DeGrate, defense do it again

Joshua Hudson

Senior point guard Melissa DeGrate drives toward the basket against Buffalo last night. Kent State defeated Buffalo 87-33 at M.A.C. Center. DeGrate was honored before the game as the team’s lone senior.

Credit: Andrew popik

It’s fitting that on senior night, the lone Kent State senior stole the show.

Melissa DeGrate finished with a career-high 30 points and 10 rebounds in the Flashes’ 87-33 victory over the Bulls last night at the M.A.C. Center. The senior guard also set a single-season record for 3-pointers with 61.

With their seventh straight victory, the Flashes (19-8, 12-4 Mid-American Conference) clinched a share of the MAC East crown with Marshall and the second seed in the MAC Tournament. The Flashes will play the winner of the Ohio and Central Michigan game March 9 at Gund Arena.

“We have three games next week, and it is going to be exciting,” said junior forward Lindsay Shearer, who scored 13 points.

“We kind of expected this heading into tonight’s game. It feels good, and we have a sense of accomplishment.”

DeGrate, who was honored before the game, got the night started off on the right foot. She drilled a 3-pointer on the game’s first shot and never slowed down. She hit five 3-pointers in the first half and outscored the Bulls 21-14. DeGrate said she has never started off a game on such a hot streak.

Kent State women’s basketball coach Bob Lindsay said he couldn’t have pictured a better game for DeGrate.

“The last home game she ever played couldn’t have gone any better,” he said. “You couldn’t have even drawn this one up.”

Kent State started the game on a 15-2 run, keyed by eight DeGrate points. Even with a sizable lead in the second half, DeGrate was still shouting and pushing her team during a series of turnovers.

“I thought the team came out and played with enthusiasm and played hard defensively,” Lindsay said. “We did what we had to do to get this kind of victory.”

The Flashes’ defense also made it a difficult night on the Bulls (4-23, 2-14 MAC). Kent State forced 29 Buffalo turnovers and held the Bulls to less than 40 points for the second time this season.

Junior guard Tiffany Kelly injured her ankle in the first half. The extent of her injury was not known after the game.

The night still belonged to DeGrate, who thrilled the fans in her final game at the M.A.C. Center.

”I thought it would be more emotional then it was,” she said. “I am more happy then sad. I enjoyed tonight, and we know how good we are on defense. That’s what is going to make a difference in the MAC Tournament.”

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