A near career-best performance for Montia Johnson was not enough Wednesday as Kent State fell at Northern Illinois 65-43.
“Montia did a very nice job of being the player she is,” Kent State head coach Danielle O’Banion said on the Flashes iHeartRadio network.
“She is a blue collar worker, and she did a nice job of running the floor, working the glass and finishing inside a few possessions,” O’Banion said. “But, like I said, we need more than Montia to step up.”
Johnson led the way for Kent State (3-16, 0-8 Mid-American Conference), finishing with a double-double performance of 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Huskies proved why they are ranked second in the MAC in the defensive category, only allowing 63 points per contest.
Northern Illinois (8-10, 4-4 MAC) made a strategic decision to crowd the painted area and dared the Flashes to shoot the basketball from the outside and it worked to their advantage.
“I thought Northern Illinois was who we thought they were tonight from a defensive standpoint; they play a family defense,” O’Banion said.
The Huskies defense frustrated the Flashes throughout the game and forced them into attempting low-percentage shots from the perimeter.
“I thought early in the game we settled for some shots because we were frustrated. I thought that really came back to haunt us,” O’Banion said. “Certainly, it hurts us when we don’t shoot the basketball very well from outside. Their main objective was for us to shoot over them and we did not have good perimeter production from our scorers tonight.”
The Flashes were able to cut the Huskies lead down to nine with only eight minutes left to play, but the Huskies pulled away from that point on.
The Flashes had numerous chances to set up teammates for easy buckets because of the Huskies’ defensive scheme, but they failed to do so. Kent State finished the game with zero assists in the second half.
“Tonight we had a perfect opportunity to have a number of assists,” said O’Banion, “because Northern Illinois doubled down on our post players and what that tells me is that our hearts are in the right place but our execution was very poor.”
The Flashes will look to win their first conference game when they head home to take on Ball State on Super Bowl Sunday.
“That will be very helpful to be back at home on Sunday; I think that will be a big boost for us from a mental standpoint,” O’Banion said. “Now it’s time to focus on what we didn’t do well tonight and get ready for a talented Ball State team coming in.”
Tip-off is at 2 p.m. Sunday at the M.A.C. Center.
Contact Taylor Rosen at [email protected].