Women have chance to knock Marshall out of tournament

Joshua Hudson

Kent State’s Lindsay Shearer draws a charging fowl on Ohio’s Kristian Kirkpatrick during the quarter final game of the MAC tournament Wednesday. The women face Marshall today at2:30 p.m. in the Gund Arena.

Credit: Andrew popik

Malorie Griffith tries to pull the ball into her possesion against Ohio Wednesday night. The Flashes are now on an eight-game winning streak heading into the MAC tournament semifinals.

Credit: Andrew popik

One down, two to go.

The Kent State women’s basketball team is one step closer to achieving its ultimate goal: winning the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

The Flashes took that first step when they defeated Ohio Wednesday night, 93-74, at Gund Arena. For the first time since 2002, the Flashes advanced past the MAC quarterfinals and were able to earn their 20th win.

Now they must turn their attention to MAC East co-champion, Marshall. The Flashes will have the opportunity to knock the Thundering Herd out of the MAC for good. Marshall moves to Conference USA next year.

“We have three games, and it’s going to be exciting,” junior forward Lindsay Shearer said after last week’s game against Buffalo, predicting the Flashes would make it to all three possible games.

To prove her prediction, the Flashes have to correct the problems that plagued them in their victory over the Bobcats.

First off, Kent State won’t have the luxury of repeating its defensive performance. In the first half, the Bobcats shot 60 percent from the floor, including 66 percent from behind the arc.

Ohio entered the game with the worst 3-point percentage in the league (28.5).

“We didn’t guard them in the first half,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “For them to go out and shoot 66 percent from the 3-point line had two facets to it: They were shooting the ball well, and we weren’t guarding them. I contribute most of that to us not guarding them.”

Marshall enters the game fresh off a 68-56 victory over Toledo Wednesday night at Gund Arena.

The Thundering Herd was led by Teyonka Hodge with 15 points. She averaged 7.9 points during the regular season. Sikee Shepard-Hall leads Marshall with an average of 15 points per game.

The Flashes also must find a way to consistently break a pressure defense, something Marshall has done all year.

The Bobcats put constant pressure on in-bound plays and forced several Kent State turnovers. They converted those turnovers into 20 first-half points.

“They had us on our heels in the first half and really took it to us,” Lindsay said. “It was similar to the first game that we had at Ohio. We came into the locker room, and we had two choices — play more aggressively and play to win or go home for the season.”

The Flashes would like to have a repeat performance of their victory over the Thundering Herd earlier this season.

Kent State used a 16-4 second-half run to easily defeat Marshall, 78-62, at the M.A.C. Center. But the Flashes dropped the second meeting with the Thundering Herd, 84-78.

Coincidentally, that was the last time the Flashes lost this season. They enter the game riding a season-high eight-game winning streak.

The winner of the Kent State-Marshall game advances to the MAC Championship to face the winner of the Bowling Green-Eastern Michigan contest. The championship game will tip-off at noon tomorrow.

Contact women’s basketball reporter Joshua Hudson at [email protected].