KSU women lose

By Don Dreger Record-Courier assistant sports edit Published:

AMES, Iowa _ It was 9 a.m. Saturday morning when a faithful band of 30 Kent State women's basketball fans met at the Cleveland Airport to catch a flight to the NCAA opening round at Iowa State University in Ames.

The Flashes were destined to meet the host team, the Iowa State Cyclones at 6:45 p.m. These are the same Flashes who have won the hearts of many people in the Portage County area.

The fans, who numbered over 100 by gametime, weren't enough. Most of the 9,221 in attendance were from Iowa and the Cyclones _ encouraged by their faithful _ pulled out a 79-76 victory.

The game was as good a game as one could ask for with KSU having led as many as six times.

With only 47 seconds left, Iowa State led 79-76. KSU had three shots at the basket but could not convert.

"We had to use a lot of energy to win this game" said Iowa coach Bill Fennelly, who collapsed at the end of the game from hyperventilation. "I feel sorry for coach Lindsay, who is my best friend."

KSU, which suffered from being excluded from the foul line where Iowa converted 24-of-32 while the Flashes were only 5-of-8, played with a lot of energy.

"I think we showed something tonight to the seeding committee," said KSU Coach Bob Lindsay. "We played Iowa State as well as any Big 12 team did this season. I think we earned respect for our conference."

Kent native Gary Falstad said it best in the concourse of Cleveland Airport.

"I'm going to see Kent State get some respect. It is long overdue," he said. "No one respects the great job the girls have done."

What Falstad was referring to was the 13th seed the Flashes received in the tournament after winning 19 games in a row and sweeping through the Mid-American Conference with a 21-0 record. KSU had been ranked as high as 32nd in the country but was treated by the NCAA Tournament committee as if it were a 50th ranked squad.

While Falstad was looking for respect, Dick Kotis and his wife Jeannie were going out of admiration.

"These girls play with a star," said Kotis, who played and coached at KSU. "They are the most unselfish group of athletes I've ever seen. They play hard all the time.

"As a former coach, I would hate to coach against them," he said. "They have no weakness."

While this sounds like a grandfather speaking, Kotis knows more about KSU than the normal fan. He has attended many games, in all sports over the years, at home and away.

Among the faithful on the plane, were the parents of senior guard Ashley Bland _ Rick and Jan. They have seen KSU in action all over the country this season, including trips to Florida and Virginia.

"The last four years have just been wonderful," said Rick Bland, who makes the two-hour trip from Zanesville for every home game. "Ashley has put so much into the game. We never thought she would able to play considering she had bad feet as a child.

"The fans at Kent have been great. They treat the girls fantastic."

Another fan of the women's team making the trip to Iowa was Donnette Kathera, a cafeteria employee.

"I love these girls," said Kathera. "I see them every day in the cafeteria. They are so nice to everyone. I don't miss a game with my granddaughter."

And then there was Pam Anderson, who works at WKSU.

"My daughter is a little Flashette," said Anderson. "The team is a perfect role model for my daughter. They are strong women who not only play with a lot of heart, but are gracious as well.

"Until this year, I had not seen them play. But this has proved to be a positive experience for me and my daughter."

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