Women’s basketball earns bid to WNIT, will face Green Bay in first round

Members of the Kent State women’s basketball team celebrate after the Flashes 67-58 win over Miami (OH) on Feb. 27. 

Gina Butkovich

For the second time in three years, the Kent State women’s basketball team will be playing in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).

“If you look at some of the teams that didn’t make it, it’s significant,” coach Todd Starkey said of the WNIT field. “There are some very good teams that aren’t in the field. For us to make this field speaks volumes to what our program is and to do it in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year with five freshman is great. To me, it means a lot. It means we’re doing some things right.”

Kent State was knocked out of the MAC tournament quarterfinal against Buffalo on Wednesday, 85-52.

“We knew if (Buffalo) played well, they are a better team than us,” Starkey said. “So we didn’t dwell on that one. We all felt we had a good chance to make the WNIT team field, so we tried to move on to that as quickly as we could.”

The Flashes will face Green Bay in the first round of the WNIT on Thursday.

“They are a really tough team, a really unique defensive play, and very well coached,” Starkey said. “They have a history of good postseason play. So we got a tough draw, but everyone this time of year is good.”

Green Bay lost to Wright State 55-52 in the Horizon League title game. This will be the first time the Phoenix have played in the WNIT since 2014.

“We have been practicing these last few days, and we have had two very good practices,” Starkey said. “I’m very pleased with where the team is at this point.”

This is the second time the Flashes have gone to the WNIT since Starkey has arrived on campus, the first time being his first year as coach two years ago. For many of the players on the team, this will be their first time going.

“For our upperclassman, they get how hard it is to get to the WNIT and what it means,” Starkey said. “For our freshman, they are excited about it, but they will also learn to appreciate it the longer they are here.”

Gina Butkovich is a sports reporter. Contact her a [email protected].