Kent State faces what should be on one of the best teams on its schedule Friday.
Northwestern probably won’t end the season with the best record of Kent’s opponents; there are a lot of good teams in the Big Ten.
But the Wildcats are the only team from a power conference Kent State is scheduled to play this year. They have all five starters back from last year’s team, which was 17-16 and beat Ball State in the first round of the WNIT. Two other Northwestern players didn’t start last year but were all-Big Ten honorable mention earlier in their careers.
Top player is 6-1 sophomore forward Nia Coffey, who was a First Team All-Big Ten player as a freshman while leading the Wildcats in scoring (15.3) and rebounding (8.1).
6-1 junior guard Maggie Lyon was Big Ten freshman of the year two years ago. She makes 38 percent of her three-point shots. Point guard Ashley Deary and Karly Roser both have been all-Big Ten honorable mention.
6-5 center Alex Cohen is one of the few taller players that Kent’s Cici Shannon (6-4) will face this year. Cohen was third in the Big Ten in blocks with 2.2 per game last year.
As a team, Northwestern was third in the nation last season with 6.7 blocks per game.
Northwestern is 2-0. It beat Illinois-Chicago of the Horizon league 102-48 on the road in its opener.
It beat Hampton, a team that has won five straight Mid Eastern Athletic Conferences championships, 62-36, on Sunday in Evanston. The Wildcats held Hampton to 14.1 percent shooting.
NU coach Joe McKeown played for Kent State from 1976 to 1978 and was captain his senior year. He still holds the KSU single-game assists record (15 against Bowling Green in 1978).
After graduation, McKeown coached for a year as an assistant on Kent State’s women’s team.
McKeown will be going for his 600th coaching victory against Kent State. His teams at George Washington and New Mexico State made the NCAA tournament 17 times. His 88 wins at Northwestern in six years are more victories than NU won in the previous 11 years (77).
The game is at 8 p.m. Kent time. Audio on Golden Flashes iHeart Radio and Akron Fox sports 1350, starting 10 minutes before the game.
You can get video through the “school pass” of Big Ten Network Plus. You’d have to buy a monthly pass for $9.95, then cancel it after the game. (Otherwise it renews automatically month to month.)