Flashes lose lead, game with second-half collapse

Tyler McIntosh

Kent State senior forward Mallorie Griffith and Ball State’s Julie DeMuth battle for the jump ball yesterday at Worthen Arena. The Flashes lost to the Cardinals 79-64 and will play 7 p.m. Wednesday at Ohio. DERICK BRATTAIN | BALL STATE DAILY NEWS

Credit: Jason Hall

An uncharacteristic second-half collapse led to a 74-69 loss for the Kent State women’s basketball team against Mid-American Conference West leader Ball State yesterday. The loss broke Kent State’s four-game win streak.

The Flashes took a nine-point lead into the half, but that lead dwindled to a two-point deficit with just under four minutes to play. They were able to tie the game, 64-64, but freshman guard Audrey McDonald, the MAC leader in 3-point percentage, hit a 3. It was her only basket of the night, and it put the Cardinals up for good with two minutes to play.

“When McDonald hit that big 3 in the corner, the air was let out of our bubble, so to speak,” associate head coach Lori Bodnar told WHLO-AM 640’s Tom Linder.

If McDonald’s clutch 3 was the knockout punch, the seven-minute stretch in the second half when Kent State was outscored 13-6 was a barrage of body shots that left the Flashes wobbling. Kent State shot just 33 percent (9-of-27) in the second half.

“We weren’t making the best decisions with the ball,” Bodnar said. “We were trying to get to the rim, and we would take two dribbles and pick it up and look for somebody else to do it. It seemed like everyone else wanted somebody else to take charge.

“We became a little timid that way and I think even on the defensive end.”

There are two things the Flashes (12-10, 8-3 MAC) rarely have to worry about-outscoring opponents in the second half and giving up halftime leads. For the season, Kent State has outscored opponents 856-747 in the second half and is 9-3 when ahead at halftime.

But the team didn’t enjoy its typical second-half success against Ball State (18-4, 9-2 MAC).

Bodnar said the team’s mentality has been hard to predict.

“You don’t know with this team which way you are going to go,” Bodnar said. “It’s like trying to get yourself up to comeback instead of relaxing and trying not to lose.”

The Flashes shot 8-for-12 from long distance in the first half. Two of the 3’s came from senior guard Kerrie James, who scored a career-high 15 points and had six assists.

Senior guard Kristin Peoples led Kent State with 17 points, six assists and four steals.

Contact women’s basketball reporter Tyler McIntosh at [email protected].