Kent State women’s basketball defeats Akron

Matt Lofgren

Final score

Kent State: 56

Akron: 53

The Kent State women’s basketball team used a late-game rally to clinch a first round bye in the Mid-American Conference Tournament Wednesday as the Flashes topped rival Akron 56-53.

The Kent State defense held Akron to just two points over the final 8:41 as the offense overcame a 12-point lead.

“Typical Akron-Kent State game, very physical, sometimes not the prettiest of affairs,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “They played really hard, we played really hard and we were three points better tonight.”

The Flashes (20-8, 11-5 MAC) struck first with a layup by senior center Ellie Shields as she was fouled. Following the free throw, Kent State took a 3-0 lead.

Kent State’s defense held strong to start the match. The Zips (13-5, 7-5 MAC) didn’t get on the scoreboard until the 16:55 mark on a layup by freshman Carly Young.

The Flashes had their largest lead of the first half after a 9-1 run to take an 18-10 lead.

Unfortunately for the Flashes, the lead wouldn’t hold as the Zips battled back going on a 20-6 run to take a 30-24 lead with 2:15 before half.

A 4:10 scoreless drought, mixed in with four turnovers, plagued Kent State. But the Zips only led by two points before senior forward Taisja Jones sank a jump shot to lead the Flashes with 11 points before the half.

Akron out rebounded Kent State, 23-17 in the first half.

The Zips headed into halftime holding on to a 34-28 lead.

The Flashes had their work cut out for them in the second half after shooting a disappointing 39 percent from the floor and committing 11 turnovers.

Akron started with the ball to start the second half, but after a steal by senior guard Jamilah Humes and two free throws by senior guard Stephanie Gibson, the Flashes were back within four points, 34-30.

The Zips responded by going on a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 40-30 with 17:21 remaining.

At the 4:20 mark, Humes hit a runner to pull within one, 51-50, while Akron was suffering from a scoreless drought of over five minutes.

On her next trip up, Humes hit a jumper with 3:19 remaining to take the lead for the first time since the 5:03 mark in the first half.

“We were just playing off our offense,” Humes said. “In the first half we really we’re executing really well; second half we just took our time and once we actually executed the offense, layups came. It was just in the flow of the offense.”

After a couple of free throws, the Flashes took a 54-51 lead with 2:05 left. The Zips hit a jumper with five seconds left then quickly fouled Jones on the inbound.

Jones sank both free throws to put the Flashes back up 56-53.

Kent State’s much-improved defense and ball control lead the Flashes to victory. The team committed only seven turnovers from the first half and did not allow the Zips to get into the bonus.

Despite being out rebounded 41-31, the Flashes got crucial possessions late in the game to hold off the young Zips attack. The Flashes were fortunate that the 17 offensive rebounds by the Zips only turned into nine points.

“We kind of played two different halves,” Lindsay said. “The first half we really didn’t play very hard or with very much character, the second half I thought we played with a lot of character.”

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected].