Women’s basketball ends regular season with loss

Jeff Russ

The Kent State women’s basketball team started play Nov. 11 with a 74-68 loss to St. Bonaventure. Yesterday at Alumni Arena in Buffalo, the team finished its season much like it started, with a 50-44 loss to Buffalo.

A team that started the season with a lot of unknown and inexperience finished with an 8-player roster and a game that had no effect on postseason seeding.

The Flashes struggled early in the final game of the season. They didn’t hit their first field goal until the 14:46 mark, when sophomore Rachel Bennett hit two straight shots to give the Flashes an early lead.

Kent State foul trouble in the first half was a factor. Junior guard Asheley Harkins and freshman forward Chenel Harris sat out most of the half with foul trouble. The Flashes shot only 21 percent in the first half, but managed to take the lead late in the half. Buffalo guard Stephanie Bennett, cousin of Kent State’s Rachel Bennett, hit two 3-pointers and the Bulls went into the second half up 23-19.

It was much of the same early in the second half, as the Flashes struggled to get the ball down low into the post to freshman forward Ellie Shields and junior forward Anna Kowalska.

“The very first part of the half, we were going up soft and finishing shots, and we’d get bumped and all of the sudden, the shot was going off the guide wire,” associate head coach Lori Bodnar said on WHLO-AM 640’s postgame show. “That’s something we have to still work on. I think it’s more of a mental game with those two.

“I think it’s a good thing that people are so worried about our inside play that they are putting three people on them, but then again we are having a hard time relocating the ball and getting it back in and looking to score,” she said.

As a result of the Bulls’ emphasis on the post, the Flashes were forced to put up many bad shots and only shot 25 percent in the second. The Bulls built up a 15-point lead midway through the half. The Flashes would cut the lead to single digits with four-and-a-half minutes to play.

Freshman Chenel Harris hit a late 3-pointer to cut the lead to five, 47-42, with 1:30 left in the game. But the Flashes couldn’t capitalize on three scoring opportunities with less than a minute to play and wound up on the losing side. Bennett, who played the entire game, felt the effects of fatigue and missed some key shots late.

“Rachel’s been put into that situation the last two games where she has played 40 minutes and your legs are just killing you,” Bodnar said. “She had two great offensive rebounds and it was hitting the bottom of the rim because she didn’t have any legs left at the end of the game.”

Harris ended her impressive regular season with a double-double. With the Ontario native’s family in the crowd, Harris scored 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Bennett scored seven points and a career-high 14 rebounds. The Flashes shot only 25 percent from the floor and recorded 19 turnovers.

The Flashes couldn’t stop Buffalo’s Heather Turner, as she recorded 17 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.

Kent State finished the regular season 8-20, its worst season record since 1989. The Flashes start the Mid-American Conference Championships Monday at 2:30 with a game against North Illinois at Quicken Loans Arena.

Contact sports editor Jeff Russ at [email protected].