Kelly, Stewart pounce on Bobcats to advance to semifinal

Joe Murphy

CLEVELAND — It took the best defense in the Mid-American Conference 20 minutes to shake off the rust of a week without competition.

Junior guard Tiffany Kelly took 20 minutes to make a decisive difference in the Flashes’ MAC tournament quarterfinal win over Ohio at Gund Arena last night.

Senior Melissa DeGrate scored a career-high 32 points, but the difference came from Kelly and La’kia Stewart. Kelly was listed as day-to-day for much of the week with a left ankle injury. It kept her out of practice and left questions of how rusty she would be. Kelly answered any questions with a career high in points (13), rebounds (5) and steals (4).

While Kelly did much of her damage from the floor with two 3-pointers and 5-of-11 shooting overall, she showed why her defense brings praises from coaches.

Kelly planted her ankle and took charges from Bobcats, who were set on running her over on their way to the basket. She also showed a quick first step, stepping in front of passes and coasting in for easy layups.

“This is the first time she’s been on the court for more than about one minute,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. “She got hurt in the last game, and she hadn’t practiced at all. She did a great job for us, for someone who hadn’t practiced in a week.”

Not to be outdone on the offensive end was Stewart. She shot 80 percent from the floor and tied a career high with 18 points.

Contact women’s basketball reporter Joe Murphy at [email protected].