Starkey said.
With the win Wednesday, the Flashes improved to 54-16 all-time against Akron.
“It’s a great thing for our student athletes,” Starkey said. “For Akron and Kent State student athletes to be part of a rivalry that’s this intense, and this big, it’s a privilege.”
Kent State will be back in action at 3:30 on Saturday for a rematch against the University of Toledo (11-11, 6-5 MAC) at home.
Kathryn Rajnicek is a sports reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.