Eastern Michigan beat the Kent State women’s basketball team 71-59 Saturday after raining down 3-pointers in the first half and ruining the Flashes’ (6-14, 3-5 Mid-American Conference) comeback attempt in the second half.
The Eagles connected on nine 3-pointers in the first half and led by as many as 24. Kent State started the scoring off when freshman forward Ellie Shields hit a layup, but the Flashes never led again in the game.
The Flashes entered the second half down 41-22 but cut into the lead by going on a 10-0 run early in the second half. The Flashes came within seven points with 11 minutes left in the second half, but the Eagles responded immediately with an 11-0 run.
“I think this game for us was more of a mental breakdown than a physical breakdown,” coach Bob Lindsay said. “Our physical mistakes were caused by poor mental preparation.”
Freshman forward Chenel Harris led the Flashes in scoring with 18 points, a new career high. Harris shot 0-of-3 from the floor in the first half but came back strong in the second by shooting 7-of-9.
Freshman forward Ellie Shields added 13 points and eight rebounds after posting a career-high and team season-high 31 points Wednesday in the win against Toledo. Junior guard Asheley Harkins contributed as well during Saturday’s game, with 10 points and four steals.
Shields said the team came into the game too focused on Eastern Michigan’s 6-foot, 5-inch senior center Colleen Russell to react to the Eagles’ 3-point threats. Russell only scored 11 points, while the Eagles scored 30 points on 3-pointers.
“I felt like we all played intimidated, including myself,” Shields said. “They put a lot of pressure on us and it seemed like we couldn’t make a layup and none of the easy shots went in.”
The Eagles challenged the Flashes’ seven-player roster by playing 11 and scoring 25 bench points compared to Kent State’s eight points, all coming from junior forward Alisa Brinkman.
Senior guard Kivilcim Yamanoglu played the most minutes for Eastern Michigan with 29, while Harkins played the entire game for the Flashes. Kent State’s four other starters, sophomore guard Rachel Bennett, freshman guard Stephanie Gibson, Harris and Shields all played 30 or more minutes.
The Flashes entered the game after an offensive explosion against Toledo Wednesday, when the team scored a season-high 87 points. Harris said tough defense from the Eagles prevented a repeat performance.
“I think we couldn’t carry any momentum in because Eastern Michigan’s defense was a lot more aggressive,” Harris said. “It overwhelmed us as a team.”
Kent State won the turnover battle 25-27, but the Flashes gave up 17 in the first half, leading to 14 points for the Eagles.
Lindsay said one of the few bright spots on the day was the way the team adjusted in the second half.
“I think the second half was obviously better than the first,” Lindsay said. “We just didn’t have enough to push us over the top.”
Kent State returns to action this Saturday against Central Michigan at 7 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center.
Harris hits another high note
Freshman forward Chenel Harris’ 18 points at Eastern Michigan marks the third time in six games she has recorded a new career high. Harris set previous highs of 16 points against Bowling Green and 17 points at Western Michigan.
Key players shutout in first half
Two of the Flashes starters, sophomore guard Rachel Bennett and Harris went a combined 0-for-3 in the first half for 0 points. The duo combined for 24 of the team’s 37 points in the second half.
Good career moves for the Flashes
Saturday marked the sixth consecutive game a Flash has set a new career high in points. Besides Harris, junior center Anna Kowalska (30), junior guard Asheley Harkins (24) and freshman forward Ellie Shields (31) set career highs against Akron, Buffalo and Toledo.
Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected]