There’s a record at stake for the University of Akron women’s basketball team when the Zips play Northern Illinois at 7 tonight in Rhodes Arena.
But coach Jodi Kest isn’t paying that much attention to it. The Zips have an eight-game winning streak, the longest of the season.
Kest can’t completely ignore talk of records. The Zips will be playing for the team’s ninth consecutive win, which would break the school mark established in the 1980-81 and 1995-96 seasons.
“I just think about one game at a time and that’s how we approach each season,” Kest said by phone after Tuesday’s practice. “I think if you look at records and look ahead, I think you’re going to forget what’s in front of you.”
But it’s difficult not to take a look at what the Zips have accomplished.
With a 9-3 conference record, they’ve given themselves the opportunity to get a bye in the Mid-American Conference Tournament in Cleveland in March. And Kest will have the chance to earn her second consecutive 20-win season.
The Zips are doing it without forward Sina King.
King’s loss dealt the Zips a blow because she gave them a third scoring option who also rebounded, just like teammates Rachel Tecca and Hanna Luburgh. Getting over the loss of King required adjustments on the part of the players and the coaching staff.
“I don’t know time-wise, but it definitely took some time because she meant so much to the team,” Kest said. “The players had to step up their games. Not only did people coming off the bench have to step up their games, but everyone has stepped up their games, even Rachel [Tecca] and Hanna [Luburgh].”
Tecca and Luburgh provide a one-two punch for the Zips. Tecca, an Archbishop Hoban graduate, averages 23.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game and Luburgh is right behind with 22.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
The season hasn’t been without bumps. The Zips lost three of their first four MAC games. That sent Kest and her coaching staff to the drawing board to discern how best to use their talent. They figured something out because they haven’t lost since.
“It’s been a fun ride so far,” Kest said. “It’s always about us getting better every day in practice and trying to improve every game.”
But an occasional record here or there can’t hurt.