Kent State Golden Flashes women's basketball
The Kent State Golden Flashes women's basketball team represents Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, United States. The Golden Flashes compete in the Mid-American Conference East Division and last played in the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament in 2002. Founded in 1973 as a club team, the Kent State women's basketball team received varsity status in 1975 and played their first official game in January 1976. Through the 2016–17 season, the Flashes have five total appearances in the NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament along with three Mid-American Conference tournament championships, five MAC overall titles, and eight MAC East division titles. Home games are held at the Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, which has been the team's home venue since 1977. The head coach is Todd Starkey, who was hired April 19, 2016.
|Kent State Golden Flashes|
|University||Kent State University|
|Head coach||Todd Starkey (3rd season)|
|Arena||Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center |
|Colors||Navy Blue and Gold|
|NCAA Tournament Second round|
|NCAA Tournament Appearances|
|1982, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002|
|Conference Tournament Champions|
|1998, 2000, 2002|
|Conference Regular Season Champions|
|1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002|
|Conference Division Season Champions|
|1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2017|
Women's basketball has been played at Kent State University since shortly after the campus first opened in September 1913, when it was known as the Kent State Normal School. As a teacher training school, the university's early enrollment was predominately female and president John McGilvrey felt that physical activity was important, so four intramural women's basketball teams were organized in early 1914. This basic setup continued through the 1960s in various forms with both women's physical education and intramural sports housed at Wills Gymnasium, the school's original gym. Men's physical education and varsity athletics were moved to the new and larger Men's Physical Education Building in 1950.
The passage of Title IX in 1972 resulted first in the establishment of three club-level women's basketball teams in 1973. The current program received varsity status in 1975 and played their home games at Wills Gymnasium for the 1976 and 1976–77 seasons before moving to Memorial Gym for the 1977–78 season. The team's first official game was held January 17, 1976, a 72–56 loss to Ashland College at Wills Gym. The Flashes won their first game on January 31 with a 70–30 victory over John Carroll University and finished 5–6 in their inaugural varsity season after going 1–11 in their final club season. Judy Devine, who was also serving as assistant athletic director and director of the new women's athletic program, was the team's first head coach, holding the position for the first two seasons. She led the team to a 9–8 season in 1976–77 and finished 14–14 as head coach, being succeeded in 1977 by Laurel Wartluft.
Initially, the team competed in the Ohio Association of Intercollegiate Sports for Women (OAISW) as the Mid-American Conference did not sponsor women's sports until 1981. The OAISW did not include a league schedule, but did have a post-season tournament. In 1979, Kent State was 23–8, their first 20-win season, and finished third at the OAISW tournament. Kent State's best finish was the 1981 tournament, where they lost 67–62 to the Ohio State Buckeyes in the championship game to finish second in the state with a 24–10 record. The following season was the first for Mid-American Conference play as the NCAA began sponsoring women's athletics. Although the Flashes finished tied for third in the conference standings and finished third at the conference tournament, Kent State was the MAC representative for the inaugural NCAA Women's Division I tournament as both the MAC champion and runner-up that season were already committed to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) and rules prevented players from participating in both tournaments. The Flashes were seeded eighth in the 32-team field, falling to top-seed Southern California in the opening round.
Laurel Wartluft coached the team through the 1985–86 season, finishing with an overall record of 135–119 (.539) and 28–55 (.337) in the MAC. Wartluft led the team to three consecutive 20-win seasons from 1978–79 through 1980–81 and their first NCAA tournament appearance, but was unable to finish higher than seventh in the MAC after a tie for third place in 1982. She was succeeded by Richard Keast, who coached through the 1988–89 season, compiling an overall record of 33–50 (.398) and 18–30 (.375) in the MAC. Under Keast, the team's best season was his first year, going 15–13 overall and 8–8 for a fourth-place finish in MAC play.
Following the 1988–89 season, Keast was succeeded by Bob Lindsay. Lindsay would go on to coach the team for the next 23 seasons, earning MAC records with 260 conference wins and 418 wins overall. Under Lindsay, Kent State was a regular MAC contender, as the team posted 15-consecutive winning seasons from 1990–91 through the 2006–07 season, including seven-consecutive seasons of 20 wins or more from 1995–96 through 2001–02. Lindsay also led the team to five MAC regular-season, three MAC Tournament, and seven MAC East Division titles, including six consecutive MAC East Division championships from 1998 to 2003. Kent State also made four NCAA appearances, had one WNIT bid, and played in seven consecutive MAC Tournament championship games during Lindsay's tenure.
