Flashes fall to Ball State

Josh Johnston

Inconsistent play plagues the women’s basketball team in 77-70 loss

Rebounding continues to plague the Kent State women’s basketball team, as it fell 77-70 to Ball State last night in Muncie, Ind.

The Flashes (16-6, 5-5 Mid-American Conference) were outrebounded by 20 in the type of rebounding performance that has become a recurring theme this season.

“It’s just consistency,” said sophomore forward Chenel Harris, who led the team with 24 points. “We can’t just (rebound) for one game and just not do it the other.”

Inconsistent play on the boards by Kent State has led to inconsistent defense. Saturday against the Huskies, the Flashes grabbed 51 rebounds in their best defensive effort of the conference season.

Last night against the Cardinals, Kent State gave up 17 offensive boards that led to 20 second-chance points for MAC West-leading Ball State.

“We didn’t hustle to the ball,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “It’s a very simple explanation. If we’re not hustling to the ball, then they’ll get it.”

Ball State (16-8, 8-2) began the game with a 7-2 run and led for most of the first half. The Flashes managed to take a three-point lead with 12:05 remaining off a 3-pointer by junior guard Yoshica Spears and a layup by senior guard Asheley Harkins.

The Cardinals leveled the score with one of their seven first-half 3-pointers and then stole away Kent State’s ensuing possession. After picking up two offensive boards, Ball State junior forward Danielle Gratton made a layup to put the Cardinals up for good. Ball State went into halftime with a 40-34 lead.

Kent State closed to within four after the break off of baskets by senior center Anna Kowalska and sophomore guard Jamilah Humes. Over the next six minutes, the Cardinals nearly blanked the Flashes’ offense in an 18-6 run for their largest lead of the game, 60-44.

Ball State junior guard Audrey McDonald hit two of her six 3-pointers in the run. She led the Cardinals with 22 points.

“A lot of (her shots) were off of their offensive rebounds,” Humes said. “So everybody’s going toward the ball and we’re already out of position, and she’s standing there … outside the 3-point line, and she was open.”

Despite staying close to Ball State with offensive bursts by Humes, who scored 15 second-half points, the Flashes never closed the gap as the Cardinals won their fourth straight meeting against Kent State in Worthen Arena.

The Flashes’ leading scorer, Kowalska, was held to a season-low six points by the Cardinals’ double team. After getting into foul trouble early in the first half, Kowalska failed to get a shot off in her 10 minutes on the court before halftime.

Kent State started 6-0 on the road this season, but last night’s loss marks the team’s fourth road conference loss. With three road trips over the next four games, the Flashes will need to figure out how to win away from the M.A.C. Center, Harris said.

“When we’re on the road, we need to pick up our defensive intensity,” she said. “When you’re playing at home, you’re already hyped and intense and you’ve got the crowd behind you. When you’re on the road, defensively you’ve got to play that much harder.”

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Josh Johnston at [email protected].