Rivals no match for KSU

Tyler McIntosh

Sophomore guard Asheley Harkins goes for a basket at the end of the women’s basketball game against Akron Saturday afternoon. The 88-58 victory brings the women’s record to 13-11. ELIZABETH MYERS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

There was no way the Kent State women’s basketball team was going to lose this one.

Never mind the fact that Kent State had not lost to Akron at home since 1988 – no player wanted to lose a season-high third straight, especially in front of friends and family on senior day.

After the first three minutes of play, the outcome was never in question, as the Flashes defeated the Zips, 88-58, on Saturday.

“I thought this particular game was a great game for our seniors to go out on,” said head coach Bob Lindsay.

On a day in their honor, it seemed as if each senior’s play personified what they have been known for at Kent State (13-11, 9-4 Mid-American Conference).

Seniors La’Kia Stewart and Kristin Peoples took turns being the focal points of the offense, with 19 and 14 points, respectively. Stewart shot 8-for-11 from the field.

Doing the grimy work in the post, Mallorie Griffith and Tiffany LaFleur combined for 15 points, six rebounds and three steals, and defensive stopper Kerrie James led a defense that forced 26 Akron (9-16, 2-11 MAC) turnovers.

“That’s the one thing about Bob Lindsay’s team. They are very well coached, and they work extremely hard,” said Akron coach Jodi Kest. “They are going to be in every game just because of their aggressive play.”

Peoples said the Flashes played with more drive than usual.

“We are going to play hard, regardless, but I think it was a different kind of feeling of playing hard. It was a little more emotional,” Peoples said. “Whatever happened, we were going to get up and continue to play hard for each other.”

Kest said Kent State’s unmatched drive made all the difference.

“You’re not going to beat a Kent State team unless you match their intensity and their aggressiveness,” Kest said. “We didn’t do that today, and therefore, they beat us up pretty good.”

Stewart said it was tough to fathom the arrival of this day.

“Not necessarily for Kristin (Peoples) or Sarah (Burgess), but for me, Mal (Griffith), Kerrie (James) and Tiffany (LaFleur) who came in together. It’s a long four years,” Stewart said. “I’m basically in awe of it being here.”

Despite being a part of two 20-win seasons and 74 total wins, and counting, Lindsay said he will remember this group more for accomplishments outside of the gym.

“They’ve been very good students, very good people. If I remembered anything about them, that would be it,” Lindsay said. “Aside from what they’ve done basketball wise.”

Kent State will host No. 17 Bowling Green on Tuesday. Earlier this season, Bowling Green beat Kent State by 22.

Peoples said home court advantage could be the edge Kent State needs to pull off the upset.

“I know that we didn’t play very well last time we played them,” Peoples said. “This is an opportunity for us to play them on our home court, with our fans. I think that will give us a boost.”

Lindsay seemed cautiously optimistic about how the Flashes will finish out the season. In the past six seasons, the Flashes are 32-12 in February.

“We’ve always won a lot of games in February,” Lindsay said. “We have a tough game on Tuesday and a couple of tough games after that. Time will tell.”

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