Bench leads Flashes to sixth straight win

Joe Murphy

Usually, very little can be accomplished in only 13 seconds.

But in basketball, 13 seconds is an eternity.

They were all sophomore center Mallorie Griffith needed to seal a 60-56 win for the Flashes over Mid-American Conference East rival Miami Saturday.

Kent State’s win, coupled with a Marshall loss, gave the Flashes a tie for first with the Thundering Herd in the MAC East. A win Tuesday against Buffalo would give the Flashes a first-round bye and a division title.

With just over a minute left in the game and the Flashes up 57-56, junior forward Lindsay Shearer put up a shot that was off the mark. Miami (14-12, 8-7 MAC) looked to secure a rebound and take the lead on the next possession. But the active Griffith used the missed shot to bring down her career-high 11th rebound of the game. Griffith went back up with the ball and dropped in her ninth point with 57 seconds left, putting Kent State (18-8, 11-4 MAC) up by three.

She wasn’t done.

On Miami’s next possession, instead of crashing the board, Griffith became as stiff as one. She planted her feet and let Miami’s Amanda Jackson run her over.

Jackson was called with the charge with 44 seconds left, and the Flashes regained possession. Griffith added a clutch free-throw late, giving the Flashes a two-possession lead.

Griffith’s foul shot gave her 10 points for the day and her first career double-double. It gave the Flashes a hard-earned sixth win in a row.

“Mallorie had a great week of practice,” associate head coach Lori Bodnar told 640 AM WHLO after the game. “She was focused today. She came up big. Someone would miss a shot, and you’d see Mallorie flying out of nowhere.”

Griffith’s offensive putback was only one of her game-high seven offensive rebounds. As a team, the Flashes only managed 14 second-chance points off 15 offensive rebounds.

While the end result was their fourth straight win on the road, the Flashes’ 40-minute journey wasn’t as smooth as the previous three. It was at the 17:31 mark of the first half that Kent State’s second-leading scorer Melissa DeGrate picked up her second foul. Kent State coach Bob Lindsay sat DeGrate down, and she would not see the court again until the second half.

Without DeGrate’s outside shot, the Flashes took the game inside. Griffith and La’kia Stewart came off the bench to score 10 combined first-half points. But both teams had trouble finding the basket late in the first half. The last point of the half came at the 3:52 mark when Miami’s Cindi Merrill made the second of her two free-throws, tying the game at 22.

The RedHawks came out red hot in the second half, and they built a 10-point lead. But after that, the Flashes’ defense kept Miami off the scoreboard.

Kent State took its first lead when Melissa DeGrate knocked down a 3, making it a 52-51 game. DeGrate scored 16 points in just 17 minutes of action.

Some key defense by Tiffany Kelly also made the difference as she drew several key fouls late in the game.

“We would’ve lost this game by double digits early in the season,” Bodnar said. “These kids are really recognizing what their role is on this team. Tiffany Kelly took two major charges today. She doesn’t realize how much she helps us. She’s our defensive stopper.”

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