Women’s basketball drops conference opener

Josh Johnston

Kowalska: ‘We beat ourselves’

The Kent State women’s basketball team held Bowling Green out of the paint for most of last night at the M.A.C. Center. Falcons coach Curt Miller even admitted after the game he couldn’t figure out the Flashes’ 2-3 zone defense.

“(Kent State’s) pressure in their zone is unlike pressure you see in a lot of people’s zones,” Miller said. “All night long, we were pushed to 30, 35 feet away from the basket. I’m not sure we ever figured out their pressure.”

Ultimately, that didn’t matter as Bowling Green (12-2, 1-0 Mid American Conference) won 77-71 over Kent State (11-2, 0-1) in both teams’ conference opener.

The Falcons contented themselves with shooting long shots and outrunning Kent State last night. Bowling Green knocked down 13 shots from behind the arc on 50 percent shooting.

“We prepared coming in knowing that they shot the ball really well from the 3-point line,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. We’d gone through everything that they did offensively. We just at times didn’t get to the players we needed to.”

Bowling Green guard Tracy Pontius made five of her seven 3-point attempts to lead the team. The Falcons’ top three guards – Pontius, senior Lindsey Goldsberry and freshman Jessica Slagle – combined for 36 points.

Kent State’s three starting guards – junior Rachel Bennett and sophomores Stephanie Gibson and Jamilah Humes – tallied 24 points.

“If you listen to all the experts talk about college basketball, they always tell you college basketball is a guard game,” Lindsay said. “I think that pretty much held true (last night).

“If you look at the game in terms of the production level out of both sets of guards – (Bowling Green’s) guards and ours – you’ll find that I think we were outplayed by a large margin at the guard position. I think that was the difference in the game.”

The Flashes started the game with an 8-0 run and stretched their lead to 20-7 midway through the first half. Senior center Anna Kowalska fueled the burst by scoring eight of her 16 first-half points.

Bowling Green responded with a 22-2 run, which included back-to-back-to-back 3-pointerss by forward Jen Uhl and Pontius. The Flashes only sank one shot from outside the perimeter in the first half – a last-second desperation heave by Gibson.

Kent State chipped away at Bowling Green’s lead in the second half, coming within two points with about five minutes left to play, but was never able to top the Falcons.

After carrying the team in the first half, Kowalska was limited to four points in the second. Sophomore forward Chenel Harris said feeding the ball to the 6-foot-4 senior became difficult later in the game.

“Getting the ball to Anna is always a priority of the team,” Harris said. “She’s our top scorer and one of the best players in the MAC. I think as we progress through the season it’s going to be harder to get the ball to her because she’s such a dominant force inside and people focus on her so much.

“It’s not that we weren’t trying, it just gets more difficult, especially as the game goes on. In the beginning she was just hitting shots on them like no tomorrow. They adjusted well and gave us a little run for our money.”

Lindsay called Kowalska’s second half performance “a product of our guard play.”

“I wasn’t happy with our guard play (last night),” he said. “I didn’t think we played very well as a guard group … Going into the game we wanted to get the ball inside to Kowalska. She had some touches, but not anywhere near probably where she could have. I mean, they couldn’t guard her. They didn’t have anybody that could guard her.”

“I don’t think this team is better than us,” Kowalska said. “This game, we beat ourselves … I think both of those teams, Kent State and Bowling Green, are as good as (each other). The difference was ourselves, how we came out to the game. We beat ourselves.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].