Flashes’ defense swallows Bobcats

Joshua Hudson

Kent State’s Lindsay Shearer struggles with Ohio’s Erin Isbell for the ball during last night’s game at the M.A.C. Center. Kent State defeated Ohio 74-39.

Credit: Andrew popik

Junior forward Lindsay Shearer said the Flashes were “punked” in their first meeting against Ohio.

It was the first Mid-American Conference game of the year, and the Flashes were defeated by Ohio University 56-50 on Jan. 5.

Kent State returned the favor last night with a 74-39 beat down of the Bobcats at the M.A.C. Center. The victory marks the fifth straight for the Flashes (17-8, 10-4 MAC), which climbed to within one game of first place in the MAC East. Marshall lost at Bowling Green 73-62.

Shearer said that revenge was just one of the factors that inspired the Flashes before the game.

“We knew coming out that we had a lot of things to play for,” she said. “We just have to play for now and focus on what’s ahead of us and not behind us.”

The defense once again took center stage and did so early. The Flashes forced 12 turnovers in the first 10 minutes. They converted those turnovers into a 22-6 lead that they never surrendered. Kent State held Ohio without a field goal for nearly the first 10 minutes.

Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said this team is starting to look like one of his best — mainly because of the defensive intensity.

“They are starting to take some pride in holding teams in the 40s and 30s in games,” he said. “I think this team has much more of a commitment in playing hard and getting the job done on defense.”

The Bobcats (11-14, 7-7 MAC) made a 6-0 run at the start of the second half to cut the lead down to 31-22. But that would be the closest the game would get. The Flashes would answer with an 18-3 run that finally put the game away.

Lindsay said the difference with this game compared to the first meeting was the Flashes’ toughness inside. The Bobcats outrebounded the Flashes 46-30 in the first meeting, including 14-7 on the offensive side. But Kent State outrebounded Ohio 45-32 in last night’s game.

“One of the things that happened in the first game was we got beat up on the offensive boards,” he said. “I thought we righted the ship a little bit tonight. Plus the run we had helped us a little bit confidence-wise.”

Senior guard Melissa DeGrate led the way for the Flashes with 19 points and six steals. Shearer added 18 points and eight rebounds, while junior guard Malika Willoughby chipped in 12 points.

Willoughby said the success the Flashes had on offense was a result of taking care of the ball. Kent State turned the ball over 16 times, which was a shock to DeGrate who said, “That is good for us.”

The Flashes must turn their attention to the Miami Redhawks. The game has importance not only in MAC tournament seeding, but in first place in the MAC East. The Flashes must win if they are to have a shot at winning the division.

“I feel that we are getting better than what we were at the beginning of the year,” Willoughby said. “We keep getting better as the games pass. We are starting to play better each game.”

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