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Women’s basketball powers past rival, earning fourth consecutive win over Akron

Debonaire Wright
Graduate student guard Abby Ogle (front middle) and her team celebrate their win against Akron by ringing the bell on Feb. 24, 2024.
Highlights from February 24th’s game vs. Akron.

The Kent State women’s basketball team has limited Akron to 60 points or fewer in every contest during the current four-game rivalry winning streak. 

The Flashes’ (16-8, 11-3 MAC) defense forced 13 turnovers and scored 16 points off of turnovers en route to a 73-51 win over their Mid-American Conference foe, Akron (9-16, 4-10 MAC).

After losing 79-77 against Ohio University on Wednesday, coach Todd Starkey wanted to see how his team responded.

“I think we all had the feeling that we let one get away in our last game,” he said. “We wanted to answer that and make sure we came back today and played.”

For redshirt senior guard Katie Shumate, it started with not feeling like they did against OU.

Forward Janae Tyler spins off a defender during the Flashes rivalry game against the Akron Zips on Feb. 24, 2024. (Debonaire Wright)

“I think just letting it hurt a little bit. But also moving forward and just focusing on what happened in that game that led us to lose,” she said. “Then working on moving forward into this game and just understanding that we don’t want to feel that way again, and it’s in our control to not lose games like that.”

Kent State shot 26-of-49 from the field for 53.1%, which is their best accuracy against a Division 1 opponent this season.  

Shumate scored a game-high 18 points. 

“Katie keeps attracting so much attention, and teams are really playing her physically,” Starkey said. “I think she’s still doing a great job of responding to that.”

Freshman forward Janae Tyler (16) and junior forward Jenna Batsch (12) also scored in double digits.

“Every game, I can feel the difference in how valuable it is to have someone of her size and her aggressiveness, and her overall IQ for the game,” Starkey said about Tyler’s progression throughout the season.

For Kent, the main focus for the game was to limit preseason First Team All-MAC player Reagan Bass. 

“Going into the game, we knew that we had to shut her down,” Starkey said. “We knew that she was a great rebounder and great scorer. So we definitely had to limit what she could do in the game.”

Bass came into the contest averaging the third most points (16) and most rebounds (10) in the MAC. She finished the game with eight points and six rebounds. 

After a back-and-forth start to the game, the Flashes ended the first quarter on a 12-2 scoring run, taking a 22-9 lead.

Guard Dionna Gray looks to make a play as she crosses the court during the game against Akron on Feb. 24, 2024. (Debonaire Wright)

After starting the second quarter shooting 5-for-5 from the field, the Flashes ended the quarter shooting 2-of-6 as they went into halftime leading 39-30.

Kent State’s defense escalated after the break, and held the Zips to 21 points on 8-of-26 (28.6%) shooting during the second half.

Tyler, who started the game 5-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line, missed her first attempt with one minute remaining in the third quarter. 

“I don’t really pay attention to that,” Tyler said. “I’m just playing and just trying to stay focused.”

Starkey was pleased with his team’s defensive efforts after holding all Akron players under 10 points.

“I thought the whole defensive concept was good today,” Starkey said. “I thought that was a big thing for us. 

“They really dialed in defensively because we didn’t play well defensively this past Wednesday.”

On Wednesday, the Flashes clinched a spot in the MAC Tournament, which begins March 13. 

“Obviously, we are still adjusting to Corynne Hauser being out, but I think Dionna Gray has really continued to get more and more comfortable in that role. 

“Our team is adjusting to the way we’re playing and I want to see us continue to improve and be at our best [when we get] up to Cleveland.”

Gray has tallied three games with seven or more points in her four games as the starting point guard and two with seven or more assists.

Forward Jenna Batsch drives to the basket late in the game against Akron on Feb. 24, 2024. (Debonaire Wright)

Next up, The Flashes will face Eastern Michigan Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Kent State defeated Eastern Michigan 66-57 the last time the teams played each other Jan. 24. 

This was the first 20-point game of the season for Batsch. 

KSU has two remaining home games (March 2 and March 6), and Tyler hopes fans can continue showing up and supporting.

“We feed off of the energy of having the fans here,” she said. “If they’re up, we’re definitely up. Having them around definitely gives me a lot of energy.”

Emily Lowen is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

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