Kent State won their first MAC regular-season title in 1996, finishing 24–7 overall and 15–2 in MAC play. Despite a loss to Toledo in the MAC Tournament Championship game, the Flashes were selected as an at-large team in the 1996 NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament, as a tenth seed. In the opening round of the tournament, the Flashes posted their first tournament win with a 72–68 upset win over seventh-seeded Texas A&M. The team fell to second-seeded and host Penn State in the second round.
The program's best season in MAC play was the 1997–98 season as they finished 23–7 overall and 18–0 in MAC play, the fourth team in MAC history to accomplish the feat. It was followed by a victory in the MAC Tournament championship game over Toledo and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament as a 13th seed. In the NCAA Tournament, Kent State fell at fourth-seeded Iowa State, 79–76.
Following a 22–7 season in 1998–99 that featured a second-consecutive MAC East title, but a loss in the 1999 MAC Championship game, the Flashes set a program mark for wins by posting 25 wins in the 1999–2000 season, finishing 25–6 with a 15–1 record in MAC play. After a victory over Toledo in the 2000 MAC Tournament championship game at Public Hall in Cleveland, the Flashes were seeded ninth in the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to eighth-seeded Arizona 71–60 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Kent State returned to the MAC Tournament championship for a sixth-consecutive year in 2001 following their fourth-straight MAC East Division title, but fell to top-seeded Toledo in overtime at Gund Arena in Cleveland. The following season, the Flashes won their second MAC regular-season title, their fifth-straight divisional title, and made a seventh-consecutive appearance in the MAC Tournament championship game, where they defeated the Ball State Cardinals at Gund Arena. The team advanced to the NCAA Tournament as a 14th seed, falling at Kansas State in the opening round.
The Flashes won their six-straight MAC East title in 2003, but finished 16–13 overall and failed to advance to the MAC Tournament championship game for the first time since 1995. The 2003–04 team finished 19–10 overall and made the program's first appearance in the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), where they were defeated at St. Joseph's. They would return to the top of the MAC East in 2005 and to the MAC Tournament championship game in 2005 and 2006, but fell to Bowling Green both years. Kent State returned to the postseason in 2010 and 2011 following 20-win seasons, earning bids to the 2010 and 2011 WNIT.
At the conclusion of the 2011–12 season where the team went 6–22 overall and 5–11 in the MAC, Bob Lindsay's contract was not renewed by the university. The season was the worst season for the program and for Lindsay since his first season in 1988–89 when the team was 5–22 overall and 5–11 in the MAC and was just the third losing season under Lindsay. Lindsay was "stunned" by the firing as were basketball analysts. Athletic director Joel Nielsen stated that the decision to not renew Linday's contract was not based on the results of the 2011–12 season, but did not specify details beyond saying he reviewed the "entire body of work." Lindsay finished at Kent State with an overall record of 416–256 (.620) and 260–120 (.684) in the MAC.
Kent State announced the hiring of Danielle O'Banion as head coach on April 18, 2012, under a four-year deal. Prior to coming to Kent, O'Banion has served on the coaching staff at Memphis as an assistant and later as associate head coach and had previously been on staff as an assistant for five seasons at Minnesota and one season at Harvard. She played collegiately at Boston College from 1997–2001. O'Banion and the team received national attention in 2014 for O'Banion's fight against cancer after she was diagnosed with Stage II Lymphoma in November. Women's basketball coaches from around the U.S. wore lime green in support.
The program continued to struggle, going 3–27 overall and 1–15 in MAC play during O'Banion's first season, followed by a 7–23 overall and 4–14 record in the MAC in 2013—14, and 5–25 overall and 3–15 in the MAC for 2014–15. After finishing the 2015–16 season 6–23 overall and 3–15 in MAC play, the university elected to not renew O'Banion's contract. She concluded her tenure at Kent State with an overall record of 21–98 and a MAC record of 11–59. Todd Starkey, who had previously been an assistant coach at Indiana, was hired April 19, 2016, as the program's sixth head coach.
In his first season as head coach, Todd Starkey led the team to a 19–13 overall record and 13–5 in conference play to win the MAC East division title, the program's first since 2005. The season ended with a loss in the opening round of the WNIT, Kent State's first post-season appearance since 2011. Starkey was honored as the MAC Coach of the Year, the first KSU women's basketball coach to win the award since Bob Lindsay in 1998 and third overall. Senior Larissa Lurken was named MAC Player of the Year, the program's sixth recipient of the award and first since 2006.
