The Kent State women’s basketball team was not outscored by more than five in any one quarter, but Bowling Green State University steadily built a large lead.
The Flashes lost 82-65 in the Stroh Center, dropping their second in a row after a three-game win streak.
“We gave what we were able to give,” coach Todd Starkey said. “But we certainly could have played better. We didn’t play a great defensive game.”
The bright spot for Kent State was a pair of breakout performances from freshmen.
Freshman guard Casey Santoro scored a team-high 16 points while shooting 45 percent from the field.
Santoro also led the Flashes in assists with five and minutes with 37, and grabbed five rebounds.
Fellow freshman Lexi Jackson played less than half Santoro’s minutes, but she still managed to score a career-high.
The center scored 10 points while shooting 2-3 from three point range and had four rebounds in just 15 minutes on the court.
The freshmen had to step up in the place of KSU’s usual stars, as sophomore guards Clare Kelly and Katie Shumate did not play.
“Neither one of them was prepared to play, and that made us really thin in the back court,” Starkey said.
Kelly and Shumate are two of Kent State’s best perimeter defenders, and in their absence BG was extremely effective shooting from the outside.
The Falcons shot 13-23 from beyond the three point arc, compared to Kent’s 10-28.
Several of Kent’s top players also saw their minutes limited, including junior guard Mariah Modkins, junior forward Lindsay Thall and sophomore forward Nila Blackford.
Starkey said that he limited their minutes because of how many games Kent has played in the last month.
“Our job as coaches is to try and make those decisions about what’s important,” Starkey said. “Is it more important to try and go all out to try and beat BG at the expense of wearing your players out even more?”
In the minutes she did play, Blackford struggled shooting the ball, scoring just four points, but did grab seven rebounds, as much as anyone else on the team.
Also with seven rebounds was junior guard Hannah Young, who played her most complete game of the season. Four of Young’s rebounds were offensive boards, a team high, and she also had 10 points, three assists and two steals.
Young started to experience leg cramps though, and could not finish the game.
Thall was Kent’s second leading scorer, finishing with 12 points, four rebounds, an assist and a block.
As the Mid-American Conference tournament approaches, the Flashes will try to get their players healthy as they face one last game at home. Kent State is set to host the University of Akron on Saturday, March 6 at 2 p.m.
Owen MacMillan is a sports editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.