Record-Courier staff report
OXFORD -- The Kent State women's basketball team fought hard and played gritty, but ultimately could not beat Miami on the road on Saturday afternoon, losing 72-62.
"Today was a game about blue-collar, hard-hat basketball," said Kent State coach Danielle O'Banion, "and I thought our team responded positively to that style of play to close out the game. I think we saw how hard it physically is and emotionally is to play that style. We also showed ourselves we're capable of doing it. Unfortunately, Miami sustained that longer throughout the course of the game."
Neither team could get much going offensively at the beginning of the game. At the second media break of the contest with 11:51 on the first-half clock, the teams were shooting a combined 39 percent from the field. Miami (6-12, 2-5 MAC) had a harder time finding the net, not getting its first field goal until six and half minutes into the game.
The tempo did pick up, though, and the RedHawks took a 33-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Miami then went on a 12-0 run coming out of the halftime break and eventually found itself up by as many as 20 points, its biggest lead of the game.
However, Kent State (3-15, 0-7) turned on a tough full-court press and grabbed three steals to go on an 8-1 run of its own in a one-minute span.
The RedHawks managed to stem KSU's momentum and kept the Flashes at bay the rest of the way for the 10-point victory.
Rachel Mendelsohn finished with a game-high 19 points for the Golden Flashes, including three shots from beyond the arc. Despite shooting and foul troubles that limited her to just six minutes in the first half, Amber Dunlap scored 11 points to go with three assists and three steals. Ashley Evans netted 12 points on the day, including a perfect 5-of-5 performance at the free-throw line, while Montia Johnson and Janae Peterson finished tied with a team-high six rebounds.
"I thought our guards did a really nice job today," said O'Banion. "With this team this year, I think maybe playing that smaller lineup more often is going to help us set a more aggressive tone."
As a team, Kent State totaled 14 steals on the day compared to just seven by Miami. The RedHawks took advantage on the boards, however, grabbing 17 offensive rebounds that resulted in 16 second-chance points.
"We are encouraged -- frustrated obviously -- but encouraged by the way we finished that game and are looking forward to getting ready to go to Dekalb," said O'Banion, referring to KSU's next game Wednesday night at Northern Illinois.