Women’s basketball falls 89-80 in exhibition

Tim Dorst

After a difficult first season under head coach Danielle O’Banion, the Kent State women’s basketball returned to the court Wednesday night in exhibition to attempt to start the 2013-14 season on a positive note.

The night didn’t quite go the Flashes’ way as the team lost to the Walsh Cavaliers 89-80 at the M.A.C. Center despite keeping the game relatively close for much of the night.

Trailing 77-70 with a little more than six minutes left in the game, the Flashes started to rally after senior guard Amber Dunlap drained a 3-pointer. Junior forward Montia Johnson, playing in her first game with the Flashes, followed with a jumpshot in the paint, and sophomore Rachel Mendelsohn tied the game at 78 with a 3-pointer of her own before the three-minute mark of the second half.

Kent State closed the gap, but was unable to gain the lead before the final buzzer sounded.

O’Banion said the player’s adrenaline got the best of them in the first half, and redshirt junior CiCi Shannon picking up three first-half fouls made it tough for the Flashes to get stops on defense.

Turnovers were an issue as well, as the Flashes committed 15 of them in the first half.

“I felt we forced some passes in the first half against their zone,” O’Banion said. “We got impatient and made some bad decisions.”

The Cavaliers kept the Flashes at bay after gaining the lead at 15:05 in the first half and led 50-41 by halftime. Kent State managed to tie the contest on a few occasions but did not lead for the entirety of the second half.

Despite the loss, O’Banion drew a few positive from what she saw from her team. The performance from Johnson, who led the Flashes with 17 points and nine rebounds on 8-16 shooting, caught O’Banion’s attention, and O’Banion said that is exactly what the team needs for her to do.

“We are going to count on her this season,” O’Banion said. “She is going to be an impactful player for us.”

Mendelsohn added 15 points with three 3-pointers off the bench for the Flashes, and Shannon recovered from early foul trouble to finish with 10 points and seven rebounds. Kent State also got a 14-point effort from freshman guard Larissa Lurken, who also played her first game for the Flashes.

The Cavaliers outshot the Flashes from 3-point range, converting on 12 of its 26 attempts. The Flashes attempted 21 threes in the game, but made just seven shots from beyond the arc.

The regular season begins Sunday as the Flashes will take on Eastern Kentucky at the M.A.C. Center. Tipoff is schedule for 2 p.m.

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected].