Call the 84-55 loss to Purdue a huge baby step for the University of Akron women’s basketball team, with a setback.
In eight seasons, coach Jodi Kest has led a program moving forward. Ultimately, the appearance in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday can go a long way with respect to recruiting, among other things.
As for this season, she said she is proud of her team and its group of seniors led by Rachel Tecca, Hanna Luburgh, Kacie Cassell and Carly Young.
“I’m not going to let one game define the body of work that we accomplished this year,” Kest said in the postgame news conference.
“I’m so proud of what this team has done all season,” she said. “We’ve developed friendships that are going to last us a lifetime. I’m so happy to be part of it.”
More importantly, they’ve raised the level of expectation for the women’s basketball program, a legacy they added to this year by producing its longest winning streak and most conference wins. That’s something else that won’t be forgotten, Cassell said.
“We’ve set the records — most wins in the season,” she said. “We won the MAC for the first time ever. We came in with goals to get a banner up there [at Rhodes Arena] and that’s what we’ve done.”
In Saturday’s loss, the Zips shot just 31 percent for the game, much of it due to a potent Boilermakers defense. They shot near that just one other time — in a loss to University of California, Davis, when they shot 30 percent.
Prolonging the wait
Kest and her team were forced to wait to get on the court because the opening game between Oklahoma State and Florida Gulf Coast University went into overtime. The Cowboys won the game.
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.