Peoples a nice fit with Flashes

Tyler McIntosh

Kristin Peoples – the Flashes’ leading scorer – played three years at Arkansas before coming to Kent State.

Katie Roupe | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Kristin Peoples may have been part of the women’s basketball team after coming to Kent State from Arkansas last summer, but she didn’t truly arrive until the second half of Kent State’s Nov. 30 win against Washington.

At the end of the first half, not only was Kent State trailing by 18 points, but Peoples had as many fouls – two – as she did points. This is when it started.

The senior guard went on to total five assists and score 18 points in the second half, including a foul shot that sent the game into overtime. Peoples capped off overtime with a game winning 3-pointer with 18 seconds to play. That gave her nine overtime points and a career-high 29 on the night.

“Beating Washington on our home floor after being 18-points down was one of my most memorable moments,” Peoples said.

Peoples, a former Street & Smith’s high school All-America honorable mention, has benefited from the Flashes up-tempo style, averaging 16.6 points, 3.8 assists and 2.1 steals a game.

Her 16.6 is the highest per game total of anyone not named Lindsay Shearer in the last six seasons at Kent State.

In her three seasons at Arkansas, Peoples averaged similar assist and steal totals, but significantly less on the scoring front (9.4).

“I’m not really sure about best season, but I know I’ve been playing better because of the style of play here and my teammates,” Peoples said. “I think just being a senior, the sense of urgency makes you play a little bit better.”

The team already had five seniors as well as sophomore guards Rachel Bennett and Asheley Harkins. The situation could have appeared intimidating to Peoples, who would have taken playing time from them.

After all, there are only so many minutes to go around, but the genial team apparently defused any problems.

“One of the big things about me coming here was the easy transition because my teammates were so welcoming,” Peoples said. “What I like most is my teammates. I think that’s the biggest part of any basketball team.”

It turned out to be a blessing for the Flashes that, after graduating from Arkansas, Peoples decided to take advantage of a now defunct NCAA rule that allowed graduates with eligibility remaining to play at a different school without having to sit out a year.

Midway through the season, numerous injuries caused the Flashes to play with just seven players. One of the constants was Peoples, who has not missed a game this year while playing a team-high 33.5 minutes a night.

“She’s meant a lot to this team,” senior forward La’Kia Stewart said. “She’s our point guard, our leader. Even though she hasn’t been in this program, she’s been the point guard for three years at a bigger school. She has a lot of experience and is a really good player. She’s been huge for us.”

Despite embracing her role as one of the team’s leaders, Peoples is quick to say that she and her teammates depend on each other.

“I’m comfortable with that, but I don’t think that’s the case,” Peoples said. “I think we all play off of each other. All around, we make each other better.”

Now, with the arrival of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, Peoples said she is ready to continue the Flashes’ legacy of success, the reason she came to Kent State in the first place.

“Coach (Bob) Lindsay’s been here a while and he’s established his program as being a top program in the conference,” Peoples said. “I knew coach Lindsay was a great coach. My expectations were ‘they are a winning team.’ That’s what I expected.”

Contact women’s basketball reporter Tyler McIntosh at [email protected].