KENNESAW — The Kennesaw State women set a new team record for rebounds as they routed Shorter 94-55 on Tuesday in a matinee at the KSU Convocation Center.
The Owls pulled down 68 rebounds, including 37 on the offensive end, bettering their former Division I-era mark of 60 set against Mercer in 2011.
In addition, five players scored in double figures, as Kennesaw State won its second straight to even its record at 11-11 with six games left to play.
“It was a hugely important win,” Owls coach Agnus Berenato said. “We’ve had a rough stretch around this time (the last few years). We were on our bye week, and we always seem to struggle with too much time off, so I put this game in as a chance to play someone else.”
Kennesaw State also had the advantage of playing in front of a raucous crowd of 1,604 fans who attended as part of Education Day. Much of the crowd was made of up of students from local elementary and middle schools.
“Education Day is my favorite promotion,” Berenato said. “My sister (Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade) and I stared the first Education Day in the country when we were at Georgia Tech. Now, it is something that is countrywide.
“The kids were great. They were loud, and it was a lot of fun.”
Kennesaw State’s players seemed to feed off the energy the students brought. With 3:42 to play in the second quarter, the Owls led only 30-25, but they closed the period on a 13-0 run to lead 43-25 at the half.
The run continued in the third quarter, with point guard Amani Johnson connecting on a 3-pointer to cap a 22-2 surge that put Kennesaw State up 52-27.
The 5-foot-6 Johnson led the Owls with 20 points and pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds. She also added six assists and five steals.
“It was so much fun,” Johnson said. “Last year, Education Day was canceled because of snow. It was an incredible atmosphere and fun to be part of.”
Johnson also agreed the game was important heading down the stretch of the ASUN Conference schedule. The Owls are 4-6 in conference and 1½ games back of Jacksonville, North Florida and Liberty for third place. They still have games against Jacksonville and Liberty to play.
“It’s a big confidence-booster for us,” Johnson said. “Both games were big wins. They should help propel us toward the ASUN tournament.”
KSU dominated Division II Shorter (1-20) — which was playing with only seven players — on the inside. The Owls outscored the Hawks 54-26 in the paint and 30-3 in second-chance points.
Alexis Poole had 14 points and seven rebounds. Gillian Piccolino, coming off a career-high 25 in last Saturday’s 88-60 win over Lipscomb, had 13 points, and Simina Avram finished with 10 points and 12 boards.
Peyton Lewis had a career-high 15 points, and Berenato said it was nice to see the sophomore have a breakout game.
“She’s been working really hard,” Berenato said. “She has the best shooting stroke on the team. It’s just been a little bit of a struggle to bring it from practice to the game. Today, she was shooting in rhythm, and you could see she was having fun.”
Jasmine Gaines led three Shorter players in double figures with 24 points, while Tatum Ragsdale had 13 and Mekala Fuller 11. Former Woodstock standout Briana Burnett added two points and four rebounds.