Over the past two season, Kent State has built a reputation for punching above their weight. Here’s what Rock M’s Karen Steger had to say about the Golden Flashes, who won 21 games last season and gave LSU a little trouble earlier this season:
The MAC team has three wins over Power 5 teams the last two seasons, including Oklahoma State (21-12, NCAA team) last season and #19 UCLA & Penn State in 2021-22.
The Golden Flashes built up that reputation once again on Saturday night. After surviving a scare against Tennessee Tech on Friday, Mizzou couldn’t survive another close game against a scrappy mid-major opponent, as they fell to Kent State 67-64 in their second game at the Daytona Beach Classic.
It was a rocky start for the Tigers on both ends of the floor. Defensively, miscommunications and a lack of resistance in the post led to a handful of easy baskets for KSU, as the Golden Flashes started the game 5/8 from inside the arc. On offense, Mizzou couldn’t find much rhythm, as they committed five turnovers in the first five minutes of action. Kent State led by as much as 12 in the opening period and finished it leading 21-12.
The second quarter saw Mizzou get back on track. After Mama Dembele converted a tough layup through contact, Hayley Frank went on an 8-2 run by herself to cut Kent State’s lead to three. The Tigers did a wonderful job of creating and exploiting mismatches in the post, which was a big reason why Frank was able to get going on offense.
After KSU’s Corynn Hauser knocked down a three, Frank and Grace Slaughter went on a 9-2 run to give Mizzou their first lead of the game with 4:11 left in the quarter. After that, however, both teams went cold, as a two-pointer by KSU’s Mikala Morris was the only basket between either team in the final 4:11. The Golden Flashes led 32-31 at halftime.
Despite the cold finish to the quarter — the Tigers missed six of their final seven shots of the second period — one statistic jumped out from MU’s bounce-back quarter: they didn’t commit a single turnover.
The third quarter saw both teams struggle to hit shots. Despite both teams generating quality looks from both inside and outside the arc, KSU and Mizzou started a combined 6/20 from the field (3/10 each). Both teams endured ice-cold shooting spells, but the Tigers were able to find slightly more success than the Golden Flashes. Both teams finished the quarter shooting 6/17 from the field, but Mizzou hit one more three-pointer and two more free throws.
And once again, the Tigers didn’t commit a turnover in the quarter. The black and gold led 49-47 after three.
The fourth quarter saw both teams trade scoring runs throughout. It opened with The Hayley Frank Show, as the graduate scored the first six points of the quarter to push Mizzou’s lead to eight. After KSU’s Bridget Dunn hit back-to-back threes, Ashton Judd scored five straight points to bring Mizzou’s lead back to seven. KSU countered with a 10-0 scoring run that was punctuated by three straight baskets by Morris. The turnover bug also reappeared, as the Tigers committed four turnovers in the period.
The game was within one possession over the final couple of minutes. Both teams went stagnant on offense, and it led to Mizzou being down by one with a minute left to play. After an offensive possession that saw the Tigers generate multiple extra possessions, Frank collected a missed three and drew a foul on the ensuing shot. She made both free throws to put Mizzou up one.
On KSU’s next offensive possession, Hauser got the ball on the left baseline, drove to the basket and converted the layup to put the Golden Flashes up by one. On Mizzou’s ensuing offensive possession, Dembele got a solid look at the basket, but couldn’t convert the right-handed layup. After a scrum for the loose ball, KSU’s Katie Shumate recovered and got fouled with 0.3 seconds left. She made two free throws to put the Golden Flashes up three, and a last-gasp three by Abby Feit fell short.
Frank finished with 30 points. Judd scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half. For everyone else, shooting was a struggle; everyone without the last names “Frank” and “Judd” shot a combined 8/29 (27.6%). For KSU, Morris finished with 18 points, and Hauser finished with 17 points.
The Tigers don’t play again until next Thursday, when they travel to Charlottesville to battle Virginia (4-1) at 4 p.m. in the ACC-SEC Challenge.