Kent State Buffaloed again

Josh Johnston

Women’s team upset by Bulls in MAC tourney

As the Kent State women’s basketball team learned Friday afternoon, beating an opponent three times in a season is more difficult than it sounds. Even if that team only won two conference games all season.

Kent State lost 66-54 to Buffalo in a quarterfinal game to make a quick exit from the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

Breaking down the game:


Player of the game:

Sophomore forward Kourtney Brown: Sure, Brown scored 16 points for the Bulls, but her biggest impact was on defense, where she tallied four blocks and five steals and shut down Kowalska.

The game was over when…

Kent State walked onto the floor in the second half. For 20 minutes the Flashes never found their rhythm offensively.

Stat of the game:

2-of-9. Senior center Anna Kowalska, one of the Flashes’ best free throw shooters, failed to connect on most of her attempts at the line.

In two regular season games, the Flashes (19-10) beat the Bulls by 18 and 19 points. The Flashes were the second seed in the MAC East, while Buffalo was seeded sixth in the division.

“I just thought we were a step slow, a step behind,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “We held the ball too long. We really didn’t move the ball in a fashion that we needed to based on what they were doing defensively.”

Early on, the Bulls double-teamed and eliminated the Flashes’ top scorer, senior Anna Kowalska. With the 6-foot-4-inch center not producing, Kent State was without a leader on the court.

“I didn’t come out playing hard from the beginning,” Kowalska said. “I guess that was my fault. (Buffalo) just used that. They double-teamed me on the post. I just didn’t play hard.”

Other players for Kent State failed to step up offensively when Kowalska was trapped by Buffalo forwards Kourtney Brown and Jessica Fortman, Lindsay said. As a team, the Flashes shot just 35.1 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from the free throw line.

“When Kowalska really wasn’t scoring today and really doing what she needed to do to get good shots,” Lindsay said, “. our go-to players, the players that we wanted to get some points for us, really didn’t respond.”

Sophomore forward Chenel Harris tried to be that go-to player, Lindsay said, but she shot 2-of-11 from the field in the second half and scored nine points on the day.

“(Harris) tried to be that player,” Lindsay said. “If she had a good offensive game, we’re playing (Saturday). That’s the nature of the game.”

Despite all of Kent State’s offensive problems, free throws made the difference in the game. While most of the Flashes’ 17 attempts clanked off the front of the basket, Buffalo hit 24 of its 30 attempts at the line.

For Kent State, the loss was a disappointing finish to a promising season. The Flashes entered the conference season with an 11-1 record, but then played .500 ball in the MAC.

“The biggest challenge of a basketball team is to progress both offensively and defensively as the year goes on – to learn by your mistakes and make yourself a better team because of them,” Lindsay said. “I don’t think we ever did that. … We really never improved to the extent that I wanted us to.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].