First, we must give credit to Kent State for their 59-58 win against the University of Washington last night: with the win, they move to 3-0 and their best start in the 36 year history of the program.
So apparently they're doing something right.
Unfortunately, that's probably no consolation to a Washington team that fell to 1-2 despite a heroic effort from Kristi Kingma, who had a career-high 30 points.
UW statistical MVP: Kristi Kingma
Women's Hoops Blog | Seattle Times Newspaper
"Something inside me tried to will my team to a win," Kingma told reporters after the game. "But it wasn't enough."
Due to injuries and posts Marjorie Heard (seven points, seven rebounds) and Mackenzie Argens (10 points, nine boards) fouling out late in the second half, Kingma had to take on even more of the offense. She has played PG the opening three games of the season because senior Sarah Morton is out with a sprained left ankle.
And indeed Kingma did pick up the scoring slack effectively: despite an extremely high usage rate of 38.89%, Kingma managed a very strong true shooting percentage of 62.60% and a stronger-than-usual free throw rate of 45%.
However, as efficient as she was as a scorer, she was less efficient as a ball handler - she finished with an assist ratio of 3.22% compared to a turnover ratio of 19.37%. So while she definitely showed poise in running the point against Portland State in their season-opening win, it's also clear that this team needs her scoring - despite the 6 turnovers she had last night, she still accounted for 42.52% of the team's overall production.
Key statistic: free throw rate
But as noted in Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans' tweet above, this game was decided in the final moments on the free throw line and in a close game in which the Huskies were arguably statistically more efficient, Kent State's free throw rate throughout was the determining statistical factor.
Both teams got to the line quite a bit, but Kent State won that battle with a free throw rate of 54.90% compared to UW's 48.08%. And the biggest contributor to that was forward Taisja Jones.
Key player: Taisja Jones
Hoover grad helps in Kent women's basketball win - Canton, OH - CantonRep.com
Gibson scored 13 points as one of four Golden Flashes in double figures. Kent was led by 16 points by senior Taisja Jones, while freshman Tayler Stanton registered her first career double-double with 15 points and a game-best 13 rebounds.
"It was an ugly game, but we did just enough," said Kent State Head Coach Bob Lindsay. "We fought back in an back-and-forth game, and we came up with plays when we needed them."
Jones scored the majority of her points on the free throw line, shooting 9-12 and having one of those unreal free throw rates of 150% (meaning she shot 1.5 times as many free throws as field goal attempts) which helped her to a very good true shooting percentage of 60.24%.
However, although Jones' free throws ended up being the game-winning free throws, freshman Taylor Stanton's first career double-double might have been more important.
Kent State statistical MVP: Taylor Stanton
Kent State Edges Washington, 59-58, to Advance to Great Alaska Shootout Final: Kent State University Athletics
After a pair of free throws by Mercedes Wetmore gave Washington a 56-53 lead with just over three minutes to play, the Golden Flashes dug down the stretch with big stops and key free throws. A layup by Stanton with two minutes left cut the lead to one, and the freshman again came up with a big play when her offensive rebound resulted in a pair of free throws. Making both, Stanton gave Kent State a 57-56 advantage with over a minute to go.
Stanton's rebounding percentages on both ends were outstanding: an offensive rebounding percentage of 21.62% and a game-high defensive rebounding percentage of 34.59%. Her efforts - both getting offensive rebounds and preventing UW offensive rebounds - went a long way to KSU's narrow offensive rebounding edge (40.54% to 37.84%).
Stanton was also efficient as a scorer, with a true shooting percentage of 62.70% and another odd free throw rate of 112.5%. Three blocks certainly didn't hurt either.
Next up: Championship game for KSU, consolation for UW
From the UW release:
Coming off an exciting, but heartbreaking, 59-58 loss to Kent State, the Washington Huskies will play San Jose State in the consolation final of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout. The Spartans lost to host Alaska-Anchorage 48-35 in the tournament's opening game. Tip-off is at 3:30 p.m. (PST) and before the championship game between KSU and UAA. It's a quick turnaround for the Huskies, who played the late game Tuesday night against Kent State.