Women outlast Akron

Joe Murphy

DeGrate, Shearer lead Flashes to tough win over resiliant Zips


Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said Melissa DeGrate does not adapt well to change.

But she could have fooled anyone with her play in Saturday’s game against Akron. DeGrate scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a 66-57 win over the winless Zips (0-15, 0-4 Mid-American Conference).

DeGrate was forced to play the power forward position instead of her usual shooting guard spot, as the Flashes (9-6, 2-2 MAC) had only six scholarship players suited up to play. Four other players traded in uniforms for warm-ups as they nursed injuries.

DeGrate used a matchup against Akron’s post players to hit shots from all sides of the perimeter. She went 8-of-16 and knocked down four of nine 3 pointers.

“I took advantage of the situation of a low-post player coming out and guarding me,” DeGrate said. “They’re either going to have to play the penetration or the shot. In games, a lot of perimeter players guard me. They’re going to get their hands up and they’re going to be out there playing me tough. Post players can’t do that.”

DeGrate scored seven straight points early in the second half to turn a relatively close game into a 14-point lead. She scored 14 of her game-high 25 points after halftime, as junior forward Lindsay Shearer, the MAC’s leading scorer, drew double teams for most of the night. Shearer finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, her third double-double in as many games. The two combined for two-thirds of the team’s points and rebounds.

The Flashes needed nearly every point and every rebound Shearer and DeGrate provided, as the Zips scraped and clawed for every loose ball late in the game, giving Kent State a scare.

“Even though they’ve lost the number of games they’ve lost, they don’t stop competing,” Lindsay said of the Zips. “There are a lot of teams that would fold it up and play for spring break. Those kids aren’t doing that. They compete for 40 minutes. That’s a credit to all of them.”

While a smaller lineup fits Kent State’s style of a fast up-and-down play better, Lindsay looks forward to the return of inside forces and a more effective pressure defense in the near future. For now, it appears DeGrate is adjusting to change just fine.

Magic number 60

With the 66 points, the Flashes are now 8-1 when scoring 60 points or more.  Shearer is currently the MAC’s leading scorer at 17 points per game. Kent State, which was picked second in the MAC East, currently sits in third place with its 2-2 conference record, behind Ohio and Miami.

Added players

The Flashes added walk-on Ciera Johnson to their lineup in late December. Johnson, a freshman guard, previously played for Schenley High School in Pittsburgh as a four-time letterwinner.

Sarah Burgess also joined the team as a transfer from South Carolina. She is ineligible to play this season, but she will give the Flashes some much needed help in practice. She currently is slated to be a senior next year but could be granted an extra year of eligibility due to injuries.

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