Kent State has won three Mid-American Conference Women's Basketball Tournament titles, winning in 1998, 2000, and 2002. The team has made 11 total appearances in the MAC championship game, including seven consecutive from 1996 to 2002. They are 32–28 in the tournament through 2018.
|Mid-American Conference Women's Basketball Tournament|
|1982||4th||Irving Gymnasium · Muncie, Indiana||Quarterfinal||W 70–68 over (5) Bowling Green|
|Semifinal||L 77–70 to (1) Miami|
|Third Place||W 75–74 OT over (2) Eastern Michigan|
|1987||4th||Centennial Hall · Toledo, Ohio||Semifinal||L 71–66 to (1) Bowling Green|
|1988||6th||Millett Hall · Oxford, Ohio||First||L 80–73 to (3) Miami|
|1991||4th||Memorial Gym · Kent, Ohio||First||W 79–72 over (5) Miami|
|Cobo Arena Detroit||Semifinal||L 90–73 to (1) Toledo|
|1992||3rd||MAC Center · Kent, Ohio||Quarterfinal||W 86–75 over (6) Eastern Michigan|
|Cobo Arena · Detroit||Semifinal||W 106–103 OT over (2) Bowling Green|
|Final||L 78–57 to (1) Toledo|
|1993||3rd||MAC Center · Kent, Ohio||Quarterfinal||W 71–57 over (6) Central Michigan|
|Battelle Hall · Columbus, Ohio||Semifinal||W 79–69 over (2) Miami|
|Final||L 96–68 to (1) Bowling Green|
|1994||4th||MAC Center · Kent, Ohio||Quarterfinal||W 74–65 over (5) Miami|
|Battelle Hall · Columbus, Ohio||Semifinal||L 70–61 to (1) Bowling Green|
|1995||5th||Millett Hall · Oxford, Ohio||Quarterfinal||L 77–71 to (4) Miami|
|1996||1st||MAC Center · Kent, Ohio||Quarterfinal||W 87–61 over (8) Ball State|
|SeaGate Centre · Toledo, Ohio||Semifinal||W 88–57 over (4) Ohio|
|Final||L 73–66 to (2) Toledo|
|1997||2nd||MAC Center · Kent, Ohio||Quarterfinal||W 106–63 over (7) Central Michigan|
|SeaGate Centre · Toledo, Ohio||Semifinal||W 90–80 over (3)Miami|
|Final||L 88–64 to (1) Toledo|
|1998||1st||MAC Center · Kent, Ohio||Quarterfinal||W 111–73 over (8) Ball State|
|SeaGate Centre · Toledo, Ohio||Semifinal||W 80–65 over (4) Ohio|
|Final||W 64–56 over (3) Toledo|
|1999||2nd||MAC Center · Kent, Ohio||Quarterfinal||W 84–48 over (7) Buffalo|
|SeaGate Centre · Toledo, Ohio||Semifinal||W 60–50 over (3) Western Michigan|
|Final||L 65–50 to (1) Toledo|
|2000||1st||Public Hall · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||W 71–68 over (6) Buffalo|
|Semifinal||W 96–94 OT over (5) Eastern Michigan|
|Final||W 71–60 over (3) Toledo|
|2001||2nd||Gund Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||W 85–78 over (10) Ohio|
|Semifinal||W 86–70 over (6) Miami|
|Final||L 74–65 OT to (1) Toledo|
|2002||1st||Gund Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||W 83–63 over (8) Ohio|
|Semifinal||W 74–50 over (4) Miami|
|Final||W 73–59 over (2) Ball State|
|2003||5th||MAC Center · Kent, Ohio||First||W 83–60 over (12) Ohio|
|Gund Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||L 87–72 to (4) Western Michigan|
|2004||3rd||Gund Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||L 64–58 to (6) Marshall|
|2005||2nd||Quicken Loans Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||W 93–74 over (7) Ohio|
|Semifinal||W 73–57 over (3) Marshall|
|Final||L 81–75 to (1) Bowling Green|
|2006||2nd-E||Quicken Loans Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||W 69–52 over (3W) Ball State|
|Semifinal||W 70–56 over (1W) Eastern Michigan|
|Final||L 64–39 to (1E) Bowling Green|
|2007||2nd-E||Quicken Loans Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||L 72–68 to (3W) Northern Illinois|
|2008||5th-E||Quicken Loans Arena · Cleveland||First||W 75–67 over (4W) Northern Illinois|
|Quarterfinal||L 85–57 to (1E) Bowling Green|
|2009||2nd-E||Quicken Loans Arena · Cleveland||Opening||L 66–54 to (6E) Buffalo|
|2010||3rd||Quicken Loans Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||W 68–55 over (6) Central Michigan|
|Semifinal||L 51–49 to (2) Toledo|
|2011||4th||Quicken Loans Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||L 69–65 to (5) Eastern Michigan|
|2012||9th||Convocation Center · Athens, Ohio||First||L 58–40 to (8) Ohio|
|2013||12th||Stroh Center · Bowling Green, Ohio||First||L 76–35 to (5) Bowling Green|
