Kent State perseveres through injuries, tough schedule

Tyler McIntosh

Senior center Tiffany LaFleur shoots against the Miami RedHawks on Saturday. The Flashes will take on the Buffalo Bulls in Buffalo today at 7 p.m. KATIE ROUPE | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

All things considered, the Kent State women’s basketball team should be happy, or at least somewhat content, with its current record of 7-8 overall and 3-1 in the Mid-American Conference.

After all, few teams have been hit harder by injuries this season, and out of the Flashes first 15 opponents, five qualified for the NCAA tournament last season.

However, the team is not content with its near-.500 record.

Even after Saturday’s 83-76 win over Miami, senior guard La’Kia Stewart found problems with Kent State’s performance.

“We had 27 turnovers this game, and we got off to a slow start at home. I don’t think he’s (Coach Bob Lindsay) happy about this game; I don’t think we’re happy about this game,” Stewart said. “I don’t think we played really well, especially giving up 76 points on our home court.”

Senior forward Mallorie Griffith also has some complaints about the team’s play.

“Our weakness is consistency, coming out and playing hard and getting after it every single game,” Griffith said.

In Saturday’s post-game press conference, Lindsay said there have been times this season when Kent State has played games with its top four players injured, but those problems do not give the team a pass.

“Even the ones that have been in are not 100 percent,” Lindsay said. “From that perspective, we are dinged up, and our numbers are down a little bit. We struggle at times because of it. It’s not an excuse for losing; it’s just the reality of the situation.”

With a tough non-conference schedule, opponents have a combined record of 134-108 this year. The schedule was designed to prepare the Flashes for MAC play, with Lindsay said it has done.

“We played some really big teams,” Griffith said. “We were on the road a lot, and it does things to you mentally. Like, trying to get prepared to play on the road and shooting at different gyms has an effect on the way you play.”

But it has not been all bad for Kent State through the first half of the season. Through 15 games, Kent State leads the MAC in steals with 11.3 per game, and its 15.20 offensive rebounds per game is also a MAC best.

“In the post group we not only compete against the other people we are playing (for rebounds), but we also compete against ourselves. It’s something that we take pride in,” Griffith said. “With our steals, we have quick guards that play with heart and work hard.”

It also seems that the team has found a legitimate No. 1 scoring option to replace Lindsay Shearer in the form of senior Kristin Peoples. Peoples is averaging 15.5 points per game, with a supporting cast of seniors and freshmen forming around her.

Stewart has recorded four double-doubles this season, and in four MAC games is averaging 14.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals.

Freshman guard Jamilah Humes has started six games and is fourth on the team in scoring, while sophomore guard Ashley Harkins had arguably her best game of the season against Miami when she scored 10 points and handed out three assists and two steals.

Kent State will go to Buffalo (6-10, 1-3) tonight looking for its fourth win in five games. Buffalo won its first MAC game of the season with a six point victory over Akron on Saturday.

The Bulls are led by junior forward Heather Turner, who averages 13 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. But it may not be one particular Bull that could pose a problem for the Flashes as much as it could be a herd of Bulls.

Buffalo has a 10 player rotation this season and currently they all play at least nine minutes per game. In contrast, Kent State will only have nine players available tonight.

“It’s always a tough game up there,” Lindsay said. “They play hard and shoot the ball well as a team. They have a real good post player in Heather Turner; she shoots 84 percent from the field in conference games.”

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