KENT — Dominant shot blockers rarely spend time on the opposite end of the floor consistently stroking 3-pointers.
Lindsey Thall combines those two contrasting skills as well as virtually anyone in the country.
Kent State's 6-foot-2 freshman forward swatted eight shots, one off the school and Mid-American Conference records, and buried three 3-pointers while helping the Golden Flashes snap a four-game losing streak with a 73-58 victory over rival Akron on Saturday afternoon at the M.A.C. Center.
Thall, who finished with 11 points, has now sunk a team-high 32 3-pointers this season, and has 20 blocked shots in eight MAC games. Her previous collegiate high for blocked shots was four.
“It's exciting to still be able to block shots at the next level, where everyone's so much taller,” Thall said. “It's always been in my box of tools, but I think this may be my coming-out party [for shot blocking].”
You won't see much light under the former Strongsville High School star's feet when she's blocking a shot or draining a 3.
“Lindsey plays great position defense, and plays angles very well,” KSU coach Todd Starkey said. “She makes sure she's second to leave the floor, and makes them play through her hands. She's got excellent timing defensively. It's nice to have her interior defensive ability, and her ability to also spread the floor and stretch defenses. She's continuing to develop. We're glad she's a freshman.”
Thall swatted seven shots in the middle two quarters, when the Golden Flashes (11-8, 4-4 MAC) outscored the Zips (12-7, 3-5) 38-27 to take control.
“Being in help defense, when I see one of our guards get beat then it's on me [to keep opponents from scoring],” Thall said. “That's when I rotate over and help them out. Having long arms helps me out.”
UA was still hanging around late when Thall made a 3-pointer to effectively close out Saturday's game, giving Kent State a 13-point lead with just over a minute left. She wound up 3-for-7 from long range while scoring 11 points, and also grabbed five rebounds.
Junior guard Megan Carter paced the Flashes offensively with a season-high 26 points, and also led KSU with six rebounds and four assists. Carter scored 20 or more for the fifth time in the last six games, and drained 4-of-5 3-pointers.
A Kent State team that shot 7-of-45 on 3-pointers in its past two outings made 11-of-22 against the Zips.
“We shot the ball a lot this week. I've been in the gym like 24/7, getting my shot back underneath me,” said Carter, whose Flashes had not played since last Saturday. “We needed to get back in the gym and refocus on shooting the ball, just take some time to let the dust settle a little and get back to playing Kent State basketball.”
Senior guard Alexa Golden finished with 15 points (2-of-3 3-pointers), six rebounds, three assists and three steals, and freshman point guard Asiah Dingle added 13 points for the Flashes.
The Zips trailed by just one after scoring 23 points in the first quarter, but were held to 35 the rest of the way. They shot 62 percent from the floor in the first quarter, and 25 percent thereafter.
UA graduate student guard Megan Sefcik, who entered the game averaging 17.5 points per game, was held to 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting from the field. She was 0-for-8 from beyond the arc, where the Zips were 5-for-21 as a team.
“We really pride ourselves on our defense, but in the past couple of games we haven't been able to put a full game together,” Thall said. “We really just got mad at ourselves the past four games. We came out here and had to play a full game, offense and defense combined.”
Junior guard Shaunay Edmonds led UA with 15 points, followed by junior forward Haliegh Reinoehl with 12 points and six rebounds.