Women play up to the big games

Joshua Hudson

Malika Willoughby forces her way up to the basket against Western Michigan on Jan. 18. The Flashes host Eastern Michigan during Pack the M.A.C.C. at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Credit: Andrew popik

Several Kent State women’s basketball players said the team has had a problem this year with playing to the level of certain opponents.

But that could be a good thing with the Flashes recent victory over Bowling Green, and upcoming games with Eastern Michigan and Mid-American Conference East-leading Marshall.

The Flashes (11-7, 4-3 MAC) hope to be able to play to the level of another quality opponent when they meet the Eagles (13-3, 3-2 MAC) 7 p.m. tomorrow at the M.A.C. Center.

“We prepare for the big teams and we don’t for the little ones,” senior guard Melissa DeGrate said. “Which is not a very good thing to do.”

Junior forward Lindsay Shearer added the Flashes are a big-game team and seemed to take some teams for granted.

That won’t be an option for this next stretch of games.

Eastern Michigan won 11 of its first 12 games to start the season, but have fallen on hard times with just a 3-2 MAC record. Eastern Michigan is also the defending MAC tournament champion.

The Eagles enter the game with the fourth-best scoring average in the conference with 69.8 points per game. The improved depth and play of the bench should also become a key factor for the Flashes down the home stretch. Sophomore center Mallorie Griffith is now healthy and will provide valuable minutes in the low post.

“It is important to have people that can play, so Mallorie has been an important player for us in our lineup,” Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said.

Sophomore forward La’Kia Stewart and junior guard Tiffany Kelly have also helped bolster the Flashes lineup in the last week. Both are coming off of concussions.

Pack the M.A.C.C.

Kent State also will look to use the home crowd to their advantage. Saturday is Pack the M.A.C.C. night with 20 tickets costing just $20.

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