Flashes to battle MAC West leading Eagles

Matt Gottfried

This past weekend Kent State women’s basketball coach Bob Lindsay set a mark no other coach in MAC history has reached.

With a 73-56 victory over Buffalo Saturday, Lindsay became the first basketball coach, men’s or women’s, to accomplish 200 victories in the Mid-American Conference.

But tonight, Lindsay will face his toughest task of the season in an effort to record his 201st conference victory, as Kent State (11-5, 4-1 MAC) takes on No. 1 Eastern Michigan (11-5, 5-0 MAC).

In the two teams’ only meeting last year, the Flashes emerged victorious in a narrow 63-60 win. Returning all but one starter, the Eagles are expected to put up another fight in the conference clash despite losing 32 of their 45 meetings. They enter the contest on a seven-game winning streak and winners of nine of their last 10 games.

“We have to play well for the entire 40 minutes,” Lindsay said. “We can’t show up for eight minutes at the end of the game because that’s just not going to happen. We have to take care of the ball better and rebound with more consistency.”

Lindsay added the team needs to focus on shooting as well.

“We also need to make the easy shots, especially free throws,” Lindsay said. “They have arguably one of the top two players in the league in Ryan Coleman and we’re going to have to make sure we slow her down. But she’s definitely not the only threat they have.”

Coleman, a senior guard for the Eagles, is No. 2 in the MAC in scoring with 17.8 points per game.

That average is second only to Flashes’ senior forward Lindsay Shearer, who averages 19.6 points a game. Coleman’s senior teammate Nikki Knapp has also put up impressive numbers this season, averaging 14.2 points per game herself. The two Eagles will serve as the Flashes’ biggest offensive threat faced thus far.

Over the past week, which featured conference wins over Miami and Buffalo, Shearer has averaged 25.5 points and 10.5 rebounds a game. Those performances helped her earn MAC Player of the Week honors, the eighth such time in her career.

Yet despite her recent success, Lindsay said his star player is still capable of putting up even greater numbers.

“Lindsay (Shearer) is capable of even better then that,” said Lindsay. “She’s capable of putting up some tremendous numbers both offensively and rebounding-wise. She showed a little bit of that (against Buffalo), but I think she is still capable of so much more.”

Kent State, looking to climb one step closer to No. 1 in the MAC, will travel to Eastern Michigan for the 7 p.m. tip-off this afternoon. With a win, it would move the Flashes into a tie for No. 2 in the conference overall behind only Bowling Green (14-2, 5-0 MAC).

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