Women’s basketball bows out of MAC Tournament with first-round loss


Freshman guard Rachel Mendelsohn drives the ball towards the basket during Kent State’s home game against Bowling Green on March 6. Kent lost the game 51-43. Photo by Melanie Nesteruk.

Meghan Blaha

Kent State’s season came to a close Saturday afternoon after a first-round loss, 76-35, to Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference Tournament at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio.

1,403 fans came out to see the fifth-seed Falcons match up against the 12th-seed Flashes for the third time this season. Having only lost by eight in the second meeting against Bowling Green, Kent State knew the Falcons were going to come ready to play.

“Defensively, they did not guard us nearly as hard as they did on Wednesday and they invited us to shoot long twos and 3s and we were very hesitant,” Flashes head coach Danielle O’Banion said. “First of all, we didn’t do a very good job at recognizing when we were open, standing at or beyond the 3-point line, and then we did not shoot with confidence.”

The Flashes only shot 24 percent from the field, with the only double-digit scoring performance coming from senior Tamzin Barroilhet, who scored all 12 of her points in the second half.

“They came out with a different standard and energy than they did in the first half of the last game,” Barroilhet said. “We were kind of expecting to do things and they kind had countered movements that we weren’t expecting. But I don’t think we came out any differently.”

Bowling Green was led by Alexis Rodgers from the inside and Allison Papenfuss from the perimeter, both finishing with 13 points. Papenfuss also pulled in 10 rebounds, as the Falcons out-rebounded the Flashes 51 to 31.

“The biggest difference, to their credit, was that they clogged up the point and forced us to play 15 feet and beyond and invited us to take those shots,” O’Banion said.

This loss marks the ends of a disappointing season for Kent State, finishing 3-27 for the regular season and 1-16 in conference play. Even with a lopsided record, Barroilhet believes her team never gave up.

“Obviously, it was a little disappointing,” Barroilhet said. “I would say that our record really doesn’t represent our team. We never gave up and we never stopped working hard in practice; we were never defeated.”

In her first season with the program, O’Banion was aware of the challenge, but is already focused on finding success next season.

“Our team is a work in progress, and we knew that when we got here in April,” O’Banion said. “We wanted people to experience success in a number of different places and we didn’t quite get to the 40 minute performance, but not from lack of effort.”

A busy offseason lies ahead for both players and coaches as they try to find more talent to fill the bench and get back in the gym to improve.

“There are two things — we have to continue to recruit,” O’Banion said. “We have four seniors that we need to replace in addition to filling our roster, so our coaches are going to be very active at many high school state tournaments and junior college regional tournaments.”

“And then we will give our returners some rest and then we will be back to work, developing skills, and focusing on weaknesses,” O’Banion said. “So, really it’s just a quick break than back to preparation for a very good second season here.”

For Barroilhet, Trisha Krewson, Diamon Beckford and Leslie Schaefer, their efforts on the court were valued as they competed in a Kent State uniform for the last time.

“All of them, over various parts of the year, have made a tremendous impact on the basketball court,” O’Banion said about the seniors. “They all have positively impacted our locker room, they have been role models for our underclassmen and new players, so their contributions are significant and will be missed.”

Contact Meghan Blaha at [email protected].