Women’s basketball looks to sweep Ohio

Head coach Danielle OBanion leads the Flashes during their game against Miami of Ohio on Jan. 27. The women will face the Ohio Bobcats Feb. 20 in the MAC Center. Photo by Jenna Watson .

Head coach Danielle O’Banion leads the Flashes during their game against Miami of Ohio on Jan. 27. The women will face the Ohio Bobcats Feb. 20 in the MAC Center. Photo by Jenna Watson .

Meghan Blaha

Kent State started February off strong with a last-minute win against Ohio to break a seven-game losing streak. When the Bobcats come to the M.A.C. Center Wednesday, the Flashes hope to make it two in a row over Ohio.

After three consecutive tough losses to conference foes, Kent State (3-21, 1-10 MAC) is still searching to play a complete 40-minute game. The latest loss versus conference-leading Toledo highlighted all of the problem areas for the Flashes.

“The biggest lesson from Toledo is how we start games, and that has been something that we worked on we continue to work on,” said head coach Danielle O’Banion. “The better the team you play, the more they punish you for your mistakes, and we were not very sharp to start the game at Toledo and [they] took advantage of that.”

The deadly combination of turnovers and a low field goal percentage has plagued Kent State over the last three games. Thirty-eight percent from the field is the highest number the team has seen as they continue to struggle to make shots.

Junior guard Amber Dunlap said she believes her team knows what they must improve.

“We need to focus on ourselves on defense and not turn the ball over — that’s what we need to really work on,” Dunlap said. “If we don’t turn the ball over, then we can score.”

Ohio has had a similar season, currently riding an 11-game losing streak and holding the last spot in the conference. Earlier in the month, Kent State fought its way back from a 16-point deficit in the first half to defeat the Bobcats by two.

Dunlap said she knows it was more than just making shots that aided in the comeback.

“It was all guts and determination. We have our theme of ‘fire it up,’ [and it] came out at halftime. We came back, and we had to do what we had to do,” Dunlap said. “We have to put it all out on the floor.”

Despite securing the win, the slow start continued to haunt the Flashes through out the first half. The team has been concentrating on fighting the lulls of the game.

“We have talked about continuing to pursue a 40 minute performance and continuing to understand that we are still the closest thing to a win that OU has experienced,” O’Banion said. “There is no reason to think that they wouldn’t show up tomorrow with a very high level of motivation.”

The Flashes will focus on Ohio freshman guard Kiyanna Black, who was the leading scorer in the previous game with 14 points. She averages 11 points per game in conference play.

Freshman forward Lexie Baldwin is the main force in the paint for the Bobcats, averaging nearly six rebounds per game.

“We will continue to worry about their transition scoring,” O’Banion said. “They do that very well, especially after we make baskets. […] They change up defenses pretty well, and so we have to maintain possession of the ball so we get shots and also make it more difficult for them to score the ball, particularly making sure they are not scoring fast break layups.”

Senior Diamon Beckford started at guard for the first time since recovering from a concussion in December. She recorded four points and three rebounds, but O’Banion believes her presence is worth more than just statistics.

“It’s a big lift for our team,” O’Banion said. “She is a little more difficult of a match up than Leslie [Schaefer] or Heather [Bachman] because she can score facing the basket. It gives Tamzin [Barroilhet] a chance to play on the perimeter a lot more than she has been while Diamon was out, so she helps us in a lot of ways.”

Both teams see this as a great opportunity to make a statement in the conference.

“[The Bobcats] compete hard,” O’Banion said. “They are in the mix in every game at various points, but both teams show up every time they put their uniforms on and they compete as hard as they physically can. I think that’s what makes games against OU a competitive game.”

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Contact Meghan Blaha at [email protected].