Slow starts killing Kent State women’s basketball

Matt Lofgren

In the last two losses, the Kent State women’s basketball team has shot a combined 26.8 percent from the floor and averaged 19 points in the first half.

Saturday against the reigning WNIT Champions Toledo Rockets, the Flashes fell behind early and dug themselves so deep that a comeback was impossible.

Falling to 4-6 in the Mid-American Conference and 5-15 overall, Toledo sucker punched the Flashes to a disappointing 66-55 loss.

Toledo started the game by sprinting out to a 13-0 lead that left the Flashes looking for answers. It was in that first 3:47 stretch that set the bar for the rest of the game as the team pulled within as close as nine late in the game but could not get over the slow start.

“We were getting to the basket and I don’t know if our players thinking that they were going to get hit and losing concentration making the layups,” assistant coach Lori Bodnar said. “We missed at least nine layups today and that’s what’s killing us.”

Missing easy layups was a crucial flaw in the Flashes’ game and left many to wonder what exactly the team is working on in practice.

“We work on it every day. People should know they go through football pads to make layups.” Bodnar said. “When they get into the game I think they want to shy away from contact and once you shy away from contact those officials are not going to make that call.”

With shooting woes to the basket, the Flashes only shot a total of six free throws while putting the MAC’s worst free throw shooting team at the line 22 times. Although the Rockets sank 15 of those 22, some clutch baskets late in the game sealed the win.

The Flashes made the game competitive in the game was in the second half when the Big Three woke up and came to play. Led by juniors Diamon Beckford and Tamzin Barroilhet with 12 points, junior Trisha Krewson added 11 to the total.

Side Notes

The Flashes bench struggled but outscored Toledo’s bench 6-5 while every starter for Kent played more than 31 minutes.

Outscored the Rockets in the paint 34-20 led by a strong performance by junior forward Diamon Beckford.

Looking for answers on defense, the Rockets out-rebounded the team 41-28 but were pestered on second chance opportunities.

Shooting 38.7 percent from the floor, the team shot a much improved 53.3 percent in the second half to recover from a less than stellar performance in the first.

“I don’t know what it is, but this is the third game in a row we came out flat,” Bodnar said. “At one point in time I looked down at the stat sheet and we were shooting 15 percent on our own floor. I give Toledo credit but I don’t think it was anything they were doing to make us miss those shots.”

Heavily reliant on the 3-point shot, the Flashes struggled from beyond the arc for the second time in four games shooting 3-18 (16.7 percent). A combination of poor shooting from deep and missed opportunities in the paint combined for a disastrous storm on the court while doing a lot of things right. Forcing 27 turnovers on the day, the Flashes turned those chances into 24 points while committing 18 themselves.

Putting the loss behind them, the Flashes now have a week off to recuperate from illness and plan for the best of the MAC West in Eastern Michigan.

“We had the sickness going around just like everyone else in the league, and I think we need to just get good rest and take a couple of days off, get refocused to face a good Eastern Michigan team,” Bodnar said. “It’s amazing, we have other coaches in the league saying ‘you guys are getting better’ and you see it out there, we just need to finish game.”

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected].