Flashes fail to overcome first-half deficit to Eastern Michigan

Photo by Thomas Song

Photo by Thomas Song

Lance Lysowski

The Kent State women’s basketball team could not overcome its first-half play that reflected the weather outside the M.A.C. Center last night as the Flashes’ home winning streak ended to Eastern Michigan in a 75-66 loss.

After turnovers crippled Kent State (15-6, 6-3 Mid-American Conference) in the first half, the team attempted to adjust its offensive play to cope with the Eagles’ tough defense.

It was too little too late.

The Flashes continued to hand the ball over to Eastern Michigan (16-7, 7-2 MAC), limiting their opportunities to narrow the 17-point halftime deficit.

Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said the team’s lack of ball security was pivotal in the conference loss.

“You turn the ball over 29 times, you’re not going to win a game,” Lindsay said. “I don’t think our seniors responded.”

With just over three minutes left in the game and the Flashes trailing 66-60, Kent State took the ball into Eastern Michigan’s zone. The Flashes tried working around the Eagles’ zone defense with several passes, but senior forward Taisja Jones threw the ball right into the hands of Eagles senior forward Kristin Thomas.

Thomas scored on a lay-in 20 seconds later to give Eastern Michigan an eight point cushion. Kent State senior guard Stephanie Gibson hit two free throws 20 seconds later, but the Flashes could not find an answer for Eagles senior guard Cassie Schrock.

Schrock recorded a 3-point play after being fouled on a lay-up on the ensuing possession, giving Eastern Michigan a comfortable lead once again.

“I think we did really come out as more of a team in the second half better,” senior center Ellie Shields said. “We just had some breakdowns. We have to play better on defense, play harder.”

Kent State tried fouling Eastern Michigan late in the game to turn possession their way, but the Eagles hit their final four charity shots to seal the victory.

From the start of the game, the Eagles’ aggressive defensive play was too much for Kent State to handle. The Flashes turned the ball over at an irregular clip as a result of Eastern Michigan’s quick zone defense.

Kent State turned the ball over 17 times in the first half, which the Eagles turned into 17 points.

Final score

Eastern Michigan: 75

Kent State: 66

Game highlights

  • The Flashes are 15-6 (6-3), 1st in the MAC East
  • This is the Flashes second loss in a row.
  • Taisja Jones led the Flashes with 24 points

After avoiding a collapse early on, the Flashes took a 16-14 lead over the Eagles with 8:07 left in the first half. Then Kent State’s turnovers caught up to them.

The Eagles took an 18-16 lead just over a minute later that they would not surrender. Three Flashes’ turnovers led to Eagles fast breaks in just over a three-minute span. Schrock led Eastern Michigan’s 24-7 run over a six-minute span to close out the half.

Although she struggled in the closing moments of the game, Jones was dominant in her second straight game. The senior forward finished with a team-high 24 points and nine rebounds.

Schrock, who finished the game with 30 points, scored on several fast breaks in the first half after forcing Kent State turnovers. The senior guard accounted for half of the Eagles’ points in the final eight minutes of the first half. Eagles junior guard Tavelyn James added 16 points, while senior guard Sydney Huntley finished with 11 points.

Shields, who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, said that Schrock’s offensive play was too much for Kent State to handle.

“Middle penetration the whole night – that’s all she did and we just didn’t stop it,” Shields said. “I don’t think we did a good job as a team.”

The Flashes began to show signs of life when the Eagles got into foul trouble with just over four minutes remaining in the half, but Eastern Michigan responded with senior guard Sydney Huntley’s 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 13-point cushion.

“We need to come out in the beginning and hit them with the first punch,” Shields said, referring to the early deficit the Flashes had to overcome.

Contact Lance Lysowski at [email protected].