Women’s basketball falls to Bowling Green, looks to tournament play

Meghan Blaha

Kent State came out of the gates ready to play Wednesday night against conference foe Bowling Green, but quickly fell apart in the second half, falling 51-43 in front of 419 fans at the M.A.C. Center.

The Flashes came out strong, hitting the boards hard and grabbing a number of offensive rebounds in the beginning possessions, but they were not able to convert. Kent State came fighting back with tenacious defense, forcing Bowling Green to work for every point.

The Falcons went up 8-3 in the opening minutes, being able to convert in transition.

A 3-pointer by junior guard Ashley Evans put the Flashes within two with 10 minutes left to play in the first half. The tough defense continued, as the momentum was clearly shifting in the Flashes’ favor.

“Basketball is a game of runs and all that matters is that you capitalize on those runs,” senior Diamon Beckford said.

Beckford finished the game with 14 points off the bench.

Kent State head Coach Danielle O’Banion was happy with the contribution from freshman Rachel Mendelsohn, who brought a great amount of energy to the game.

“Rachel plays with great energy, [but] she’s a freshman and sometimes she makes some freshman decisions,” O’Banion said. “She is going to be a very good player here and she and [Evans] will get better playing together.”

The Flashes pushed their way to a two-point lead with five minutes left to play in the first half, 14-12. The tough defense continued to the final whistle of the first half as the Flashes forced five turnovers.

A 3-pointer by Falcon guard Chrissy Steffen with 30 seconds left on the clock and a pair of free throws by Alexis Rodgers put Bowling Green up 16-14 going into halftime.

Kent State out-rebounded the Falcons 20-18 through the first half, particularly on the defensive side. With 11 turnovers going into the first half, keeping possession of the ball in the second half would prove difficult.

“When we made a mistake, they capitalized,” O’Banion said. “And that’s what good basketball teams do.”

The shots started falling for the Falcons as they went on a run midway through the second half. A number of Falcons started finding success from the outside and extended the lead to 33-22. Steffen continued her success from the outside, finishing with 13 points.

“They got a couple of offensive rebounds, and we didn’t capitalize on the offensive end so that kind of hurt us a little bit,” Beckford said. “We had a couple empty possessions, but I am proud of my team and we fought it out till the end.”

Ohio lost to Miami, which forces a tie for the eleventh and twelfth seeds in the upcoming tournament. A coin toss will determine what seed the Flashes will take, most likely putting them up against Miami, Buffalo or Bowling Green.

“The challenge for us on Saturday, whoever we’re playing, we need to bring this mentality, this ‘defend our house’ mentality on the bus with us,” O’Banion said.

Mendelsohn echoed the thoughts of her coach after the loss.

“It’s do-or-die time now,” said Rachel Mendelsohn. “We know what we have to do to be successful and what our goal is, we just have to go out and execute and play for each other.”

Contact Meghan Blaha at [email protected].