Women’s team downs Miami

Lance Lysowski

Jones leads KSU with 23 points

Missed shots and missed opportunities plagued the offensive side of the ball when the Kent State women’s basketball team first defeated conference opponent Miami 50-39 on Jan. 9.

Saturday’s matchup of the rivalry was much different.

The Flashes (16-8, 9-3 Mid-American Conference) beat the RedHawks 84-75, pulling away with an 18-3 run early in the second half.

After coming within a point of the Flashes in the opening minute of the second half, the RedHawks’ offense was held scoreless for nearly five minutes — a time when Kent State built a 51-38 lead. Junior forward Taisja Jones connected on two free throws with 6:52 left in the game, which gave the Flashes a 17-point lead.

Jones finished with a team-high 23 points and 10 rebounds and shot 12-for-15 from the free throw line.

Kent State coach Bob Lindsay attributed the Flashes’ victory to their defensive awareness after the break and several reserve players stepping up in key situations.

“I thought we came out defending a little bit better and executing a little bit better,” Lindsay said. “We were in foul trouble all the way through the game, especially with (junior guard Jamilah) Humes and (senior center Lorriane) Odhiambo. I thought the players that came in, and took up some of those minutes did a good job.”

Junior forward Chenel Harris stepped in when Odhiambo was forced to sit due to foul trouble. Harris saw time at power forward and center, showing offensive prowess at both positions. Harris scored a season-high 17 points and recorded five rebounds.

Harris said she was told to be ready for the playing time, while Lindsay said the junior forward added a unique element to the team’s attack.

“Chenel came in, and she had to play some minutes at the five and at the four,” Lindsay said. “She adds a little bit of a different dimension to our team. She can put the ball on the floor a little bit, and she can make the 3-point shot. She’s not your conventional player at the five. Overall, I thought she had a good game.”

While the Flashes held the advantage in the second half, the first half was back-and-forth throughout. The teams exchanged leads six times and were tied five times. The RedHawks shot 52 percent from the field in the first half, but dropped to 40 percent in the second.

Senior guard Rachel Bennett said the second meeting between the teams was a bit different because of the defensive game plan by the RedHawks (7-18, 5-7) and defensive lapses by the Flashes.

“They came out and defended us differently,” Bennett said. “We just gave up too many baseline passes to the 3-point shooter on side, and they hit some shots. They hit some shots that they didn’t hit in the last game. I think that made the difference in the scoring.”

Bennett, along with Odhiambo and senior forward Yoshica Spears were honored in a ceremony before the game as this year’s departing seniors.

Bennett shined in front of the home crowd, totaling 18 points, while Odhiambo and Spears combined for eight points and seven rebounds.

Lindsay said Bennett played one of her best games of the season, while the other seniors played well.

“Offensively, it was probably (Rachel’s) best game of the season. She made free throws, she stepped up and made some key shots for us, she ran our offense and she defended competently on (Miami guard) Courtney Osborne. I thought Lorriane came in and played hard, but got into foul trouble. (Senior forward Yoshica Spears) is a very consistent player. Effort-wise, she gives you what she gives you. All of those kids had a very good game.”

The Flashes will look to improve their conference record on Saturday when the team travels to Athens to play Ohio. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Ohio at noon.

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].