CLEVELAND _ The Kent State women's basketball team fought off a determined Ohio University squad in the quarterfinals of the Mid-American Conference Women's Tournament at Gund Arena Tuesday.
With the 85-78 victory, the Flashes will meet Miami on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the MAC semifinals.
Credit for the win goes to the Kent State seniors. Julie Studer, Carrie Nance and Liz Beggs scored the final 20 points as the Flashes held the Bobcats at bay down the stretch.
"These three seniors have played on three great teams at Kent State, ones that have beaten nationally-ranked teams and that have played in NCAA Tournaments," said Kent State coach Bob Lindsay. "They should make those plays at the end of the game. That is what this is all about, not freshmen making plays but seniors. It is their team."
Ohio University coach Lynn Bria was exhausted at the end of the game.
"I think we're a team of great character," said Bria of her Bobcats who were beaten by margins of 21 and 28 points by Kent State earlier this season. "We put everything we had on the court."
The game opened with the two teams sparing it out. With the game tied at 10, Nance made a layup and a foul shot. Lisa Wube added a layup off an offensive rebound and the Flashes were off and running. By the 6:45 mark, Kent State was on a 19-1 run and grabbed a 29-11 advantage. It seemed that the Bobcats were going to fold.
But that was far from the truth.
Playing a very physical game by bumping each Kent State player on every cut and sending all five players to the boards, Ohio soon crept back into the game, especially when Studer bruised her knee and had to sit out the rest of the first half. Beggs picked up her second foul as did Kristi Shibata. With all three on the bench, Ohio outscored Kent State the rest of the half and trailed by 11 (38-27) going into the locker room.
"I thought Ohio played as hard as they could, they played to win," said Lindsay. "Coach Bria said she told the kids Sunday to pack for eight days. They expected to win. A lot of teams would have packed it in after being beaten as badly as we beat them previously."
In the second half, the game never achieved any sort of continuity. With the physical play at both ends of the court and bodies all over the place, fouls were called. The game was stopped many times and the players never got on track.
"It was difficult," said Shibata. "But that is part of the game and we have to deal with it."
"It was the most physical game I've ever been in," said Studer.
Lindsay noted that it was difficult for Kent State to develop any sort of offense.
"Our team played well in spots at both ends of the court," said Lindsay. "At other times, we were tentative. Then we put them on the foul line. But our players stepped up and made the plays they had to win."
Kent State did get the second half lead out to 16 points, but Ohio refused to buckle. The Bobcats slowly chipped away and soon had the lead down to nine points with 9:02 left.
Each thrust by Ohio was met by Kent State. The Bobcats cut the margin to four with a minute left when the Flashes threw away a couple of passes. But Kent State, with Studer, Beggs and Nance being perfect from the foul line, answered every challenge.
In fact, the Flashes made 19-of-20 foul shots in the second half. Ohio, on the other hand, made 17-of-24.
Studer showed why she should have been MAC player of the year. The center connected on 8-of-11 field goals and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the foul line for 22 points. She also had four rebounds in just 27 minutes.
Nance added 19 points and Beggs, after missing her first foul shot, made 11 in a row and scored 15 points. Shibata played one of her better games, scoring 18 points.
Kent State had a 40-33 edge in rebounding.
Ohio was led by Heather Laughlin with 16 points. Lori Moorman and Ronita Whitfield had 15 each.
Phone: (330) 678-5460
MAC TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL
Kent State 85, Ohio 78
(At Gund Arena)
Blocked Shots _ Ohio (1): Whitfield 1. Kent State (7): Shibata 1, Studer 1, Nance 1, Csaszar 4. Turnovers _ Kent State, 21-20. Technical fouls _ none.