Mike Zoller

Heating up at just the right time, the women’s basketball team collected its first Mid-American Conference win of the season, upending the Kent State University Golden Flashes on the road Saturday afternoon 64-59.

“We’ve continued to improve each month during the preseason,” Miami Head Coach Maria Fantanarosa said. “Our November was a good start and our December was better. January we are playing a lot better.”

The ‘Hawks trailed by as many as six in the second half and by five with just 10 minutes left to play, but the RedHawks were able to rally and pull off the road win.

“I think it was a great win for us, especially on the road,” senior Amanda Jackson said. “Stepping up on our game and doing what we’re doing is working.”

Behind Jackson’s 31 points, the RedHawks improved their record to 9-7 overall and 1-1 in the MAC. The ‘Hawks also got strong play from Laura Markwood on the defensive end and Ashley Hawkins off the bench.

“Laura Markwood guarded Kent State’s best player and did an exceptional job on her,” Fantanarosa said. “She got a few steals. She was just a great rebounder. Laura did all the little things well.”

Hawkins picked up the slack of junior Jenna Schone, who Fantanarosa said had her first off game of the year. Hawkins notched 10 points off the bench and grabbed six rebounds in her 31 minutes of work.

“Ashley was the X-factor today” Fantanarosa said. “She has been solid on the defensive end for us. She stepped up and hit some big shots for us. Schone had an off game today and Hawkins picked up for her.”

However it was the play of Jackson that led the ‘Hawks. Her 31 points were the 12th time this season she has scored at least 20 points in a game, tying a school record held by Heather Cusick. Jackson found a groove early in the game and the Golden Flashes defense was unable to get her out of it.

“My outside shots were falling and I just took what they gave me,” Jackson said. “I was feeling it and just wanted to win.”

Jackson’s leadership has helped lead a team that has slowly been molding over the past couple of years, according to Fantanarosa.

“Amanda is a leader in every aspect,” Fantanarosa said. “Her overall game is at an elite level. Because she is a great scorer she takes a lot of pressure off of the team. She is also a good passer and gets her teammates involved in the game. She contributes so much on and off the court.”

Jackson’s 31 points also moved her into second place on Miami’s all-time scoring list, and now trails only Cusick for most points in a Miami career. Baring injury, Jackson should pass Cusick’s 1,728 points as she now has 1621 and 14 more regular season games to play.

“It’s coming with the games,” Jackson said. “Every game people let me know what’s going on. It’s nice to make that milestone but I just take it one game at a time. I just want to get the wins.”

The RedHawks will host the University of Akron Zips at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at Millett Hall, as they go for their second straight MAC win.

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