3-point barrage from Kent State eliminates Huskies from MAC tournament


Joseph Segreti

Kent State grad student forward Lindsey Thall (44) reaches toward NIU senior forward A’Jah Davis (25) for an incoming pass during the MAC Women’s Basketball Tournament on March 8 at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland. (Joseph Segreti | Northern Star)

By Ethan Gonzales and Zachary Bertram

NIU women’s basketball was defeated by Kent State University 75-68 Wednesday in the opening round of the Mid-American Conference tournament in Cleveland. 

Led by senior guards Katie Shumate and Clare Kelly, the Golden Flashes hit 11 of their 26 three-point attempts. Shumate and Kelly knocked down four threes each, combining for 36 total points. 

“You don’t necessarily expect somebody to come out and shoot better than 50% from the three-point line,” NIU women’s basketball head coach Lisa Carlsen said. “They’re (Kent State) really good at it. We know that they are capable of that, it was a part of the game plan. You have to tip your hat to the shots that they were able to knock down.”

In her last game as a Huskie, senior forward A’Jah Davis led the way for NIU, scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. 

“It’s bittersweet. Obviously, we wanted to play to Saturday, but I’m really proud of this group,” Davis said. “I’m grateful that the coaching staff took a chance on me and I was able to perform to the best of my ability.”

Junior guard Jayden Marable had her second highest scoring performance of the season, scoring 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting. Marable began multiple runs for the Huskies, including a three-pointer to cut Kent State’s lead to 64-59 with 3:07 remaining in the game.

“I knew I just had to come out and play,” Marable said. “Just go all out knowing that this would be our last game. Just give my best effort every single day.”

Senior guard Chelby Koker struggled in the loss to Kent State, shooting 4-for-14 from the field and finishing with just nine points. Koker is the Huskies’ second-leading scorer, averaging 15.9 points per game.

Four double-digit scoring performances from the Golden Flashes propelled Kent State’s offense. 

Along with Shumate and Kelly, graduate forward Lindsey Thall scored 16 points while junior guard Casey Santoro recorded 12 points. 


Kent State started the game hot with a 19-8 run, forcing NIU’s first timeout. Five threes in the first quarter for Kent State helped the Golden Flashes build a 22-10 lead heading into the second quarter.

“I felt like at some times they (Kent State) were trying harder than us,” Davis said. 

The Golden Flashes added four more three-pointers in the second quarter, helping them take a 38-25 halftime lead. Shumate and Kelly combined for 26 first-half points, outscoring the entire Huskie team in the first 20 minutes.

“That first quarter was really the difference,” Carlsen said. “Kent (State) did a great job of trying to exploit mismatches. We knew we would be in that situation with some of the switching we were doing, but felt it was still in our best interest to try to stay five-on-five as much as we could. I think they did a great job again of exploiting that (mismatches) and then they hit some big shots.” 

Kelly was a spark for the Golden Flashes off the bench, scoring 11 first-half points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting.


The Huskies outscored Kent State 18-13 in the third quarter to get themselves back in the game. Davis and Marable combined to score all 18 Huskie points in the third quarter to cut the Golden Flashes’ lead to 51-43 heading into the fourth quarter. 

“We wanted to get the ball into A’Jah,” Marable said. “A lot of times they’re sending multiple bodies at her, we just had to find ways to score by getting ball movement and working inside-out.”

The Huskies were able to get back into the game by dominating the paint in the third. 14 of their 18 points came from in close. 

“We fight and we clawed and again, I was really proud of our effort, especially in the second half,” Carlsen said. 

Marable’s three with just over three minutes left brought NIU as close as they had been since the first quarter. After the Huskies cut the deficit to five, the Golden Flashes answered with a 10-3 run to go up 12 with under a minute to play. The run helped seal the 75-68 victory for Kent State. 

The Huskies finished their season with a 16-14 overall record and an 8-10 record in conference play. NIU failed to defeat Kent State this season, going 0-3 against the Golden Flashes.

NIU will bid farewell to Davis, graduate guard Janae Poisson and graduate forwards Emily Meinert and Emma Carter at the conclusion of the 2022-23 season. Davis finished her career as the all-time double-double leader for NIU and was selected to the 2022-23 All-MAC First team. Poisson is a seven-year veteran at NIU. She broke the 1000-point threshold against Western Illinois University and scored a career-high 32 points in the same game. Poisson was named MAC Sixth Player of the Year for the second consecutive year Tuesday.

Kent State will play the No. 1 seeded University of Toledo Rockets at 10 a.m. EST Friday in Cleveland.