‘Ringless Wonder’ looks to bring home first title

Matt Gottfried

“I’m ringless,” said senior forward Lindsay Shearer. “Hopefully we can put ourselves in a position Saturday to change that.”

Make no mistake about it though, the MAC’s leading scorer isn’t talking about a wedding ring. Lindsay has her sights set on a MAC championship, a goal she and the Flashes came just short of last year when she threw up a tournament record 44-points in a 81-75 loss to Bowling Green.

“Through my collegiate career and all throughout my high school career, I’ve never won a championship,” Shearer said. “I want to win one before I’m done with basketball.”

Shearer, who leads the conference with 20.6 points per game, combines with fellow senior point guard Malika Willoughby to form a pair of record-setting Flashes. Willoughby and her league-leading steals (2.93 per game) and assists (5.19 per game) join Shearer as the team’s two leading record pursuers.

Both players earned All-MAC honors this year, as Shearer received First-Team accolades and Willoughby received an honorable mention.

“Malika is one of my biggest reasons for being successful,” Shearer said. “She is a great passer, and she knows the game well. She just always seems to know where I am. I try to make sure I always know where she is at as well, because she is one of the main guards that gets the ball to me. Having her on the floor has helped me tremendously.”

Shearer currently ranks fourth all-time in MAC scoring with 1,731 points and fifth in rebounds with 793. She also ranks in the top 10 in nine other statistical categories, but don’t be surprised if she seems reluctant to acknowledge her feats on the court.

“It’s a great honor, but I try not to think about it too much,” Shearer said. “Like, I’ll call home and my dad will be like ‘Did you know you just did this or that,’ and I’m just like ‘Dad, I don’t really want to know until the season is over. I just want to stay focused on the team stuff.'”

It’s the “team stuff” that has earned the respect of both her teammates and players. Her consistent play and leadership over the past four years is something Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said has earned her the label as one of the best offensive players he’s ever had.

Willoughby agreed as well, pointing out that it’s not just Shearer’s ability on the court that has made her such a great teammate, but also her friendship off it.

“It’s like playing with Michael Jordan,” Willoughby said. “I mean you get her the ball, and you know the shot is going in. She can play outside, she can play inside, she can do all sorts of things to help this team. My job as the point guard is to get her the ball and let everyone else know to get her the ball.

“She’s not only my teammate though, she’s my friend. She really is a great person inside and out. It’s really a blessing to play with her. You know, she scored 44 points in the tournament last year against (Bowling Green), and I may not have been the one to do that, but at least I can say, ‘Yeah, I played with her.'”

Shearer isn’t the only player on this Kent State team earning recognition for her contributions to the team, however, as Willoughby has proven on the court that her numbers are worth noting as well. Those numbers earned her honorable mention on the All-MAC team.

“Malika has been consistent for us all year,” said Kent State coach Bob Lindsay. “She is a very good defensive player on the ball, and when she is playing hard and putting pressure on the ball, she gives people a very hard time. She makes it hard for our opponents to run their offense, and she runs ours very well.”

One thing that will make both seniors happy is a MAC Championship win, but as Shearer stated, time is running out. With only a few days left in her collegiate career, the clock is ticking on her last chance to satisfy that craving for a championship ring.

“I just keep thinking this is my senior year. This is the last chance I have,” Shearer said. “So we just have to do with it what we can and prepare as well as possible for these upcoming games. This is our last chance; we have to give it everything we got.”

Contact women’s basketball reporter Matt Gottfried at [email protected].