Looking for a Big Ten win

Lance Lysowski

Women’s basketball team looks to upset Michigan

The Kent State women’s basketball team is a mere 5-24 against the Big Ten Conference.

The Kent State women’s basketball team is a mere 5-24 against the Big Ten Conference.

Kent State coach Bob Lindsay is hoping to improve that record tonight when the Flashes travel to Ann Arbor to challenge Michigan in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

The game marks the Flashes’ first postseason berth since 2004 when the team lost 61-51 to Saint Joseph’s in the first round of the WNIT.

Senior guard Rachel Bennett, who broke her hand in the team’s semifinal loss to Toledo in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, said the game is pivotal after the team’s tough loss to the Rockets.

“The game is real important because we obviously want to show what the MAC is,” Bennett said. “Everybody wants to say that the MAC’s a little conference. We want to go up to Michigan to see if we can beat a good team and maybe bring it here, home on the next game.”

Kent State shot just 25 percent form the field in the loss to Toledo, and Lindsay said the team will have to improve their offense for a victory against the Wolverines.

“The fact that you got the postseason is the most important part of it,” Lindsay said. “Obviously, you want to play well but it is what it is. You go out and leave everything on the court. You play as hard as you can. If you win, great. If you don’t, you left everything out there.”

Michigan (17-13, 8-10 Big Ten) shot 42 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range during the regular season. Junior guard Veronica Hicks and sophomore guard Carmen Reynolds lead the Wolverines’ offense.

Hicks averaged 13 points and five rebounds per game, while Reynolds, who averaged 12.6 points per game, paced the Wolverine attack by shooting 47 percent from 3-point range. Reynolds finished the season in the top three in both 3-point field goal percentage and field goals made in the conference.

Bennett said the team has to focus on their opponents’ major strengths — guard play and senior center Krista Phillips.

“I think we have to play smart,” Bennett said. “They have (Phillips) and we have to know her strengths and weaknesses, and play to them. They have two quick guards we’re going to have to take care of, and also on our end, on offense, going to have to play better.”

Phillips, who was tied for fourth in conference with 1.87 blocks per game, creates matchup problems for the Flashes in the paint. The senior measures 6-feet-6-inches tall, while Kent State’s tallest player, senior center Lorriane Odhiambo, is just 6-feet-2.

While the hosting Wolverines are favored to win, Odhiambo said the Flashes need a team effort to take advantage of the opportunity.

“It’s everybody on this team’s first chance of playing in the post season,” Odhiambo said. “It’s a big honor to play in the NCAA and NIT. It’s good that we’re going to make that appearance. We all have to contribute instead of relying on two or three players for points.”

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].