Flashes’ defense stifles Huskies in blowout win

Josh Johnston

Women’s team bounces back from CMU loss

The Kent State women’s basketball team missed two-thirds of its shots against Northern Illinois. Senior center and low-post powerhouse Anna Kowalska shot 2-of-11 in the first 33 minutes of play.

Still, the Flashes (16-5, 5-4 Mid-American Conference) didn’t mind their offensive problems, as they beat the Huskies 67-50 Saturday afternoon at the M.A.C. Center.

“Our main idea before the game even (started) was defense,” said Kowalska, who finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds. “We focused more on defense, and then the offense just runs with the defense.

Game notes:

Humes from long range: Sophomore guard Jamilah Humes tied a career high in 3-pointers made Saturday, going 2-of-2. Still, Lindsay said he doesn’t picture Humes becoming a consistent outside threat. Said Lindsay: “I just don’t look when she shoots.”

Freebies: While limiting the Huskies’ trips to the foul line to 14, the Flashes visited the free throw line 33 times Saturday and converted 24 of those attempts. Eight of junior guard Rachel Bennett’s 12 points came from the line.

Going post-al: Senior center Anna Kowalska scored 19 points this weekend to continue her scoring frenzy from the low post. Over the last five games, she’s averaging nearly 20 points and more than nine boards a game.

“We missed a lot of shots, but we also had offensive rebounds, put in second-chance shots and then came back on defense.”

The win was Kent State’s best defensive effort against a MAC team so far this season. The Huskies (11-11, 6-3) were held to 28.6 percent shooting from the field, and the Flashes outrebounded them 51-36.

For most of the game, Kent State pressured Northern Illinois’s frontcourt, forcing the Huskies to take shots from well outside the perimeter. As a result, the Huskies shot 7-of-25 from 3-point range and only made 14 trips to the foul line.

The defensive stand was a relief for Kent State coach Bob Lindsay, who saw his team give up 109 points Wednesday to Central Michigan.

Breaking down the game: Player of the game: Senior center Anna Kowalska (19 points, 13 rebounds)

Kowalska dominated the Huskies’ frontcourt, holding Northern Illinois to 14 points in the paint and putting multiple players into foul trouble. On offense, Kowalska hit back-to-back-to-back jumpers in the span of a minute in the second half to salvage her previous 2-of-11 shooting.

The game was over when:

The Flashes put together a 10-0 run midway through the first half to shut down a 8-0 run by the Huskies. Northern Illinois managed to hang around for a while, but never regained any momentum.

Stat of the game:

Twenty, as in the number of offensive rebounds by Kent State. Coming into the game, Northern Illinois was one of the stingiest teams in the MAC in rebounding, giving up around 34 boards a game. The Flashes tied a season high for offensive rebounds.

“My description of Wednesday is it was Little Bighorn – and we were Custer,” Lindsay said. “. It was like a punt, pass and kick contest. I mean, you shoot, I shoot, you shoot, I shoot and whoever gets the most shots wins. And that’s really what it ended up being.

“(Saturday), it was a different story. We played a lot harder. We matched up a lot better out of our zone. We didn’t give them a lot of inside looks. They only got loose on us a couple of times at the 3-point line.”

For those reasons, the Flashes didn’t mind putting up some of their lowest shooting numbers this season. The 33.3 percent from the field was the second-worst of the season.

“Our offense just comes and goes,” said sophomore guard Jamilah Humes, who scored 17 points. “That’s not really the focus. Really, it’s our defense. Our defense was just so much better in this game than at Central Michigan. . We just came out with a better defensive effort collectively as a team.”

With the win, Kent State recorded its first victory of the season over a team with a winning MAC record. Going into the game Saturday, Northern Illinois was in a three-way tie for first place in the MAC West.

“These guys (Northern Illinois) were a heck of a team,” Lindsay said. “They lost to (20-2) Bowling Green in overtime last week. They’ve beaten an eastern division team, every one of them, on the road. (They’re) tough physically, they shoot it really well (and) they’re well-coached. This is a good win for us.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].