Kent State can’t fight back in loss to Eastern Michigan

Meghan Blaha

The Golden Flashes’ women’s basketball team has found it difficult to secure a win for much of the 2012-13 season, and Thursday night was no different.

Kent State (2-16, 0-5 Mid-American Conference) continued to struggle in a 64-45 loss to Eastern Michigan Thursday at the M.A.C. Center.

The Eagles came out strong, attacking all areas of the court with an aggressive 2-3 zone. Kent State was able to get success working the ball inside to senior Tamzin Barroilhet, who led the team with eight points in the first half.

Problems started early for the Flashes, who had trouble keeping possession of the ball. Eastern Michigan converted off of 15 turnovers in the first half, which gave them the lead with eight minutes to play.

Jamie Hutcheson was able to light it up from the 3-point line, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 21-11 with seven minutes left in the first. That was the only 3-pointer for Kent State in the first half.

Hutcheson finished the game with a career-high 16 points, four of those coming from behind the arc. She believes that the team has what it takes to get a victory.

“I think the other girls know where they can take shots and they have proven that in many games,” Hutcheson said. “I just think tonight wasn’t our night.”

A seventh-straight turnover by the Flashes led to a breakaway layup by Eastern Michigan’s Natachia Watkins, who finished the first half with eight points.

The Flashes came out of the media timeout fighting, causing a shot clock violation for Eastern Michigan. They also extended to full-court pressure, which created multiple fast-break opportunities.

The first free throw opportunity of the game came with 5:08 left in the first with a one-and-one by Barroilhet to bring the Flashes within 10 at 23-13. Kent State was able to make it to the foul line three times in the first half, making four of five. The Flashes never made it to the line in the second half.

A focus for Kent State coming into the game was attacking the basket in order to get to the free-throw line. The Flashes had problems getting to into the paint, finishing the second half with only 8 points in the paint while shooting 34 percent from the field.

Eastern Michigan’s Bianca Cage and Desyree Thomas both turned out impressive performances combining for 31 points and six rebounds.

Cage hit a 3-pointer from the top, extending Eastern Michigan’s lead to 13 with 3:07 left in the first, as the Flashes trailed 32-19 going into halftime.

Kent State started the second half well with a steal and score by freshman Rachel Mendelsohn to cut the deficit to 11. But Eastern Michigan began to pick apart the zone, attacking the hoop from all angles.

Flashes coach Danielle O’Banion called a time out with 13:32 left in regulation as the Eagles continued to score, extending the lead to 38-21. Frustration was obvious on the faces of the players as they searched for a way to the basket.

Coach O’Banion was unavailable for comment after the game.

Hutcheson broke a seven-minute scoring drought of the second half with a baseline put-back with 12:20 to play and the Flashes down 41-21.

Ashley Evans stepped up big for the Flashes in the second half, hitting a long range 3-pointer with five minutes to play, making it 57-35.

The constant full-court pressure and turnovers by Kent State allowed for Eastern Michigan to shoot 46.3 percent from the floor and finish the game without giving up the lead.

Looking ahead to their next game against Miami, Hutcheson believes they will be ready.

“We know what we can do,” she said. “We are just trying to stay positive so we can continue the season in the right way.”

Contact Meghan Blaha at [email protected].