|2014||12th||Worthen Arena · Muncie, Indiana||First||L 73–38 to (5) Ball State|
|2015||11th||Convocation Center · Ypsilanti, Michigan||First||L 70–52 to (6) Eastern Michigan|
|2016||11th||Convocation Center · Ypsilanti, Michigan||First||L 73–60 to (6) Eastern Michigan|
|2017||3rd||Quicken Loans Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||L 67–63 to (6) Toledo|
|2018||10th||Savage Arena · Toledo, Ohio||First||W 80–76 OT over (7) Toledo|
|Quicken Loans Arena · Cleveland||Quarterfinal||L 72–50 to (2) Buffalo|
|Totals: 11 finals appearances, 3 championships, 32–28 record in tournament|
Championship game victories highlighted in ██ yellow; losses in ██ wheat
Through the 2013–14 season, Kent State has played in five NCAA tournaments, making the 1996 tournament as an at-large team, with automatic bids to the 1982, 1998, 2000, and 2002 tournaments. Their combined record is 1–5, the win a 72–68 victory over Texas A&M in the opening round of the 1996 tournament. Additionally, the Flashes have played in four Women's National Invitation Tournaments, in 2004, 2010, 2011, and 2017, falling in the opening round all four years.
|NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship|
|1982||8th||Stokely Athletic Center · Knoxville, Tennessee||Mideast||First||L 99–55 to (1) Southern California|
|1996||10th||Bryce Jordan Center · University Park, Pennsylvania||West||First||W 72–68 over (7) Texas A&M|
|Second||L 66–43 to (2) Penn State|
|1998||13th||Hilton Coliseum · Ames, Iowa||Mideast||First||L 79–76 over (4) Iowa State|
|2000||9th||Thompson–Boling Arena · Knoxville, Tennessee||Mideast||First||L 73–61 to (8) Arizona|
|2002||14th||Bramlage Coliseum · Manhattan, Kansas||Mideast||First||L 93–65 to (3) Kansas State|
|Women's National Invitation Tournament|
|2004||Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse · Philadelphia||First||L 61–51 to St. Joseph's|
|2010||Crisler Arena · Ann Arbor, Michigan||Region 4||First||L 69–34 to Michigan|
|2011||Palumbo Center · Pittsburgh||Region 2||First||L 64–56 to Duquesne|
|2017||Crisler Center · Ann Arbor, Michigan||First||L 67–60 to Michigan|
|Judy Devine||1975–1977||14–14 (.500)||—||—|
|Laurel Wartluft||1977–1986||135–119 (.531)||28–55 (.337)||1 NCAA Tournament appearance|
|Richard Keast||1986–1989||33–50 (.378)||18–30 (.375)||—|
|Bob Lindsay||1989–2012||418–256 (.620)||260–120 (.684)||4 NCAA Tournament appearances|
3 WNIT appearances
5 MAC regular-season championships
5 MAC Tournament championships
7 MAC East Division titles
|Danielle O'Banion||2012–2016||21–98 (.176)||11–59 (.157)||—|
|Todd Starkey||2016–present||32–32 (.500)||18–18 (.500)||1 WNIT appearance|
1 MAC East Division title
|Bonnie Beachy||1981||Basketball Weekly Honorable Mention|
|Judi Dum||1987||American Women's Sports Federation Second Team|
|Amy Sherry||1995||Women’s Basketball News First Team|
Basketball Times Honorable Mention
Associated Press Honorable Mention
|Amy Sherry||1996||Basketball Times Honorable Mention|
|Dawn Zerman||1999||Kodak Honorable Mention|
|Dawn Zerman||2000||Women’s Basketball News Third Team|
Associated Press Honorable Mention
Kodak Honorable Mention
|Lindsay Shearer||2006||Women’s Basketball News Third Team|
Kodak Honorable Mention
Player of the Year
Home games are held in the 6,327-seat Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center, commonly known as the MAC Center, which is shared with the KSU men's basketball, wrestling, women's gymnastics, and women's volleyball teams. The MAC Center also houses the Kent State Athletic Department and has offices for all Kent State varsity athletic coaches. Additionally, the facility is used for commencement exercises, concerts, and other special events. The arena features a parquet floor and a central hanging scoreboard along with two video boards in opposite corners. It opened in 1950 and is the oldest arena the Mid-American Conference and 20th oldest in college basketball. The MAC Center has served as home of the Kent State women's basketball team since 1977.
