Defense continues to earn victories for KSU women

Joshua Hudson

Kent State’s Tiffany Lafleur tries to block a shot against Northern Illinois last night at the M.A.C. Center.

Credit: Andrew popik

As Bob Lindsay sat down for the postgame press conference, he took a long look at the box score.

The Kent State women’s basketball coach said he wasn’t quite sure what to say.

“Well how do you describe this,” Lindsay said talking about his team’s 61-48 victory over Northern Illinois.

Did he want to talk about another stellar performance by the defense or sluggish play by the offense? Actually it was a little bit of both — more or less a typical Kent State game.

The Flashes (14-8, 7-4 Mid-American Conference) turned an ugly offensive performance in the first half into a victory over the Huskies (6-15, 3-7 MAC). The win was keyed by another suffocating defensive performance, which has become a staple of this year’s team — even though they made the switch from last year’s zone to man-to-man.

“I think when we play man, we pressure the ball better and our guards do a good job of getting into the passing lanes,” junior forward Lindsay Shearer said. She finished with 17 points. “We got a couple of transition plays today with our guard pressure.”

And the Flashes needed every bit of the defensive performance to make up for their offensive effort, or lack thereof, in the first half.

Kent State shot just 26 percent in the first half, including just 1-of-13 from behind the arc. The Huskies used that to their advantage and built a 15-7 lead midway through the half.

The Flashes battled back to cut the lead down to four at the break. The Huskies also held an advantage on the glass, 21-12. That was mainly due to the outside shooting the Flashes put on display.

“We were jacking up shots, and they were getting the defensive rebounds,” senior guard Melissa DeGrate said. “We should have took the time to run the offensive instead of throwing up shots. We also need to finish the shots because we weren’t making anything.”

Luckily, the Flashes forced 16 turnovers in the first half to keep them within striking distance at the half.

“We went into halftime and said we can’t be doing this,” Lindsay said. “We went back inside in the second half and that was a little more successful for us.”

Kent State started the second half on a 15-4 run to give it a 38-29 lead that the Flashes would never surrender.

DeGrate, who was playing with a wrap on her separated left shoulder, led the way for the Flashes with a double-double — 20 points and 10 rebounds. DeGrate said she is considering surgery but for now is just sucking it up and playing.

“The shoulder hurts even though I have a wrap on it,” she said. “Coach Lindsay told me to suck it up and quit worrying about it. When the season is over I can take care of it, but right now, I just got to play with it.”

Just like the movies

Kent State’s win featured a guest appearance from Coach Ken Carter in the first half. The inspiration for the recent movie Coach Carter was set to talk to the Flashes before the game but ran into traffic problems. He spoke to Lindsay about five minutes before tipoff and spent the rest of the first half talking on the radio and watching the game.

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