Women’s team attempts to reignite rivalry with Falcons

Josh Johnston

Flashes travel to Bowling Green to challenge MAC East leaders

Freshman guard Jena Stutzman defends Falcons forward Lauren Prochaska during the Jan. 7 game at the M.A.C. Center. The Falcons edged out the Flashes 77-71. RACHEL KILROY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Kent State’s main rival in most sports may be neighboring Akron, but for the women’s basketball team, its grudge is with the school down the Ohio Turnpike – Bowling Green.

“We’ve struggled with beating them for the last five years I’ve been here,” senior guard Asheley Harkins said. “It’s a really, really huge rival.”

That rivalry will renew noon tomorrow at Anderson Arena in Bowling Green. Earlier this season the Flashes played host to the Falcons in both teams’ first conference matchup.

THE GAME (17-8, 6-7 Mid-American Conference) at Bowling Green (24-2, 13-0)

Where: Anderson Arena,

Bowling Green

When: Noon tomorrow

Radio: WHLO-AM 640

with Ty Linder

TV: FSN Ohio

Internet: KentNewsNet.com

At that time, Kent State was riding an eight-game winning streak, which included five wins on the road. Bowling Green entered with an 11-game winning streak, the longest in the Mid-American Conference.

The Falcons walked away with a 77-71 win and, 12 games later, still has an ongoing winning streak. Kent State (17-8, 6-7 MAC) has struggled since the schools met Jan. 7, splitting its 12 games 6-6.

“That game was intense,” junior guard Rachel Bennett said. “The story with us throughout our whole year has been our lack of consistency. I think that’s what happened during that game. We couldn’t be consistent with the energy that we started off with at the beginning of the game, and we ended up losing the game.”

The Flashes are 0-10 against Bowling Green over the last five seasons. Three of those losses have come in the MAC Tournament, including the 2005 and 2006 championship game. Harkins, who was a freshman in 2005 and redshirted 2006, still remembers those games.

“My sophomore year we lost by quite a bit,” Harkins said. “(Former Kent State forward) Lindsay Shearer scored like 44 points, but we just couldn’t answer. Every single time that we made a play, they seemed like they made a bigger play. That game just sticks in the back of my mind. It’s definitely one of my goals to beat BG before I leave.”

Bowling Green (24-2, 13-0 MAC) was ranked No. 25 in the country this week in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll. The Falcons’ 24-game win streak is the second longest in the country.

“Of course beating them, making them lose for the first time in conference, first time in 24 games and being a top ranked team, that would make winning that much more sweeter,” Harkins said.

Kent State player to watch

Freshman guard Jena Stutzman (8.8 points per game, 44 percent 3-point shooting)

This one’s pretty obvious. The sharp-shooting freshman is 13-of-23 from the field in her last two games. Her 62 3-pointers so far this season is second in team history.

Bowling Green player to watch

Sophomore guard Lauren Prochaska (18.2 ppg, 6 rebounds per game)

Again, obvious. Prochaska has been the best shooter in the MAC lately, averaging more than 24 points in the Falcons’ last five games. Earlier this month, she dropped 43 points on Central Michigan.

Matchup to watch

Senior guard Asheley Harkins vs. Bowling Green’s guards

Harkins might not be the best shooter on Kent State’s bench, but she gives new meaning to the word “guard.” If Kent State coach Bob Lindsay gives her minutes, expect Harkins to be all over the Falcons’ high-scoring guards.

Last time

On Jan. 7, Bowling Green beat the Flashes 77-71 at the M.A.C. Center. Kent State jumped out to a 20-7 lead before collapsing under the Falcons’ dominant guard play. Senior center Anna Kowalska led Kent State with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].