For the team's first season in 1976, the Flashes played home games at Wills Gymnasium, which had previously served as the home of the men's basketball team from 1925–50. By 1976, the seating capacity of Wills Gym had been reduced from the original 4,000 seats to around 100 and the building was in a dilapidated state. During the 1977 season, as part of the university complying with the requirements of Title IX, five of the seven scheduled home games were held at the MAC Center, then known as Memorial Gymnasium, with the remaining two at Wills. The first game played by the team in the MAC Center was on January 12, 1977, a season-opening 49–46 loss to Cleveland State. The Flashes recorded their first win at the MAC Center on February 2, 1977, a 64–62 win over Ashland. The team's final game at Wills was a 52–51 win over Wooster on February 12, 1977. Beginning in the 1977–78 season, all home games were moved to the MAC Center, which received its current name in 1992 following an extensive renovation. From 1997 through 2001, the team had a 43-game winning streak in the building, and posted a 50-game conference winning streak between 1996 and 2002. The record for largest crowd for a Kent State women's basketball game is 3,516, set on February 23, 2006 against the Miami RedHawks.
|Kent State vs. current Mid-American Conference teams through 2017–18|
|Kent State vs. non-conference rivals|
The Golden Flashes' arch-rival is the Akron Zips from the University of Akron, a fellow member of the Mid-American Conference East Division and a traditional rival in multiple sports, located approximately 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Kent in Akron, Ohio. The Zips and Flashes first met during Kent State's final year as a club team and met for the first official time as varsity teams on February 14, 1976 at Memorial Hall in Akron during Kent State's first season as a varsity team. The Zips won the inaugural varsity meeting 73–67 and the two teams played in every successive season except for the 1982–83 and 1988–89 seasons. Akron joined the Mid-American Conference in 1992, giving the rivals two meetings per season.
For many years, the rivalry was one-sided in favor of the Golden Flashes. Following the 2008 games, both Kent State wins, the Flashes built a 43–4 lead in the series, which included a run from 1989–2008 where they won 23 of 24, among them five games where the Flashes had 100 or more points in the game. Akron won at James A. Rhodes Arena in 1998 to end a 15-game Kent State winning streak in the series that began in 1989. Kent State won the rematch in 1998 when the teams met in Kent to start an 18-game series winning streak that ended in 2009 with a Zips win in Akron. Beginning with the Zips win in 2009 through the 2015–16 season, the Zips took 11 of 16 meetings, including eight in a row before Kent State won both games in 2017. Akron won for the first time in the MAC Center since 1988 with a 77–71 win in 2013, ending a 20-game losing streak in the building. The win also marked the first time the Zips not only won consecutive games, but also swept the season meetings in the series. Through the 2017–18 season, the series stands at 51–16 in favor of Kent State. The game is also part of the multi-sport Wagon Wheel Challenge.
Kent State also had a long-standing rivalry with the Toledo Rockets during much of the 1990s and early 2000s as the teams were regularly in contention for the conference championship and met yearly in games with conference championship implications. The two teams regularly finished first and second in the mid-1990s with Kent State taking the regular-season titles over second-place Toledo in 1996, 1998, and 2000, and the Flashes finishing second to the Rockets in 1997 and 2001. Both teams split their meetings during the 1999 regular season and tied for the title. Kent State has played Toledo in the Mid-American Conference Women's Basketball Tournament championship game seven times, the first in 1992 and then again for six consecutive seasons from 1996 through the 2001 game. The Rockets have taken five of the seven championship game meetings and took four of the six from 1996 to 2001. Through 2017–18, Toledo leads the overall series 40–31.
Outside the Mid-American Conference, Kent State has played regional rivals Cleveland State and Youngstown State more frequently than any other teams, with both series dating back to 1976 during the Flashes' inaugural varsity season. Both the Vikings and Penguins are members of the Horizon League and play the Flashes on a semi-regular basis. Through the 2016–17 season, Kent State has played Cleveland State 29 times, with the most recent game in 2015. The Flashes lead the series 16–13 following a 60–49 Cleveland State win in Kent. The Flashes' series with Youngstown State spans 42 games and was last played in late 2017. Kent State leads the series with YSU 28–14 following a 55–44 KSU win in Youngstown.
- June Daugherty, head coach of the Washington State Cougars women's basketball team. Daugherty served as an assistant coach for the Flashes from 1983–85.
- Brenda Frese, head coach of the Maryland Terrapins women's basketball team since 2003, which won the 2006 NCAA National Championship. Frese began her coaching career as an assistant on the Kent State women's basketball team in 1993, and served as an assistant for the 1993–94 and 1994–95 seasons.
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