Flashes Unable to Overcome Slow Start Against Notre Dame

Written by on March 23, 2024

After winning the MAC Tournament the Kent State women’s basketball team earned their first berth in March Madness since 2002. The Flashes were placed as a No. 15 seed and given the tall task of going on the road to South Bend to take on the No. 2 seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Kent State was able to grab a 4-2 lead which then became 5-4 shortly after. The Flashes then went ice cold and surrendered 18 straight points to go down 22-5. They were able to score the quarter’s final five points, entering the second quarter down a dozen. 

Though they only scored ten points, Kent was able to find good looks, but the shots simply would not go down.

The offense woke up in the second quarter as Kent State was able to score 20. However, by halftime, the Irish lead had grown to 19. 

The Flashes did in fact play solid defense, but Notre Dame shot the ball very well on their way to scoring 27 in the second quarter. Every time Kent State appeared to be fighting their way back into the game, the Irish would go on a run to extend the lead.

The Flashes scored the first five points of the third quarter, cutting the lead to 14, but a 7-0 Notre Dame run pushed the lead up to 21. 

Kent State did get themselves back into the game by ending the quarter on an 11-3 run to put the score at 59-46. The Flashes won the quarter, outscored the Irish 16-10, but missed opportunities and turnovers prevented them from further trimming the lead.

After falling down 18 points early in the fourth, Kent State knocked down back-to-back threes, cutting the lead to 12, which was as close they had been since the beginning of the second quarter.

They battled all the way to the finish, but in the end, the Irish were just a little too fast and advanced to the second round, winning by a score of 81-67. 

In her 143rd and final collegiate game, fifth-year senior Katie Shumate scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. She played all of her 143 games with the Golden Flashes, tying a school record.

Though they lost, the Flashes played hard for the whole 40 minutes. The loss is not due to lack of effort. They simply could not make shots in the first quarter and could not force Notre Dame to miss in the second quarter.

After being down 19 at halftime, shots started to fall and Notre Dame looked human, resulting in Kent State outscored the Irish 37-32 in the second half. 

The trip to March Madness was short-lived, but the Flashes have nothing to be ashamed of. This team was able to get the program back on top of the MAC and back into March Madness for the first time since 2002. 

After taking over a program that went 6-23 in the prior season, head coach Todd Starkey has done an excellent job of rebuilding the women’s team. 

The Flashes will lose a few players to graduation, most notably Katie Shumate, but the future is still bright. 

Sophomore point guard Dionna Gray did an amazing job of filling in for Corynne Hauser, who is also just a sophomore, when Hauser tore her ACL on Feb. 7. 

Jenna Batsch, who took a big leap this season, still has a year of eligibility remaining and freshman Janae Tyler, who scored 18 points against the Irish, will continue to be dominant in the paint for the next few years. Todd Starkey may also look to the transfer portal to add talent to his roster.

It is safe to say that this March Madness appearance will most likely not be the only one for the Kent State women’s basketball program under Coach Starkey.


Photo Courtesy: Yasmeen Matthews

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