KSU women’s basketball comes up short in first game of PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge

Sophomore guard Rachel Mendelson drives the ball for Kent State at  the University of Akron, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. Kent State lost the game, 51-77.

Taylor Rosen

Kent State (3-13, 0-5 MAC) fell to Akron (8-8, 2-3 MAC) 77-51 in the first game of the PNC Wagon Wheel Challenge on Saturday.

“Akron made a strategic decision to pack it in and make us score from the outside,” said Kent State head coach Danielle O’Banion on the Golden Flashes iHeartRadio network. “Interestingly, I still felt like we got really good opportunities for CiCi and Montia early, I thought all of us had a chance to make a bunny today and we just didn’t.”

The Flashes finished the game shooting 31 percent connecting on 17 of 54 attempts from the field. The Zips shot the ball at 42 percent hitting 24 of their 57 attempts.

“That’s frustrating because we were prepped to be successful against the zone and we were getting high percentage shots and we did not put them in,” said O’Banion. “A lot of credit goes to Akron, they have not played much zone all year and they picked us and that worked for them.”

Kent State forced Akron into 21 turnovers on Saturday at Rhodes arena, including 12 steals, but the team only scored 13 points off of those turnovers.

Sophomore guard Rachel Mendelsohn came into the game and provided instant offense for the Golden Flashes. Mendelsohn finished the game leading the team in scoring with 14. Junior forward Montia Johnson chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds. Junior guard Mikell Chinn had a team-high six assists.

The Flashes went into the halftime locker room trailing the Zips 36-19.  Kent State got into early foul trouble in the first half. Johnson and senior guard Ashley Evans both committed three personal fouls in the first 20 minutes of play.

“We can’t be the last guy on the floor, being the last guy on the floor it makes it more obvious to the officials if we’ve gone through another player to get the basketball,” said O’Banion. “So two of Ashley’s fouls tonight she was the last guy on the floor, she did end up with the basketball but she went under somebody to get it.”

The Golden Flashes shot 25 percent from the field in the first half. The Zips, on the other hand, only managed a pedestrian 36 percent.

“We are going to get there with this team, this year we are going to continue to work at it,” said O’Banion. “You are starting to see some light bulbs come on, and you are starting to see our preparation habits start to shift to a more appropriate level. So I am really excited about what lies ahead for this team.”

The Flashes look to bounce back this Wednesday, January 22nd, when they take on Central Michigan at the MAC center. Tip-off is at 7:00p.m.

Contact Taylor Rosen at [email protected].