KSU blasts Zips in second half

Joe Murphy

Coach Lindsay credits team for

win No. 300

Kent State point guard Malika Willoughby drives around Akron’s defense during the game at James A. Rhodes Arena Saturday.

Credit: Joe Murphy

After five tries, the Flashes finally won a conference game on the road.

And by the way, coach Bob Lindsay became the first women’s coach in Mid-American Conference history to win 300 games. He is only the third MAC coach to reach 300 wins, following Bob Nichols of Toledo and James Snyder of Ohio.

That’s the order Lindsay wants Saturday’s 57-35 win over Akron (3-18, 3-7 MAC) remembered. Lindsay doesn’t want to talk about his 300th win coming in the same place as his first career win came 16 years ago.

He doesn’t want to talk about his accomplishing a feat no other MAC women’s coach has.

He just wants to talk about his team giving up its fewest points since 1996 when it gave up 29 against Coppin State.

“This really isn’t about me, it’s about my team,” Lindsay said after the game.

“It’s about the kids that are playing right now,” he said. “I’d rather talk about how they played today. My team played very, very well today. They played very hard. That’s the story byline. It’s not what I’ve done; it’s what they’ve done.”

For Lindsay’s team to win No. 300 with defense seems fitting. The Flashes (13-8, 6-4 MAC) have staked their reputation on pressuring the ball on defense over the years, especially this season. After a poor defensive effort on Wednesday against Marshall in which Kent State gave up 84 points, the team rebounded and played its style of basketball, giving up 49 fewer points.

As lopsided as the final score was, the first half was anything but. The Zips matched the Flashes’ pressure on defense as Akron forced 11 turnovers before the break. Akron finished the half up by one, at 25-24. The Flashes’ lack of offense stemmed from junior forward Lindsay Shearer’s early foul trouble. Shearer committed two fouls in the first five minutes of the half and didn’t see any action after.

But Shearer and a different Flashes team came out in the second half. Shearer scored all of her 13 points and grabbed six of her seven rebounds after the break.

She started the second-half scoring by banking in a 3. Then No. 24 moved inside the paint and did the rest of her damage there, backing down her defender for easy baskets. When she wasn’t backing them down, she was spinning around them and finishing strong with a left hand, scoring her other 10 points within feet of the hoop.

“Anytime you get in foul trouble, you can sit on the bench and see what the defense is doing and how you can attack it,” Shearer said. “That’s how I came out in the second half. I knew where to attack. In the low post, I got some easy layups.”

Akron played the second half with a lid on its rim as nothing seemed to fall. When the Zips weren’t turning the ball over on shot clock violations, they were missing two and three shots at a time. The Zips finished the half with 10 points on 4-of-28 shooting from the field, including a span of almost 11 minutes without a field goal.

“I think Akron became a tired team, and they couldn’t make shots and couldn’t make plays in the second half,” Lindsay said. “That had a lot to do with our pressure. We came out, established some pressure, and the cumulative effect was shown in the second half.”

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