Win now, rest later

Tyler McIntosh

A win over Buffalo means a bye in the women’s basketball MAC tournament


Sophomore guard Asheley Harkins races around an Akron opponent on Feb. 17. The Flashes will take on Buffalo today at 7 p.m.

Credit: Adam Griffiths

It’s real simple for the Kent State women’s basketball team. Defeat Buffalo tonight and be rewarded with an automatic pass to the second round of the Mid-American Conference tournament.

If the Flashes lose, they will have to rely on Ohio, a team that just upset No. 16 Bowling Green, to lose to an Akron team that has just three wins in its last 15 games.

Without a bye, the Flashes will have to win four games in seven days in order to win their first MAC tournament title since 2001-2002.

Senior forward La’Kia Stewart said a first round bye is crucial on many different levels.

“We are working hard right now to try to gethis ‘W’ tomorrow so we can get a first round bye and finish second in the league,” Stewart said.

“We’ve always been at the top of our division,” she said. “That’s something we pride ourselves on.”

In its last five games against Buffalo (10-17, 5-10 MAC), Kent State has won by an average of 26 points. The Flashes are 18-0 all-time against the Bulls, but that perfect record was nearly blemished earlier this season.

On Jan. 17, Kent State (14-12, 10-15 MAC) needed a combination of senior guard Kristin Peoples’ layup in the final minute and two clutch foul shots from senior guard Kerrie James to get out of Buffalo with a 62-59 win.

Bulls junior forward Heather Turner, a preseason MAC 1st Team selection, is averaging 12.3 points and 8.2 rebounds a night.

For Stewart, tonight’s game will be about redemption – she wasn’t happy with her play at Buffalo – and finishing at home with a win.

“It’s our last game at the M.A.C. Center,” Stewart said. “We’ll just try to go out there and handle business.”

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