KSU’s small bench has been suprisingly productive

Tyler McIntosh

SAM TWAREK | DAILY KENT STATER Sophomore guard Asheley Harkins struggles to shoot against Western Michigan last Saturday. The Flashes will take on Northern Illinois tonight at 7 p.m. in the M.A.C. Center.

Credit: Adam Griffiths

A ton of scoring may not be expected from a bench that’s only three players deep.

But that is exactly what the bench for the Kent State women’s basketball team has been doing. For the year, the Flashes’ reserves have outscored their opponents 471-272 and have only been outscored in one game this season. The 471 points account for 32.2 percent of the teams points this season.

“We are effective because we are just as good as the starters,” sophomore guard Asheley Harkins said. “We just have a different role on the team. Our role is to come in and score and provide energy. The starters are just better at starting off a game.”

The Flashes (11-9, 7-2 Mid-American Conference) are in the midst of a three-game winning streak that has put them in sole possession of second place in the MAC East division.

“We have gotten road wins, and we have played about as good as we have played the whole year,” coach Bob Lindsay said.

Harkins said their defense, which has held six consecutive opponents under 70 points, is the main reason why Kent State is playing so well.

“We’ve picked it up on the defensive end,” Harkins said. “We are getting easy baskets while scoring in transition. We have been pressuring the guards and not letting people score where they want to, which is allowing us to score where we want to.”

With the Flashes entering the final leg of their schedule, they will need to keep doing what has been working. Their remaining opponents include some stiff competition: MAC West leader Ball State (17-3, 8-1 MAC), Northern Illinois (15-6, 6-3 MAC) and a rematch with 17th-ranked Bowling Green (20-2, 9-0 MAC).

“We need to just keep playing hard like we have been the last three games, which has caused us to win. If we play hard and get after it, a lot of positives will come out of it,” Harkins said.

Another key for the final seven games of the season may be the availability of senior guard Sarah Burgess, who has only played in 11 games this season due to a variety of injuries. Currently, Burgess is dealing with a potential stress fracture in her foot.

While Lindsay is not sure if Burgess will be able to play again, he said she is eager to play and pointed out that recent Varsity “K” Hall of Fame inductee Julie Studer had success while playing with a stress fracture.

“Studer played the last part of her junior year with a stress fracture and ended up being the most valuable player in the MAC tournament,” Lindsay said in Saturday’s post-game press conference. “Maybe we will have a little bit more luck, and Sarah will be able to help us in that regard too.”

Burgess is averaging 11 points and five rebounds per game.

“She’s (Burgess) obviously got some problems. They’re going to try to treat them and see if she has any games left in her. I don’t know if she’ll play,” Lindsay said. “We are going to try to play her. She wants to play, but whether she can or not is another thing.”

Kent State will play Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. tonight at the M.A.C. Center.

The Huskies, winners of their last three, are led by guard Stephanie Raymond. Raymond leads the MAC with 6.52 assists per game and is second in scoring with 18.9 points per game.

“We’ve got to execute offensively against them,” Lindsay said. “We have to defend their best scorers, and basically, we just have to play better than they do. That’s the bottom line of any game.”

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