No one knows for certain but the young ladies that had to endure the wrath of Bob Lindsay after his Kent State women's basketball team suffered through an utterly fitful first half in Tuesday night's Mid-American Conference season opener against Eastern Michigan.
"I know he went absolutely ballistic," said first-year Eagles' coach Suzy Merchant.
"I didn't go ballistic," Lindsay insisted, "but I did let them know what I was thinking at that point."
With Lindsay's mystery words still echoing in their ears, the Golden Flashes produced a furious 25-0 run in the opening five minutes of the second half and held on to earn an 86-73 victory before 887 relieved fans at the MAC Center.
"It doesn't matter how loud (the halftime speech) was," added Kent senior forward Alana Bader. "It was obviously effective."
No argument there.
After an uncharacteristic first-half effort that produced more fouls (17) and turnovers (15) than points (30) left them trailing by nine, the Flashes stormed out of the locker room and unleashed on the Eagles.
"What we talked about at halftime was raising our effort level, especially on defense," said Lindsay. "And I thought we did that at the beginning of the second half."
Back-to-back 3-pointers by guards Carrie Nance (20 points, five steals) and Dawn Zerman (12 points, six steals), Kent's floor leader who finished with one point and eight turnovers in the first half, brought the team to life. A pair of free throws by forward Jenny Kempf put the Flashes (2-0, 1-0 MAC) ahead to stay, and a steal and layup by Bader culminated the decisive rally that put them on top 55-39.
Scoring was out of the question in those fateful minutes for the Eagles (0-2, 0-1), who had tremendous difficulty even getting the ball in bounds.
"I knew that was going to happen," said Merchant. "They were like rabid dogs ... they just went nuts. That's probably the most intense run I've been involved with in women's basketball for quite some time. That's what championship teams do."
Still the Eagles wouldn't go away, mainly because sophomore guard Kristy Maska couldn't miss.
Maska, who drained 6-of-8 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 33 points, hit two from long range to end the Flashes' rally. And she continued to connect, as the Eagles drew to within 70-66 with 5:23 remaining even though four starters were forced to play the bulk of the second half with four fouls.
But freshman forward Jamie Rubis hit a short jumper to push the lead back to six, and Bader (17 points, six assists) canned a pair of clutch 3-pointers that kept Kent in command down the stretch.
"When we pushed the pace, we were successful," said Lindsay. "We got caught up in the slow pace of the game in the first half, and didn't defend well enough to force the pace."
The Flashes forced 21 turnovers in the second half (40 overall) while committing just five of their own, and shot 49 percent from the field after clanking away at a 23 percent clip in the first 20 minutes.
"I'd be lying if I said I was pleased, because we didn't play particularly well," said Lindsay. "But if time goes on and we learn a lesson about coming to play every game after this, then we'll be better off. We better learn that lesson if we're going to be a good team."
Kent State 86, Eastern Michigan 73
(At Kent State)
Blocked shots _ Eastern Michigan (0). Kent State (2): Stumpf, Beggs. Turnovers _ Eastern Michigan, 40-20. Technical fouls _ none.