Women’s basketball team welcomes nine newcomers

Ty Sugick

After a long offseason, the Kent State women’s basketball team will return to action on Sunday.

The Flashes finished 5-25 last season, as the team faced a multitude of setbacks, from preseason injuries to coach Danielle O’Banion being diagnosed with cancer during the season.

But just like O’Banion’s cancer, the team’s days of sloppy play and losing are behind them as the Flashes look to steadily improve this season with a full bench of 15 players – nine of them being newcomers. Three of these newcomers have come to Kent State as transfer students.

The Transfers

Forward: Chelsi Watson comes to Kent State from Tyler Junior College in Texas. She has the tallest vertical leap on the team, standing only at 5’10.” Coach O’banion said “she relatively could dunk a tennis ball.”

Guard: Keziah Lewis, a New Zealand native from Ellsworth Community College in Iowa. Also standing at 5’10,” she is commonly compared to former guard Rachel Mendelsohn in terms of production.

Forward: Zenobia Bess is a 6’1” transfer from Illinois State. She brings a 6’5” wingspan to the floor, but will have to sit this season out due to transfer rules. 

As for the six freshmen, they will fight for playing time through the season, but look for them to make an impact this season.

With nine newcomers added to the roster, the Flashes lost a few familiar faces beyond graduation including wing Krista White, guard Mendelsohn and forward Janae Peterson.

White and Peterson transferred to other Division II schools to continue playing basketball. Mendelsohn reportedly left the team on good terms and is still currently enrolled at Kent State.

O’Banion only brings back four players with her from last season; two who have yet to see the floor.

The Golden Flashes will rely heavily on junior wing Larissa Lurken as she led the team in minutes played and scoring last season.

The addition of more shooters to this team will pay off for the Flashes and their up-tempo style of play.

Point guard Naddiyah Cross and forward Jordan Korinek – both sophomores – look to take the next step in their maturation. Both started a number of games for the team last season and will be looked upon as leaders for this young team.

At Media Day, O’Banion said Cross would be a much more confident and efficient scorer for the Flashes this year.

With the roster bolstering in fresh faces, it was very surprising to hear that team chemistry is at an all-time high. O’Banion and Lurken agreed that this is the closest the team has been since either have arrived on campus.

Hopefully, the team chemistry will find its way onto the court this season as well, as the Flashes are projected to finish last (sixth) in the MAC East this year. The young Flashes’ quest to surprise the league will begin Sunday.

Kent State will take on Hiram Sunday, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center.

Contact Ty Sugick at [email protected].