Flashes dominate, deliver another win over Akron

Deanna Stevens

Swarming defense and dominating post play led the Kent State women’s basketball team to its 15th consecutive win over Akron on Saturday.

In the 79-47 victory, the Flashes (6-7, 2-0 Mid-American Conference) forced 25 turnovers and outscored the Zips 40 to 10 in the paint.

“We just took what they gave us,” La’kia Stewart said of the Zips’ defense. “They weren’t guarding us very well inside, so we just used that to our advantage.”

Stewart, a senior forward, led the Flashes with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four blocks and four steals.

“Stewart played well,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “She’s a good player when she’s active and when she’s playing with some energy. She can get some stuff done out there.”

Senior center Tiffany LaFleur also took advantage of Akron’s post play, scoring 13 points and grabbing nine rebounds.

“Whenever Tiffany LaFleur is on the floor I think we have an advantage inside,” Stewart said. “So she was really aggressive inside. Tiffany made her shots today, and that always makes it easier for us.”

The Flashes converted on the offensive side of the floor, shooting 49 percent for the game, while holding the Zips to only 25 percent shooting (13-51).

Lindsay said the Flashes’ defensive energy put the Zips on their heels. On the night, the Flashes had 11 steals and scored 18 off Zips’ turnovers.

But on the way to the resounding victory, the Flashes had to weather a 17-point outburst by Akron guard Sarah Tokodi in the first half. The freshman had the first 14 Akron points and put the Zips up by five early on.

Tokodi’s first-half scoring spree came to an end when senior guard Kerrie James began defending her. After dominating for the first 10 minutes, Tokodi scored three the rest of the half.

“Kerrie is our best defensive player on the perimeter, so we had to put her on Tokodi,” Lindsay said. “Kerrie did a pretty good job denying her the ball in the first half and kind of took her out of their offense.”

And Stewart said that was part of the original game plan.

“We wanted to focus on (Tokodi), (senior guard Jessie) Crooks and (sophomore guard Nikki) McCoy,” Stewart said. “We shut down two of the three. They set a lot of screens off the ball for her, so we just needed to communicate a little better. But, she was hittin in the first half. She had the hot hand.”

Tokodi finished with a game-high 26 points.

James scored 10 and was one of five Kent State players to finish the game in double digits.

Another senior guard, Kristin Peoples, who suffered a knee injury on Tuesday against Ohio, scored 14 points off the bench for the Flashes. Bench production was another statistic that was lopsided in Kent’s favor – 32 to 7.

The Flashes have had injury problems all season, but they were playing with a full roster on Saturday.

“We had all of them back,” Lindsay said. “(They’re) not all at 100 percent, but at least they were all back. I think that helped us mentally.”

Stewart said the Flashes strong start in the MAC is due to a tough non-conference schedule.

“I think that is helping us out now that we’ve started MAC play because we’ve been in some big games and we’ve faced some good competition,” Stewart said. “Almost every team we’ve played has made it to postseason play.”

The Flashes will continue their road trip against Bowling Green at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The game will be a rematch last season’s MAC East Championship, which the Falcons won 64-39.

Contact sports reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].