Shearer leads Flashes to overtime victory

Matt Gottfried

Kacie Vavrek drives the ball during the first season game between Kent State and Lipscomb Friday night at the M.A.C. Center. Kent State won 69-34.

Credit: Jason Hall

The last time Kent State’s women’s basketball program defeated a Southeastern Conference opponent was against Arkansas in 1993.

Yesterday afternoon, senior forward Lindsay Shearer helped her team to accomplish that very feat as her 38 points guided the Flashes (2-0) to a 68-64 overtime victory over Auburn (1-1).

Down 53-44 with 3:17 remaining in the contest, Shearer exploded for seven consecutive points to pull Kent State within two points to give way to freshman guard Rachel Bennett who drained a pair of free throws at the 25-second mark to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, Shearer took over the game with a dominating defensive performance by the team.

“I knew going into overtime we were carrying a lot of momentum,” Shearer said. “It didn’t even feel like I was scoring all those points, I was just trying to do whatever I could to help the team win.”

“I felt we played a great first half against this team,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “We started to flatten out and get a little tired toward the second half. But during a time-out late in the game, I asked them what’s going to be more important right now, us winning this game or how tired we are right now. They made a decision and did what they had to do in order to win the game.”

Bennett, who shut down Auburn’s top offensive player, led the defense freshman DeWanna Bonner. Bennett, who stands at just 5 feet 9 inches tall, held the 6-foot-4 guard to just eight points after recording 19 points in their season opener.

“Bonner was one of the top five high school players in the country last year,” Lindsay said. “I don’t know if there were any two better players than her. But Saturday, I told Rachel (Bennett) she’s going to play this kid (Bonner), and she looked me right in the eyes and said ‘OK, I’m ready to go.'”

Bennett turned in a career high in points scored, as she drained 11 points for second on the team. Junior Tiffany LaFleur also contributed with eight points, but made her largest impact on defense when her hustle on a loose ball led to a vital rebound that set up Bennett for her game-tying free throws late in regulation.

The Tigers had one last opportunity to score with 10 seconds remaining in the game, but freshman Michelle Hamblin came up huge with a block to seal the Flashes’ second-straight win.

“Kent State did a nice job with their pressure defense, and it really bothered us,” Auburn coach Nell Fortner said. “We weren’t able to run our offense efficiently, and that was a key to the game.”

Friday the Flashes took on Lipscomb, where Kent State hit fast and hard in its 69-34 romping.

By the time Lipscomb drained its first points of the game, the Flashes had aquired a 15-0 lead to put the game out of reach just five minutes in. Kent State came out with a full-court press on the defensive side of the ball and forced a number of turnovers en route to a 39-13 half time lead.

“They beat us last year by two on a last second shot, so we came out with something to prove tonight,” junior La’kia Stewart said. “We owed them one from last year, and that was all we were thinking about. We wanted to come out and jump on them right away and never let them back in the game.”

The 26-point halftime lead allowed Lindsay to reach into his bench and see how the newcomers would fare in the second frame.

Freshman Samantha Scull shined in her first career game at Kent State, scoring a game-high 14 points in addition to hauling in seven rebounds.

“It felt really good to get out there and play,” Scull said. “When I came off the bench, I just wanted to come out and play hard. I was really happy with my performance today.”

Stewart also gave a solid performance, recording 13 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double. Stewart not only succeeded on the offensive side of the ball, but also on defense where she forced a pair of steals and blocked one shot.

Great defense from the Flashes and Lipscomb’s poor shooting combined to force the second lowest offensive output in Kent State history by an opposing team.

“I thought we played with some good intensity at the start,” said Lindsay. “They missed some easy shots there, but so did we. We went down there last year and lost on a last second shot and they remembered that. They weren’t going to let that happen again this time around.”

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