The Kennesaw State women’s basketball team defeated the NJIT Highlanders 64-48 on Saturday to snap their three-game losing skid.
After coming off of a conference loss against Florida Gulf Coast, the Owls needed a win against NJIT to be an even 3-3 in conference play.
This game was the first meeting between the two teams. It was the Owls who struck early and often and capitalized on the lead throughout the game. The 2-2 tie at the beginning of the game would be the last time the Highlanders were even with KSU in the contest.
The Owls, with the help of Kelly Dulkoski and Aareon Smith, separated the lead by making key first-quarter three-pointers. Dulkoski and Smith counted for 14 points and paced the Owls to create a 23-8 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“I thought we played a great quarter,” Kennesaw State head coach Nitra Perry said about the Owls’ fast start in the first quarter. “It wasn’t because we were making all of our shots, but it was just the effort of Allison Johnson’s rebounding, Jasmine McAllister’s rebounding and, of course, Kelly and Aareon hitting some shots.”
By halftime, the Owls had increased their lead to 37-20. The Owls maintained their lead in the second quarter by scoring off of turnovers. 12 of the 14 points scored in the quarter came from turnovers.
“Our focus today was not just relying on the three-point ball,” Perry said. “So I felt like our mindset was a little different, which made us more aggressive attacking the rim.”
The Owls were outscored in the third quarter 11-14, bringing the score to 48-34 headed to the final quarter. Although the game became closer, the Owls created momentum again and separated from NJIT at the end of the period.
The Owls outscored NJIT 16-14 in the fourth quarter to secure their 64-48 victory. The win was the seventh of the season for KSU at home.
Freshman Allison Johnson had her first career double-double, scoring 13 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
“I’ve always thought of myself as a defensive player before an offensive player,” Johnson said. “I just try to go out there and play my best. I just try to play defense, and then the offense just came. I had a lot of help by my teammates.”
Junior forward Aareon Smith led the Owls with 15 points. Smith was 3-6 on three-pointers. Redshirt sophomore Kelly Dulkoski finished the game with 14 points. Both Smith and Dulkoski made a game-high three three-pointers. Senior Jasmine McAllister finished the game with 11 points, while also providing five assists. McAllister was also perfect from the free throw line, shooting a perfect 3-3.
With the conference win over NJIT, the Owls (8-13) are now 3-3 in conference play. For its next game, KSU will travel to Spartanburg, SC to take on USC Upstate on Feb. 4.
“Upstate is a really good team,” Perry said. “They’ve been playing really well, so for us, it’s going to be about bringing our own energy level there, and then of course you have to make some shots and you have to be aggressive. We got up on this team because we played really good defense that first half, so we’re going to take our defense into this next game.”