Dry spells doom Kent State women in home opener loss to Cincinnati

Allen Moff | Staff Writer Published:

Better days lie ahead for Danielle O'Banion.

Days when the aggressive playing style Kent State's rookie women's basketball coach is implementing begins taking hold, when the layups start falling, and when all the hard work her Golden Flashes are putting in actually bears some fruit on the floor.

But until then, the growth process will be a struggle for the Flashes, who dropped their home opener to Cincinnati 59-41 Monday night at the M.A.C. Center and fell to 0-3 on the young season, with all three losses coming by 14 points or more.

"It's frustrating, but the thing that I'm proud of our team for was they kept playing," said O'Banion. "I was pleasantly surprised to see that we outscored Cincinnati in the paint (20-14). I thought we got to the foul line by continually trying to get some touches for Diamon (senior forward Diamon Beckford)."

"We got shots that could help us be successful, we just didn't put 'em in," O'Banion said.

Shooting woes continued to plague Kent State (0-3), which entered the game shooting 33 percent from the field and 18 percent from the 3-point line. Those numbers were repeated against the Bearcats (2-1), as the Flashes hit just 29 percent of their field goals (14-of-49) and 20 percent of their 3-pointers (3-of-15).

The shooting percentage plummeted to 19 percent in the second half, when Cincinnati outscored Kent State 30-15.

"We called a couple sets and we got some open looks, and we just couldn't knock 'em down when it came down to making bunnies as coach would say," said Beckford.

Those missed "bunnies" led to poor starts to both halves, which did in the Flashes.

Kent State didn't manage its first points of the game until senior guard Trisha Krewson hit a 3-pointer at the 16:23 mark of the first half, and fell behind 11-3 five minutes into the game. The Flashes were able to scramble back into the game, trimming a 10-point deficit to 29-26 at halftime following a layup by Beckford with six seconds to play.

"We were very committed in the first half to our defensive gameplan," said O'Banion. "We exposed a weakness that we were able to see on film as far as forcing them to take outside shots."

But Kent State opened the second half with another lengthy offensive dry spell, going scoreless until Beckford hit a pair of free throws with 15:40 to play. By then, Cincinnati had stretched its advantage to 38-28.

The Flashes made one last run, cutting the lead to 40-35 on a layup by Amber Dunlap with 11:27 remaining. But the Bearcats scored the next six points to take command, and steadily pulled away down the stretch.

"The second half was frustrating from a coaching standpoint, because we got away from what was effective for us defensively," said O'Banion. "Cincinnati made a good adjustment; they put a lineup of shooters in the game in the second half. They had their weakside players a little more persistent looking like they wanted the basketball -- I don't know if they really did, but they did enough for us to be nervous enough to cover out rather than clogging up the paint like we did so well in the first half.

"We talk a lot to our team about the difference between winning behavior and losing behavior. With winning behavior, you stay steadfast to the gameplan, even in the midst of those runs. With losing behavior, you start to doubt and you start to deviate from the plan. That's all part of our growth process."

Beckford, who led the Flashes with 10 points and hit all eight of her free-throw attempts, said the rough start to the season doesn't have the players hanging their heads.

"Each game, each practice, we're definitely getting better," she said. "It's really important for us to be great in the MAC, and I know we're gonna be great in the MAC."

Still, O'Banion believes the Flashes' enthusiasm needs to be fueled with a victory soon.

"I think our players are doing everything from an emotional standpoint. They're doing everything physically except for making shots sometimes. They deserve to win," said O'Banion. "They need that affirmation. And we'll get there."

nnn

Email: amoff@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9445

Twitter: @MoffRC

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.