February winning streak — nothing new for Flashes

Joshua Hudson

Sophomore Kerrie James takes a shot against Northern Illinois Feb. 9. The women’s team plays at Miami at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

Credit: Andrew popik

Being hot in February is nothing new for a Bob Lindsay-coached basketball team.

But, the Kent State women’s basketball coach said this team may be one of his best.

“I have had enough good teams go through here playing well in the month of February, and I know what a good team looks like,” he said. “And I think that this team looks like one of them. I have confidence in this team’s ability to go out and defend people.”

The Flashes (17-8, 10-4 Mid-American Conference) have built a 51-8 record in the past eight seasons in February. The Flashes face one of the MAC’s other hottest teams when they play Miami at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

The Flashes need a win at Miami to stay on pace with Marshall for first place in the MAC East. Kent State currently trails the Thundering Herd, who lost at Bowling Green Wednesday, by one game. Marshall (17-8, 11-3) plays a tough road game at Eastern Michigan (20-5,10-4) Saturday.

However, the Flashes are quick to point out that they must take care of their own business first. Then they can become Eastern Michigan fans for a couple of minutes.

“We’ve got to focus on Miami and take care of our own business,” senior guard Malika Willoughby said. “Once we take care of our own business, then we can take a look at (Marshall’s) score and hope they lose.”

Due to the Flashes’ current winning streak, they still have a chance at securing the MAC East title. However, they will need help, which could come in the form of an Eastern Michigan win over Marshall. Senior guard Melissa DeGrate will have her fingers crossed.

“I hope they lose; I hope they lose,” DeGrate said. “I’ll be praying, oh my God.”

Kent State will look to ride its defense to its sixth straight win, including four straight on the road. The Flashes have held their last five opponents to an average of 41.4 points per game during the win streak. That’s a number the Flashes defense will be looking for again Saturday.

The RedHawks (14-11, 8-6 MAC) enter the game with a five-game winning streak in which they have scored an average of 73 points per game.

“It starts with the guards and the wings putting pressure up on them, and they can’t run their offense,” Willoughy said. “It is kind of hard with someone in your face for 40 minutes. We just collapse on the players.”

The Flashes’ recent road-winning streak can also be linked to an increase in confidence from the foul line. Kent State finished 21-of-24 from the charity strip in its victory over Ohio.

That confidence is something the Flashes will need if they are going to put a stop to the RedHawks’ winning streak.

“The fact that we won our last three games on the road and the last two at Miami certainly doesn’t hurt,” Lindsay said. “If Miami beats us, they will have to play better than us.

“The only thing I worry about in any game is that we play harder than the other team. We will make some mistakes and do some dumb things, but we have outplayed our opponents in the last five games.”

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