Women take down Falcons in sloppy game

Joshua Hudson

Kerrie James drives to the hoop last night against first place Bowling Green. Kent State outlasted Bowling Green 62-53 to defeat the MAC’s top team.

Credit: Andrew popik

The Kent State women’s basketball team seemed like it just lost another heartbreaker, instead of defeating a first-place team in the Mid-American Conference.

And who would blame them after turning the ball over a season-high 26 times and committing 21 personal fouls. However, the Flashes (11-7, 3-3 MAC) kept their perfect MAC-home record intact with a 62-53 victory over the Falcons last night at the M.A.C. Center.

“I don’t really feel that excited, and we just beat the No. 1 team in the MAC,” said Kent State forward Lindsay Shearer. “The second half was kind of disappointing, but I guess we just have to forget about that. We just have to think about the positives that we got a win against a good team in the MAC.”

Just over a week ago they looked like kids at Christmas time after a thrilling victory over Western Michigan. After yesterday’s takedown of top MAC contender Bowling Green — not so much.

The Flashes took an early lead thanks to the shooting of senior guard Melissa DeGrate. She scored 13 of the team’s first 23 points and finished with a game-high 21.

“Coach has been telling me to be more aggressive to the basket, so teams have to worry about me penetrating and shooting,” she said. “I think we came out ready to play and I was pumped up and ready to go.”

Kent State’s defense also stepped up and held the top-scoring team in the MAC to just 17 points in the first half. The Falcons shot just 18 percent, including 1-12 from behind the arc.

The defense also shut down Bowling Green’s Liz Honegger. Honegger, who averages 14.1 points per game, scored only one point all night.

Even though the Falcons (12-6, 5-2 MAC) struggled in the first half, coach Curt Miller thought his team could still make a run at the Flashes in the second half.

“Despite how poorly we played in the first half, I still felt that we could make a run at them in the second half,” he said. “But this is a tough place to win and a very difficult place to play when you fall behind like we did.”

The Falcons did just that after cutting the Flashes’ lead down to 10 with less than a minute remaining. The Bowling Green run reminded some of the players of what happened this past weekend at Ball State.

The Flashes held a double-digit lead over the Cardinals but failed to put them away in the second half. The players agreed that this was not something that was going to happen this time around.

“We weren’t going to let that happen,” DeGrate said. “They weren’t going to win this game.”

Shearer said she would have been afraid to go to practice if they let this one slip away.

But that didn’t happen thanks to 11 second-half points by Shearer. The sophomore forward finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.

“In the first half, I was kind of tentative and (associate head coach Lori Bodnar) would tell me to shoot the ball whenever I got it,” she said. “In the second half, I was looking at the basket more and became more of an offensive threat.”

Junior guard Malika Willoughby added 11 points and pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.

Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said his team needs to learn how to play better down the stretch and do a better job of protecting the lead.

“We sometimes don’t play very smart with the lead,” he said. “It’s something that you can work on a little bit in practice, but in all honesty, you have to have players that know how to make the plays and play smart.”

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