Searching. Searching for anything that resembled a women's basketball team that was favored to win the Mid-Amercian Conference. This is what 817 fans saw in the first half at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, where the 1-7 Northern Illinois Huskies were giving the Golden Flashes a difficult time Saturday. But suddenly in the second half, Kent State found itself, scored 60 points and saved a 20-game home winning streak in the MAC with a 96-61 trouncing of the Huskies. It gave the Flashes a 3-0 conference record and a 5-6 overall mark. "We were very tentative in the first half," said Kent State coach Bob Lindsay. "Our play was barely mediocre. We turned the ball over too much (18 times). "But we played well in the second half. We changed some alignments and picked up our defense. We got some easy baskets and went to the foul line." Northern Illinois coach Liz Galloway was in shock when she read the game stats in the interview room. "We are not playing well right now," said Galloway. "We are a young team and we don't believe in ourselves. That 60 points in the second half is a whole game to most teams. "We buckle under pressure. Kent State knows how to apply it. We have the talent but our morale is so low." The first half was about as bad an exhibition of basketball as Kent State has had in Lindsay's tenure. The Flashes had a height advantage, but failed to use it. Guards were turning the ball over at midcourt. No one could make an entry pass into the post. All in all, it was amazing that Kent State had a 36-28 lead at halftime. A case in point was an uncontested 3-point shot made by Huskie Charbea Haller at the buzzer just four seconds after Kent State had scored. Lindsay denied giving the team a pep talk at halftime, but the Flashes were late in appearing back for the start of the second half. "We just addressed what we had to do," said Lindsay. "We picked up our defense." That all may be true, but the appearance of Alana Bader in the lineup two minutes into the second half seemed to lift the Flashes. Bader hit a soft jumper to give the Flashes a 38-30 lead. A minute later she hit a layup, then another. Her steal and subsequent 3-pointer put the Flashes ahead 51-37 and forced Northern Illinois into calling a timeout. "I just want to be ready when the coach calls on me," said Bader, who was Kent State's leading scorer with 17 points. Lindsay complimented Bader by saying, "She is a good athlete who can do a lot of things. Her minutes will go up as she gets more consistent in her play."
From there on it was all Flashes. The ball went into the low post, and 6-foot-5 freshman Julie Studer responded with 10 points in her first appearance in the MAC Center. Another freshman, Liz Beggs, also was effective down low, as was senior Anne Chicorelli (11 points). "We are trying to get our freshmen playing time," said Lindsay. "Studer has only been available the last four games. Carrie Nance is starting to get better. It just takes time." It helped that senior Carrie Templin had her usual good game. She scored 16 points and pulled in a team-high five rebounds. Guard Ashley Bland scored 13 points, which included a 9-of-9 effort from the foul line. In fact, Kent State was 40-of-51 from the charity stripe. Kent State will host Ball State Monday at 7 p.m.