Late game rally falls short, Flashes knocked out of MAC Tourney

Matt Lofgren

The Kent State women’s basketball team fell short of a first-round win against Eastern Michigan, 69-65 Wednesday at the Quicken Loans Arena.

The loss can potentially put an end to Kent State’s season and five seniors’ college careers.

With 50 seconds left in the game, senior forward Taisja Jones hit 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game at 65-65. With their next possession, the Eagle’s Kristin Thomas sank a layup with 20 seconds remaining in regulation to give Eastern Michigan a 67-65 lead.

Only 6 seconds remained in the game when senior guard Jamilah Humes went up for a desperation layup to tie the game. Humes missed the tough layup, and the Eagles collected the rebound.

“We drew up the play to come off the ball screen, I had a lane, I thought I had the first defender beat, but they brought help,” Humes said. “I tried to draw contact but didn’t get it.”

The Flashes immediately fouled Cassie Schrock to put the Eagles in the double-bonus round, and she hit both foul shots to seal the Flashes’ fate in the tournament.

The team had four starters in double digits behind Humes’ team-high 19 points. Senior center Ellie Shields had 17 and Jones had 15 points.

Final score

Eastern Michigan: 69

Kent State: 65

Game highlights

  • Tavelyn James of E. Michigan led all scores with 21 points
  • Jamilah Humes scored 19 points for the Flashes
  • Eastern Michigan shot 50% from the field

“The difference really in this game was just a couple of (plays) here and there, especially at the end of the game,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “I thought that they executed a little bit better than us, especially at the end. We were tired, and they were probably tired too. It was a tough one for us tonight and it was a tough one to lose. We couldn’t get the stops down the stretch.”

Although the team was 15-for-17 from the free-throw line, the two missed free throws were late goings of the game. Jones missed one of the two free throws with 50 seconds remaining

At the conclusion of the first half, the Flashes trailed 31-27 and appeared to have pieced together some solid offensive possessions.

But Kent State struggled with their role players off the bench, as the team had no points from their bench players.

Season point leaders Jones and Humes struggled with finding an offensive rhythm by being held to six points apiece.

It was the Eagles who came out ready for the second half and burned the Flashes early. Opening up on a 12-6 run, Eastern Michigan grabbed a 10-point lead off a steal by Schrock who passed the ball off to Sydney Huntley, who made the score 43-33.

With 8:51 remaining, the Flashes started creating some plays of their own and ripped off on a quick 11-0 run to pull within one (53-52) in less than three minutes off three Eastern Michigan turnovers.

“Really us being seniors, we really didn’t want this to be our last game,” Humes said. “We knew that we didn’t play very well in the first half. We just wanted to come out and put everything out there on the court, just try and get some stops because we wanted to go out like that.”

It took until 4:25 remaining for the Flashes to regain the lead on senior guard Stephanie Gibson’s first bucket of the game, a 3-pointer to claim a 56-55 lead.

From that point on, both teams traded possessions with neither team leading by more than one, until the bucket by Thomas sealed the game for the Eagles.

The fate of the Flashes will be decided in the next few days as the team waits to find out whether they will have a chance to compete in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament or the Women’s Basketball Invite.

Contact Matt Lofgren at [email protected].