Women improve to 5-1 with win over Seahawks

Josh Johnston

Kowalska scores 22 as Flashes beat UNC-Wilmington, 69-54

For the first time in a while, the Kent State women’s basketball team didn’t need to rely on a late comeback to win.

The Flashes (5-1) led by as many as 17 points in a 69-54 victory over UNC-Wilmington last night at Trask Coliseum in Wilmington, N.C.

Game Notes:

Live and die by the 3: The Flashes nailed their first four three-point attempts against UNC-Wilmington. Kent State hit seven shots from outside the arc, going 7-of-15, compared to only two made by the Seahawks.

Coast to coast: With the win over the Seahawks in North Carolina, Kent State has earned victories on both sides of the U.S. Sunday, the Flashes beat Seattle 89-77 in Seattle.

Lucky seven: The Flashes took their first win ever against a Colonial Athletic Association opponent last night. Previously Kent State had lost six games to five different opponents in the CAA.

Coming home… sort of: With three straight road games in the books, Kent State travels back to Northeast Ohio to play at Cleveland State on Saturday. So far, the Flashes are 2-1 in a six-game road stretch.

“We did rely on big plays at one point in the game to keep us in that lead,” junior guard Rachel Bennett said, “but it’s nice not to be down at crunch time and have that stress put on you where you’ve got to keep the lead and win the game in the last couple of minutes.”

The 54 points scored by the Seahawks were the least number of points a team has scored against Kent State this year. The Flashes’ defense has held three opponents to under 60 points so far this season.

“I thought we did a pretty good job trying to take away some of the strengths of (UNC-Wilmington),” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “We did a pretty good job of limiting people that normally score. They didn’t get a lot of great shots in the game.”

The Flashes held the Seahawks’ top scorer, sophomore forward Brittany Blackwell, to only nine points. Kent State’s top scorer, senior center Anna Kowalska, wasn’t slowed at all by UNC-Wilmington. Kowalska hit a season-high 22 points to lead the Flashes for the third straight game.

UNC-Wilmington was able to close to within six-points with less than five minutes to play in the game. Much of that comeback came off of free throws, as the Seahawks made 13 of 14 attempts at the line.

For most of the game, however, Kent State held a comfortable double-digit lead behind 48 percent shooting from the field. UNC-Wilmington was held to 30 percent shooting in the game.

“We shot the ball pretty well,” Lindsay said. “We still turned the ball over 23 times with some shoddy passes and shoddy decision making, but when we got shots, we knocked down a decent amount.”

Lindsay added that the high number of turnovers by the Flashes is a concern.

“The turnovers can cost you a game,” he said. “It could have cost us the game today. We just didn’t take care of the ball sometimes and we were just careless with some things. That’s one of the things we have to work on.”

Last night’s win was the second straight victory on the road for Kent State. Lindsay said the early road wins will help the team down the road during the Mid-American Conference season.

“There’s a lot of traveling, and you get tired of traveling, but I think it toughens you up mentally,” he said. “It prepares you to play on the road in the conference, which is what we’re trying to do.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].