La’Kia unlocks career night against conference foe

Tyler McIntosh

The La’Kia Stewart show rolled into Toledo Saturday, and it did not disappoint.

The senior forward set a career high in points as the Kent State women’s basketball team won its second straight game with an 82-68 win over Toledo.

On 12-of-20 shooting, Stewart scored 28 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and came up with five steals. The 28 points are a new high, and her five steals matched her previous best. This was Stewart’s seventh double-double of the season.

“I thought La’Kia played a really well-rounded game today,” associate head coach Lori Bodnar told WHLO-AM 640’s Tom Linder in a post-game interview. “She was all over the floor. She’s helping people and covering for other people. I just thought she did an outstanding job defensively. She came out ready to play.”

Bodnar also said this is a team that doesn’t panic.

“This is probably one of the few teams that don’t that we’ve had. They just go with the flow,” Bodnar said.

A quick start by Stewart — 10 points, four rebounds and a block in the first nine minutes — helped the Flashes (10-9, 6-2 Mid-American Conference) establish a seven-point lead. But the Rockets cut that lead to just one (36-35) heading into halftime.

“They posted up our little guards, and they started getting some easy baskets,” Bodnar said. “I was telling our team in the locker room that they (Toledo) scored 22 points in the paint and 11 free throws. That gave them 33 points and they only scored 35 in the half.”

After trading baskets for the first 10 minutes of the second half, Kent State went on an 11-0 run highlighted by a steal and a layup by senior guard Kristin Peoples.

“It was still a game and then all of a sudden Toledo turned it over seven times in a row,” Bodnar said. “We just started to get a bunch of steals, and we got out of that slump.

“La’Kia gets two steals for breakaway layups and then Kristin (Peoples) gets a steal. All of a sudden, Toledo’s on their heels. Ashley Harkins gets up in somebody’s face, and they bobble the ball out of bounds.That starts playing on your mind.”

Toledo (7-12, 3-4 MAC) came back to make it a seven-point game before being outscored 19-13 by Kent State the rest of the game. During that stretch, the Flashes led by as many as 17.

Nearly matching Stewart was Peoples, who scored 26 points, just three away from her career high, set earlier this season against Washington. Peoples also had eight assists and three steals.

The Flashes have won four of their last five games and are now 6-0 when they score 80 or more points in a game this season.

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