Spots still up for grabs in the MAC

Joe Murphy

Women’s basketball team hopes to clinch first place in the MAC

Senior Melissa DeGrate goes for a layup during last Wednesday’s game against Ohio. The final women’s home game is at 7 p.m. against Buffalo.

Credit: Joe Murphy

Melissa DeGrate prayed for it.

Associate head coach Lori Bodnar asked people to go to church and ask for it to happen.

It did.

What is “it”?

Two Kent State wins and two Marshall losses.

Last Wednesday, the Flashes (18-8, 11-4 Mid-American Conference) were 9-4 in the MAC and were two games behind first-place Marshall (11-2) with three games to play.

No. 1 priority for the Flashes: Take care of business against Ohio tomorrow night.

They did, 74-39.

The news came to Lindsay Shearer, Malika Willoughby and DeGrate at the post-game press conference.

Marshall had lost 73-62 at Bowling Green. The Flashes were now within one game of the Thundering Herd. Willoughby showed little emotion at the news. DeGrate and Shearer, on the other hand, couldn’t help but smile.

“We’re rooting for Eastern (Michigan),” Shearer said about Marshall’s opponent last Saturday.

“And I hope (Marshall) loses,” DeGrate added. “I hope they lose; I hope they lose. I’ll be praying, oh my God. I prayed for this game, matter of fact. But we’ve gotta take care of our own business, and then we can look at their score.”

That was the plan Saturday, as the Flashes faced Miami at 2 p.m. in Oxford. Marshall would not take on Eastern Michigan until 4:30. Once again, the Flashes held up their end, winning a battle 60-56. Kent State left the court at Millett Hall only one-half game out of first place — praying.

It was time for the Flashes to take a four-hour drive back home and wait for the final from Eastern Michigan to come in.

By the time the Flashes arrived back in Kent, the Marshall game was a final.

Eastern Michigan 93, Marshall 73.

Kent State now enters its game tonight with Buffalo tied for first place with Marshall at 12-4.The only thing the Bulls (4-22, 2-13 MAC) have to play for is a No. 12 seed in the MAC tournament instead of No. 13. But the Bulls are looking for revenge after the Flashes handed them a 42-point loss on their home court two weeks ago. The Flashes are riding high with a seven-game win streak and a 7-0 record at home in the MAC.

But once again, the Flashes need to take care of business and not look ahead to the tournament.

With a win against Buffalo, the Flashes would be guaranteed a share of the MAC East title and a No. 2 seed in the tournament. The top three teams earn a trip directly to Gund Arena March 9.If Kent State wins tonight and Bowling Green loses to Northern Illinois, the Flashes would earn the No. 1 seed and a MAC regular season title.

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