Defense leads women’s basketball to win in season opener

Brad Tansey

A strong defensive effort aided the Kent State women’s basketball team to its first win of the season Friday against Canisius.

The Flashes (1-0) finished the game with 14 steals en route to the 60-54 victory. The defense forced 27 Canisius turnovers in the game.

Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said the defensive effort showed how hard his team has been working as of late.

“We tried to play hard defense and we did so for most of the game,” Lindsay said. “Those steals were the result of hard work and effort, more than anything.”

The Kent State defense came up strong in the second half as it held the Golden Griffin offense to 29.4 percent from 3-point range.

“They got some easy looks in the first half, and we knew going into the game they had some good shooters,” senior guard Jamilah Humes said. “It was definitely a key focus for us heading into second half.”

As the Golden Griffins were making a comeback late in the second half, the Flashes needed to find a burst.

After a timeout by Canisius (0-1) with just over four minutes left in the game, senior guard Stephanie Gibson came up with a key steal topped off by a layup to give the Flashes a 53-47 lead.

“We definitely needed a stop,” Humes said. “They were getting points at the free throw line and we needed to end that. Then, Stephanie (Gibson) came up with the biggest stop of the night with a steal.”

The Golden Griffins managed to tie the score at 53 with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left in the contest. After a timeout by Kent State, Humes hit a jumper to give the team a two-point lead.

“We just needed to get stops and get something offensively,” Lindsay said. “We had three turnovers in a row before that. We didn’t talk about the game being tied, but we needed to make something happen.”

After a missed three pointer and turnover from Canisius, senior center Ellie Shields hit a key layup to give the team a four-point lead.

The Flashes were led by seniors Chenel Harris, Taisja Jones and Humes, who had three steals apiece.

“They did what they do, and that’s playing hard, especially defensively,” Lindsay said.

Humes finished Kent State offensively, scoring a team-high 13 points, eight of which came in the second half.

Seniors Chenel Harris and Stephanie Gibson rounded Kent State’s top scorers with Gibson adding12 points and Harris scoring 10 points.

“Of anyone on the team, (Gibson’s) the one that’s capable of playing a full game,” Lindsay said. “She’s in the best shape of anyone.”

Gibson played the entire game for the Flashes.

The first half was close as both teams never had more than a six-point lead on the other. There were nine lead changes in the half.

Humes said the victory will help the team for tomorrow’s game at Northeastern, which is set for 7 p.m.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it gives us good momentum going into the next game,” Humes said. “We’ll continue to grow. We have good chemistry, and our freshmen gave us some positive minutes, which was a big help.”

Contact Brad Tansey at [email protected].