Eagles have no answer for Flashes

Deanna Stevens

Players on the bench react to a 3-pointer by junior guard Sarah Burgess Friday against Eastern Michigan. STEPHANIE J. SMITH | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

The Kent State women’s basketball team is on its way back to the Mid-American Conference championship with a 70-56 win over Eastern Michigan.

But getting back there took completing the best second half of any game this season.

A combination of shooting 25 percent from the floor, as well as 20 percent from 3-point land led the Flashes (21-8, 12-4 MAC) to a 37-21 deficit at the half.

“We had a choice at the start of second half,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “We were playing very poorly in the first half. We just weren’t playing Kent State basketball, and I think we faced the decision in the locker room whether or not we were going to finish our season like that.”

But after intermission, the Flashes answered with a 49-point second half to seal their position in the championship game. MAC Player of the Year Lindsay Shearer led Kent State with 24 points and 19 rebounds.

“I think overall we settled down as a team,” Shearer said. “We had to start boxing out better and started playing better defense. Our overall intensity had to pick up for us.”

Kent State trailed the entire game until a 23- 6 run to begin the second half, which brought the game to an even 43. From there, the Flashes trailed only once by three. Then a layup by senior guard Malika Willoughby and a 3-pointer by junior guard Sarah Burgess pushed Kent State up for good.

Burgess, who ended the game with 18 points, hit three of her four 3-pointers during the second-half rally. With her 18 points as a high, the Kent State bench had 28 points to the Eagles’ 0.

But scoring a second-half season-high 49 points was not the only reason the Flashes were able to pull it out. They held the Eagles (22-7, 15-1 MAC) to just 19 points in the second half as well.

“Everyone played a heck of a lot harder and a heck of a lot more aggressively in the second half,” Lindsay said. “And that was the difference of the game. “

Leading the Eagles was senior guard Ryan Coleman with 17 points. Defensive pressure by junior Kerrie James held Coleman to only four points in the second.

“Kerrie is one of those kids who is an unsung hero,” Lindsay said. “She does play every team’s best perimeter player, and her ablilty to stay in front of Ryan and not give her easy baskets was a big thing.”

The Flashes shot 57 percent from the field in the second half and a season-high 94 percent from the free-throw line. Kent State also beat Eastern Michigan rebounds and steals.

Kent State is 15-0 when holding opponents to under 60 points.

The Flashes will play Bowling Green in the championship match tomorrow. Bowling Green beat Toledo 68-46 yesterday. The game will take place at 1 p.m. at the Quicken Loans Arena.

Contact women’s basketball reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].