Success comes in threes for women’s basketball

Josh Johnston

Flashes lead the MAC in 3-point percentage

Senior center Anna Kowalska jumps for a layup and scores two points during the Flashes’ game against Ohio Saturday. Rachel Kilroy | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Basketball teams live and die by the 3-pointer, which is especially true for the Kent State women’s basketball team this season.

Kent State ranks second nationally in shooting outside the arc, with a 41.3 shooting percentage, a major reason the Flashes (13-3, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) already have four more victories than all of last season going into tonight’s game at Akron.

“3-point shooting has been pretty consistent all the way through the season,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “There have been two strong points offensively: our free-throw shooting as a team and our 3-point shooting as a team.”

INFOBOX THE GAME Kent State (13-3, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) at Akron (6-11, 1-3)

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: James A. Rhodes Arena, Akron

Radio: WHLO-AM 640 (Ty Linder)

Led by 19-of-37 perimeter shooting from sophomore guard Stephanie Gibson, the Flashes have relied on 3-pointers for success. Kent State shot 52 percent from the 3-point line in wins against Buffalo and Ohio.

However, the Flashes haven’t had nearly as much success defending 3-pointers this season, ranking third-to-last in the MAC.

In their first two conference games, against Bowling Green and Miami, the Flashes allowed 21-of-45 shooting from the 3-point line and lost both games. Kent State has given up a conference-leading 35 baskets from the perimeter in the MAC.

Some of the Flashes’ failure at guarding the perimeter can be attributed to their 2-3 zone defense.

“(Kent State’s) pressure in their zone is unlike pressure you see in a lot of people’s zones,” Bowling Green coach Curt Miller said after his team’s 77-71 win over the Flashes on Jan. 7. “All night long, we were pushed to 30, 35 feet away from the basket. I’m not sure we ever figured out their pressure.”

The Flashes’ 3-point shooting has bailed out their recently struggling frontcourt. Senior center Anna Kowalska, who averaged more than 18 points a game during the non-conference season, has scored only 11 points a game in the last three games.

Picking up the slack has been Kent State’s guards, led by freshman Jena Stutzman, who ranks seventh in the nation in 3-point percentage. The Flashes’ top three guards – junior Rachel Bennett, sophomore Jamilah Humes and freshman Jena Stutzman – combine for more than 30 points a game.

“Regardless of whether it’s us or any other college team,” Lindsay said, “the quality of your guard play goes a long way for how successful your team is.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].