Women’s basketball sees improvement against MAC East leaders


Head coach Danielle O’Banion leads the Flashes during their game against Miami of Ohio Sunday afternoon. Kent State fell to Miami, 76-48. Photo by JENNA WATSON.

Meghan Blaha

Despite a double-digit loss, Kent State showed a valiant effort and came out strong against one of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference.

Kent State (2-17, 0-6 MAC) fell to MAC East leader Miami (13-6, 5-1 MAC), 76-48, Sunday in front of 487 fans at the M.A.C. Center. The Flashes went on the attack on both ends of the court, pressuring Miami ball-handlers into 12 turnovers in the first half.

Turnovers have been the Achilles heel for the Flashes, preventing the team from being able to get into a consistent, flowing offense. With only nine turnovers in the first half, the Flashes were able to run the floor and attack the hoop.

Flashes head coach Danielle O’Banion was pleased with how the team was able to keep possession and force turnovers.

“We accomplished some of our goals from a defensive standpoint to force 21 turnovers, we feel pretty good about that,” O’Banion said. “The problem is that we didn’t capitalize on those 21 turnovers.”

Senior Leslie Schaefer led the Flashes at halftime with seven points. Schaefer and freshman Heather Bachman had a dominant presence in the paint, outscoring Miami 14-10 in the first half. Despite the difference in post points, Kent State entered half time trailing 38-23.

Freshman point guard Rachel Mendelsohn opened the second half with a jumper, putting the Flashes back within 13 points. Back-to-back defensive stops for Kent State frustrated the Red Hawks, but the Flashes seemed unable to convert off of second-chance opportunities.

Kent State struggled to hit shots, finishing the game shooting 28.1 percent from the field. Frustration was obvious, as even small jumpers could not find the bottom of the net in the second half.

Many Flashes had problems from the 3-point line, only making 2 of 21 from behind the arc. Senior guard Tamzin Barroilhet was one of the few Flashes to find success getting to the hoop, finishing the game with nine points.

“We basically just prepared mentally really well, focused really well,” Barroihlet said. “We just were really focused with our game plan, especially on defense and we stopped their best player.”

Miami forward Kirsten Olowinski led the RedHawks with 15 points and eight rebounds. The Flashes were successful in limiting Miami standout Courtney Osborn to only nine points and four rebounds.

“I am very proud of Jamie Hutcheson in particular, she accepted the challenged and answered the bell in that regard,” O’Banion said. “Osborn is a very good player, unfortunately for us; unfortunately for our fans, they did not get to see how good (Hutcheson) is tonight.”

Miami was able to out-rebound the usually solid Flashes by 15, where they were able to take back control, finishing the game with 26 points in the paint to shut down Kent State’s post play.

“I think today we lacked a little confidence because our shots weren’t going down and it affected us,” Barroilhet said

Preparing for Central Michigan on Thursday, the Flashes continue to look at the remaining season positively. The Chippewas are leading MAC West division and are currently undefeated in conference play.

“We all know that we will have to play very well Thursday night, especially at Central Michigan,” O’Banion said. “But I think this team has kind of turned a corner a little bit in terms of how we hold ourselves in a higher regard mentally.”

In order to break Central Michigan’s six-game win streak, the Flashes will have to come out with the same fire they did in the first half against Miami.

“We just challenged our players in the locker room after the game – let’s take that same focus and grit and let’s get ready for Central Michigan,” O’Banion said.

Contact Meghan Blaha at [email protected].