Women’s basketball drops another close conference game

Golden+Flashes+Womens+basketball+plays+Clarion+on+Sat%2C+December+11%2C+2021+and+won+89+to+43.+Senior+guard+Hannah+Young+%2832%29+jumps+and+tries+to+shoot+the+ball.

Golden Flashes Women’s basketball plays Clarion on Sat, December 11, 2021 and won 89 to 43. Senior guard Hannah Young (32) jumps and tries to shoot the ball.

Kent State’s women’s basketball team (10-7 overall, 2-6 Mid-American Conference) lost its sixth conference game of the season by a final score of 61-55 against the Northern Illinois University Huskies (7-9, 4-4 MAC) Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a tough loss,” coach Todd Starkey said on Kent State’s Golden Flashes Radio postgame show. “A really difficult shooting night for us. I mean we haven’t played in 10 days and it’s like coming off of a Christmas break again. We’re a much better shooting team than that.”

Wednesday’s game was the Huskies fourth in seven days due to COVID postponements being rescheduled while the Flashes had a 10 day lay-off prior to Wednesday.

KSU is in 10th place in the MAC. NIU is tied for sixth with two other teams. 

“We’ve just been out of rhythm since Christmas break,” Starkey said. “You play seven games and then you’re off for 10 days and now we play one game and then off for a week. It’s just hard to find a rhythm.”

Kent State got off to a solid start, scoring 16 points in the opening quarter on 40 percent shooting and found themselves up by one point after one quarter.

Things took a different turn in the second quarter as the Huskie defense held the Flashes scoreless for over seven minutes in the quarter.

Sophomore guard Casey Santoro knocked down a couple free throws to end the scoring drought. KSU went on to make just one field goal in the second quarter, a three-point basket by freshman forward Bridget Dunn. The team was outscored 14 to eight in the quarter and shot 8.3 percent from the field in the second. The Flashes took a 29-23 deficit into the locker room at halftime.

Kent’s offensive woes continued in the third as the team only made three field goals, but sank eight free throws to total 14 points in the quarter. KSU went into the fourth quarter down 44-37.

The Flashes started to make a comeback in the fourth led by junior forward Nila Blackford who scored 15 of her 24 points in the final quarter. 

Kent State came back and tied the game at 55 points with 30.2 seconds remaining in the game. However, the Huskies would pick up three points in two trips to the free throw line and with 22.4 seconds left, the Flashes were down 58-55. Junior guard Clare Kelly had a chance to tie the game with 18 seconds left, but she misfired on her three-point attempt and the Huskies went on to win the contest.

The Flashes shot 32.7 percent overall and 17.6 percent from three-point range. Four of the Flashes six three point makes happened in the first quarter, another was the team’s lone field goal in the second quarter and the final three were made in the fourth quarter.

“I thought that 30 of the 34 threes that we got were wide open and great looks,” Starkey said. “I mean we just couldn’t buy a shot.”

Leading the way for Kent State was Blackford with a double-double that consisted of 24 points and 15 rebounds.

“I’ve liked her aggressiveness down low,” Starkey said. “We’re trying to make sure we’re getting her good touches in good spots and it worked. We got good scores from there.”

Senior forward Lindsey Thall with 11 points and Santoro with nine points and three assists were the Flashes other two offensive scorers.

NIU shot 40 percent overall and 44.4 percent from three-point range. The Huskies were led by junior forward A’Jah Davis with 16 points and seven rebounds, redshirt senior guard Janae Poisson with 13 points and junior guard Chelby Koker, who left in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, with 13 points and five assists.

Defensively, the Flashes forced 10 turnovers compared to the Huskies 12 forced turnovers. Kent State narrowly won the rebounding battle 37-36. The Flashes have avoided being outrebounded the entire season so far.

“Obviously, you can tell we’re out of rhythm right now, but we have to fight through that,” Starkey said. “We have a lot of games and we’re going to make February our month. We’re going to be really good in February.”

Kent State will have seven days off before its next game on Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. against Central Michigan University (3-14, 1-7 MAC), which is in last place, in Kent.

Kathryn Rajnicek is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]