Women’s basketball pulls itself out of slump, defeats Chippewas

Deanna Stevens

La’Kia Stewart, guard for the Kent State women’s basketball team, goes for a layup against Central Michigan on Saturday. The Kent State women came out on top with a score of 57-51. JAKE KELLOGG | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Being consistent is usually not a bad thing.

But when it comes to the Kent State women’s basketball team consistently having to dig itself out of a first-half hole, it is one of those times consistency needs a change.

The Flashes (12-6, 5-2 Mid-American Conference) began Saturday’s 57-51 victory over Central Michigan (10-8, 1-6 MAC) with an effort to change their first-half ways.

The Flashes came out on a 7-0 run and defensively shut down the Chippewas. Central did not score until six minutes into the first half.

“It was a typical game for us like the past six or seven,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “But we came out of the gate pretty well.”

According to senior forward Lindsay Shearer, foul trouble to Kent State starters caused a decrease in intensity, which led Central Michigan to end the first half on a 13-2 run. The rally gave it a 28-22 lead going into halftime. ÿÿ

Even with Kent State’s defense forcing 16 turnovers in the first half, Central Michigan beat Kent State in points in the paint, second chance points, fast break points, and points off the bench during that time.

Most of those points off the bench came from Central guard Casey Manning, who finished the game with 16 points, 10 of which came in the first half.

“We try to rely on our defense to win,” Lindsay said. He added that sometimes playing well defensively is not enough.

In the second half, the Chippewas drew first blood and put themselves up by eight points, which would be their largest lead of the game.

But a comeback, led by Shearer, put the Flashes in a game-winning position.

“Lindsay (Shearer) was very active in the second half,” Lindsay said. “If she doesn’t do what she does, then we don’t win games.”

Shearer recorded the 21st double-double of her career with 26 points and 12 rebounds. She scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the second half.

No other Kent State player scored in double digits, but junior guard Sarah Burgess and junior center Mallorie Griffith added eight points apiece to the effort.

Despite strong play from the Flashes, the Chippewas did not fade away. At 52-51, they pulled within one with 20 seconds to go. But clutch free-throw shooting by Shearer and senior guard Malika Willoughby put the game out of reach.

According to Lindsay, Willoughby’s defense on the Chippewas point guard was key to the victory.

Playing well defensively was important because Central Michigan is one of the best 1-6 teams in any conference, he said.

“Their record is deceiving,” Shearer said. “They are a tough team. They played hard.”

But after a tough road loss against Eastern Michigan, the victory was welcomed, Shearer said.

“It’s good for us to win at home,” she said. “But something’s got to change. Maybe Wednesday we can play 40 minutes, not just 20.”

The Flashes take on Toledo at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the M.A.C Center.

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