KSU women’s basketball falls to Ohio 51-45

Freshman guard Itziar Llobet looks to pass against the Miami Redhawks on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The Flashes lost in overtime, 69-65. File photo by Jenna Watson.

Matt Lofgren

Despite holding Ohio to just 24.1 percent shooting from the floor, the Flashes simply could not get the job done with the ball.

Committing 32 turnovers, the team’s highest total since its second game of the season on Nov. 15, the Kent State women’s basketball team fell Saturday afternoon to the Bobcats 51-45.

“That’s the first game I’ve ever coached in the sport of basketball where we’ve held a team to 24 percent shooting and hadn’t won the game,” coach Bob Lindsay said. “We’ve really struggled putting two sides of the court together. I thought our defense played pretty well for the most part of the game, and on the offensive end, we were turnover prone under pressure. I thought we were sloppy offensively at times, had trouble making easy shots when we had them and just kind of the same struggles we’ve had in some recent games.”  

Managing to win the rebounding battle for one of only a few occasions this year, a 43-36 advantage on the glass did little to benefit the team.

While the Flashes made good on the boards, it was fouling that hurt the team most. Sending the Bobcats to the line 25 times during the game, Ohio was able to sink 20 of those free throws to keep the game out of reach and the road woes continued for the team.

“With a younger team, you have to learn how to win on the road, and it’s been hard for us,” assistant coach Kerrie James said. “When teams make a push and they rattle off seven, eight, nine points in the game, how we respond to that … we have talked to them a lot about it.”

The freshmen are the key to the Flashes success late in the season with a lot of pressure on the juniors. With one more road game left and a high probability for a road tournament game, the Flashes, who are 1-11 on the road this year, need to learn quickly.

“Thankfully, some of our freshmen have gotten the chance to get a lot of playing on court experience this year, so it should help us in the future,” James said. “We’ve just got to tell them you keep sticking with it and that when you’re on the road, a lot of times you have to play like you’re 10 points down just from the jump. I think it’s even more obvious with a young team like we have this year.”

Itziar Llobet has been one of most consistent freshmen for the team this year, but struggled mightily Saturday. Scoring zero points on 0-5 shooting with 36 minutes, Llobet is a key part of the Flashes success and needs to keep her head up.

“With Itchy, we have just got to stay with her,” James said. “If things aren’t going that well for her, she tends to get a little frustrated. But at the end of the day, even as a freshmen, we need her to play well to give us a shot to win. She’s pretty athletic. She has a pretty good feel for the game, so as much as with anyone else on the team, we constantly have to stay with her.”

Where the points did come from was in the form of the best performance of junior Leslie Schaefer’s career in only her second start. Dropping a team and career best 13 points, Schaefer also added seven rebounds.

“I think she has been a recipient of some penetration and discount passing from some of our guards and giving her some easy looks,” James said. “She has been rebounding the ball pretty well for us in our last couple starts, so she has been giving us something that she wasn’t giving us in those minutes that she was spotting coming off the bench. So it’s good to see her contributing.”

On a six game losing streak, the Flashes have hit the rough patch of the season at the worst possible time. With just three games left before the Mid-American Conference Tournament, the team has a lot of wrongs to right with just three games left.

“In the college game, if you look at the men or you look at the women, the quality of your offense is often dictated by the quality of your guard play,” Lindsay said. “I think you can look at the quality of our guard play or the quality of our perimeter play and can pretty much see the ups and downs of where we have been offensively.”

The Flashes have a short rest until the team travels to Buffalo Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tip-off against the team that James says the team had its “best game” on offense.

“We need to take the preparation time that we have and take full advantage of it,” Lindsay said. “There is a short turnaround for all the teams in the league that are playing on Tuesday night. You basically get two days to prepare. You usually get one and for us, it’s going to be to find the importance of taking care of the ball and find the importance of quality execution. And on the other side of it, the defensive end, to take away some of the strength that Buffalo might have and make them play to their secondary option.”

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected] and @MLofgrenDKS.