Kent State challenges Cardinals

Golden Flashes had 52-game home winning streak broken this year.

The women's basketball team set several milestones for Ball State last weekend. But none of those milestones come close to a milestone Kent State had broken early this season - a 52-game home winning streak.

Until losing to Toledo Jan. 9, the Golden Flashes had one of the longest winning streaks in the nation. While Ball State has not played at Kent State in more than three years, head coach Tracy Roller, that's a good thing.

Roller said the Cardinals (18-4 overall, 10-1 Mid-American Conference) youthfulness will be a benefit, as only one of the Cardinals even know what it is like to play there and how hard it is. Senior Shala Crook - the lone Cardinal veteran who has played at Kent State - said even though the environment will be hard, the team can not back down.

"They've got some hecklers over there," Crook said. "We've just got to stay focused. I hope (the team) doesn't focus on the crowd."

Even looking past the tough crowds that Kent State is infamous for, the Cardinals will be facing a team that has won four-straight MAC East Division titles. The Golden Flashes (13-9, 9-2) enter the game as the No. 1 team in the East again and have a five-game winning streak.

The Cards will have to focus on a problem which has plagued the team all season, starting the game well. In the team's last game, the starters struggled to get into the rythem of the game, and Roller wasted little time in substituting for them. But following the game, she laid out an ultimatum - play well, or individuals will start coming out, not groups.

"You can just see the feel of the team as the practice is going," Roller said. "(The team) is like 'Come on, we need this.' You can see it's becoming more a sense of urgency (to get the game started better)."

Kent State enters with one of the best post players in the league in 6-feet-6-inch sophomore Andrea Csaszar. Containing Csaszar and the rest of the Golden Flashes will be a main key for the Cards, as they have struggled with strong post play offenses in the MAC all season.

"We're going to have to communicate with each other," Crook said. "I'm sure it is going to be really loud, so we're going to need to make sure we're there for help (defense) and have each other's backs."

With an offense that Roller said is "always moving," the Cardinals have little room for mistake against the Golden Flashes.

"Their offense is so different from what other teams run," Roller said. "They do a lot of handoffs, which a lot of teams don't do. And I told the team that everyone on their team is a blue-collar worker and plays hard every possession.

"But it's just another game," she said. "And that's the way I would want it to be. I want (the team) to go in there thinking that we just need to worry about us."


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