Team effort leads Flashes to win over RedHawks

Tyler McIntosh

It wasn’t always easy or pretty, but the Kent State women’s basketball team came back from double-digit deficits twice to defeat Miami 86-76 Saturday.

Eight 3-pointers helped the RedHawks build 10-point leads on two separate occasions. And with three starters in foul trouble, Kent State needed contributions from nine players for the comeback.

The Flashes (14-12, 10-5 MAC) received 13 points apiece from reserves Sarah Burgess and Samantha Scull. Senior forward Mallorie Griffith also came off the bench to score 10 points and grab five rebounds before fouling out.

It was Griffith’s hustle that triggered Kent State’s first 10-point comeback and ultimately put the Flashes within three points of Miami going into halftime (44-41).

“Mallorie Griffith ended up having a steal, she dove for a loose ball, she got a rebound, she got a charge; then she got a breakaway layup,” associate head coach Lori Bodnar told WHLO AM-640’s Tom Linder. “She finished with 10 and five. That’s a great line for Mallorie.”

Burgess, a senior guard, shot 3-of-5 from behind the arc, including a 3 that was part of a 12-point run that erased the RedHawk’s second 10-point lead and gave the Flashes their first lead since the 13:22 mark in the first half.

Still dealing with a foot injury, Burgess played 24 minutes.

“Sarah Burgess, you can’t give her enough credit,” Bodnar said. “She had six assists and a key steal.”

With Griffith saddled with three fouls heading into the second half, Scull took over in the post and finished with six rebounds and two blocks. After being Kent State’s main post presence in the second half, Scull left with a parting gift from a Miami player.

“She has a boxer cut above her eye,” Bodnar said. “I told her it builds character and now people will be afraid of her.”

For the game, Kent State’s bench outscored Miami’s, 36-5.

Assistant coach Michael Terry told Linder the halftime message to the team was simple.

“We need to do a better job defensively,” Terry said. “We can not afford to give up 44 points in a half to a team like Miami.”

It appeared that something was lost in translation when Miami scored seven straight points in the opening minute of the second half.

But the RedHawks could not sustain their early success and proceeded to shoot just 29.4 percent for the half. Sophomore Jenna Schone led Miami with a game-high 26 points and red-shirt junior Amanda Jackson scored 23 points.

Seven more lead changes occurred before senior forward La’Kia Stewart broke a 63-63 tie by scoring two of her 16 points and drawing a foul in the process. Stewart would connect on the foul shot to put Kent State up for good at 66-63 with over eight minutes left in the game.

Coming off of a 3-of-11 shooting night against Bowling Green, Stewart bounced back to put up team-highs of 16 points and nine rebounds.

The Flashes shot 72.2 percent from the field in the second half.

With one game left for both teams, Kent State is a game up on Ohio (16-11, 9-6 MAC) for the second place in the MAC East division. The top two teams from the MAC East and West receive byes in the first round of the MAC tournament.

Kent State will finish the regular season against Buffalo 7 p.m. Wednesday at the M.A.C. Center.

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