Flashes face Falcons in MAC bird battle at Bowling Green

Deanna Stevens

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

The Kent State women’s basketball team is looking to do something no Mid-American Conference team has done all season: defeat Bowling Green – at the Falcons’ nest no less.

And that is not a feat the Flashes are taking lightly.

“We have to play the best game of the year,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “We have to play great defense and execute on offense.”

Kent State (17-7, 10-3 MAC) will face Bowling Green (22-2, 13-0 MAC) at 7 p.m. tonight on the Falcons’ home court. The Flashes are coming off a victory at Akron, pushing their winning streak to four.

Even with the momentum, the Flashes has their work cut out for them. The Falcons are winners of their last 13 games and are riding a 17-game winning streak at Anderson Arena.

Currently No. 2 in the MAC East Division, second only to the Falcons, the Flashes have an opportunity to tie for the No. 1 spot. If Kent State wins the next three games, along with Bowling Green losing the next three, both teams will be 13-3 going into the MAC tournament.

But Lindsay said defeating Bowling Green is less about tournament standings than it is about beating a good team.

“We have to approach this from a four-game standpoint instead of just a one game standpoint,” Lindsay said. “If we beat Bowling Green, they are still in first place.”

A win at Bowling Green would split the season series between the two schools. The Falcons handed the Flashes their first and only MAC home loss of the season with a score of 61-58 in mid January.

Tonight’s game has the makings of being a defensive battle. Ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, on defense, both Bowling Green and Kent State allow opponents fewer than 60 points per game.

As a part of that defense, the Flashes are ranked No. 1 in steals. Senior guard Malika Willoughby leads Kent State, averaging a league-best three steals per game. She is also leading the MAC in assists with more than five per game.

Bowling Green is No. 1 in scoring offense with an average of 69 points per game, while Kent State is No. 3, averaging over 67 points per game.

While Bowling Green may be the top scoring offense in the league, Kent State has the top scorer in the MAC. Senior forward Lindsay Shearer leads the MAC, averaging 20 points per game. Shearer dropped 44 points on the Falcons in last season’s MAC Championship game. She also goes to Bowling Green as the reigning MAC East Player of the Week, the fourth time this season she claimed this honor.

A victory against the Falcons would also be the Flashes’ first win against a ranked opponent this season. The Falcons cracked the Top 25 USA Today ESPN coaches Poll last week.

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