Kent State Women’s Basketball Captures First MAC Championship Since 2002

Written by on March 16, 2024

After Buffalo took down No. 1 Toledo in the first semifinal, Kent State handled No. 2 Ball State in the second semifinal, preventing the top two seeded teams from making the MAC Championship Game.

Kent State entered the game as the favorite, being seeded at No. 3 and having beaten No. 4 Buffalo twice in the regular season.

This championship game appearance was the fifth for Buffalo in the last eight tournaments, while the Flashes had not appeared in the game since 2006.

The Bulls grabbed a basket on the opening possession but went on a scoreless streak until the half-minute mark of the quarter.

While Buffalo had their scoring struggles, the Flashes scored nine straight and eventually had a 16-7 lead late in the opening quarter. 

Down 18-9, the Bulls finished the quarter strong, making a pair of three-pointers to cut the lead to three before giving up another basket to make the score 20-15 entering the second quarter.

Kent State started the second quarter very similar to how Buffalo started the first quarter, scoring on the opening possession, but then going cold. 

They gave nine straight points to fall behind 24-22 with 4:33 left in the half. The run was broken when the refs made a questionable call which favored Kent and resulted in game-tying free throws.

The Flashes’ offense continued to be ineffective, turning the ball over multiple times in the next few minutes.

Their defense did a good job to keep them in it, only allowing the lead to grow to four at halftime.

Though they gave up 19 in the second quarter, the Kent State defense played well. Buffalo was simply shooting the ball well. The Bulls shot the three-ball especially well, making six of ten attempts in the first half.

On the offensive end, the Flashes offense had a difficult time creating open shots and even when they did, they had a tough time getting them to fall.

Buffalo did not appear to cool down during halftime, hitting a three-pointer on the opening possession of the second half. 

Kent State’s offensive adjustments at halftime proved to be successful, as an 11-0 run put Kent State back up four early in the third quarter.

The two teams stayed even over the next few minutes, but an 10-0 run by the Flashes gave them a 11-point lead, their largest of the day. After giving up a basket, a deep three put Kent State up by a dozen entering the fourth quarter.

The Flashes doubled up the Bulls in the third quarter, outscoring them 26-13. They were just one quarter away from earning a MAC Championship and a spot in March Madness.

Kent State kept rolling and scored five straight point to start the fourth quarter. The 17-point lead was their largest of the tournament.

An 11-2 run by the Bulls gave them life and brought the score to 66-58 with 4:19 to go. The Flashes did not allow the lead to shrink any further, scoring nine straight to go up 75-58 with just over a minute left. 

Kent State would win the by a score of 78-60, winning the conference and punching their ticket to March Madness. Fifth-year senior and Ohio native Katie Shumate was named MAC Tournament MVP.

The Flashes will know their first-round opponent tomorrow when the March Madness bracket is released. 

They will be no higher than a 14-seed. When asked about being an underdog in the first round, head coach Todd Starkey said, “Yeah we love that. We love the underdog rule.” Starkey also pointed out the difficult road opponents his team had to face and believes that those environments will help his team.


Photo courtesy: Yasmeen Matthews

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