Kent State’s women’s basketball team will hit the road to take on Mid-American Conference East Division leader Ohio University at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Athens.

“Our biggest challenge would probably be staying focused,” redshirt senior guard Megan Carter said. “That ranges from practice to studying the scout and knowing who the players are and what their tendencies are.”

The Flashes are second in the MAC East (12-8, 5-4 MAC), 1.5 games behind the Bobcats (14-7, 7-3 MAC).

“They’re one of the best teams in the league,” coach Todd Starkey said. “In my opinion, they’ve got four legitimate all-conference level players, so they can beat you in so many different ways.”

Ohio University holds an 8-1 record at home this season and Kent State is 4-3 in true road games.

“They have an interesting crowd that’s definitely fun to play against,” Carter said. “But, you have to stay focused and I think it does give them a little bit of an edge playing there.”

The Flashes have two members of their starting five, freshman forward Nila Blackford and freshman guard Katie Shumate, that have never played against OU.

“We try not to build up any opponent too much,” Starkey said. “I think just trying to keep everything as standard and normal for all of our games so that none of it looks more intense or stressful going into it.”

The Bobcats’ starting lineup consists of junior forward Gabby Burris, junior guard Cece Hooks, redshirt junior guard Katie Barker, senior guard Amani Burke and redshirt sophomore guard Erica Johnson.

“Their whole starting five is challenging to defend,” Starkey said. “All five of them have the ability to put up 20 points in a game. It’s not a matter of if you can shut down a player or two then we're going to be successful. It’s got to be a really balanced defensive effort.”

Hooks averages 18 points per game, which is third highest in the MAC, and Johnson averages 17.2 points per game, which is sixth highest.

“We have to limit their field goal percentage,” Starkey said. “We need to keep them off of the free throw line and make sure we get to the free throw line. Then we have to handle their swarming defense and limit turnovers.”

Kent State is coming off of a 61-47 home win over Bowling Green (8-13, 1-8 MAC) and Ohio topped Eastern Michigan (10-11, 5-5 MAC) by a score of 75-65 on the road Wednesday.

“It all starts in practice with consistency and building on yesterday’s win,” Carter said. “We’ve been up and down, win one lose one, win two lose two, so I think consistency is key.”

Kathryn Rajnicek is a sports reporter. Contact her at krajnice@kent.edu.

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