Kowalska powers Flashes past Akron

Thomas Gallick

Center’s career high game leads team to victory

Junior forward Anna Kowalska fights to shoot against Akron junior forward Rachel Green. Kowalska scored a career-high 30 points during the game. Katie Roupe | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

The Kent State women’s basketball team, led by 6 foot-4inch junior forward Anna Kowalska, defeated archrival Akron 71-62 Saturday to pull even in the Mid-American Conference and now must face Buffalo tonight at the M.A.C. Center.

One similarity the Flashes and Buffalo share is reliance on dominant post players who led their team in scoring this season. The Bulls’ senior forward Heather Turner went 6-of-7 from the floor for a team-high 12 points against Bowling Green Saturday, while Kowalska scored a career-high 30 points for the Flashes against Akron the same day.

Kowalska, a junior college transfer from John A. Logan College, said she is still trying to make a greater impact with every game.

“Each game I’m trying to improve,” Kowalska said. “I’m trying to spread the floor, to play harder in the post (and) take care of the ball.”

Sophomore guard Rachel Bennett, who added 13 points against the Zips, said she never thinks twice about passing the ball inside to Kowalska.

“I have all the confidence in the world in Anna,” Bennett said. “I love playing on her side and getting the ball to her. She knows how to get the ball in the hole.”

Coming Up

Kent State vs. Buffalo

(5-11, 2-2 MAC) (9-8, 2-2 MAC)

Where: The M.A.C. Center

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Listen in: 640 AM WHLO (Tom Linder)

Coach Bob Lindsay said he was pleased with the strength and determination Kowalska played with Saturday.

“I don’t know if when you recruit someone you ever expect them to score 30 points in a game,” Lindsay said. “I think she powered the ball to the rim . and was a little bit more aggressive going to the basket.”

The win put the Flashes right back into the middle of the hunt in the MAC East, but Lindsay said he sees this season more as an opportunity for his young players to grow rather than win a MAC championship.

“We’ve got five wins this season,” Lindsay said. “I look at this season much more as a teaching experience and a learning experience for our players. I’m not measuring it in wins and losses.”

The win was the team’s 17th straight over Akron, and raised Lindsay’s record against Akron to 32-1 overall. Although Lindsay shrugged off the significance of the streak, Bennett said it played a part in the team’s motivation.

“As long as I can remember Akron has never beaten Kent State, and that was probably most of our fire today,” Bennett said. “We didn’t want to be that team that got beat.”

Buffalo also defeated the Zips earlier this season, posting a 55-51 victory at Akron to increase its MAC road-winning streak to two, a mark they look to improve upon tonight in Kent.

Kent State and Buffalo both hold records of 2-2 in the MAC, but the Bulls sit at 9-8 overall compared to Kent State’s 5-11 record. A Kent State win tonight moves the Flashes to a game above .500 in the MAC for the first time this season since the team beat Ohio to open conference play.

Game Notes

Kowalska doubles up again

Junior forward Anna Kowalska finished with 30 points and 12 rebounds against Akron for her eighth double-double of the year. The last time Kowalska failed to produce a double-double was against Bowling Green Wednesday when she had 18 points and seven rebounds.

One-sided rivalry

Kent State’s dominance over Akron in women’s basketball did not start with the Bob Lindsay era. Since 1975 the Flashes lead the series 41-5. The Zips have not beaten the Flashes since Jan. 16, 1999.

Road warriors

Both the Flashes and the Bulls go into tonight’s matchup with road win streaks on the line. Kent State and Buffalo have both won two straight road games and lost two straight home games.

Chance for a coaching milestone

With a win tonight, coach Bob Lindsay reaches 350 career wins. Lindsay, the only Mid-American Conference coach with 300 career wins, has a record of 349-194 in his 19 years at Kent State.

Contact sports reporter Thomas Gallick at [email protected].