It was fitting and emotional and just plain fun, capped with an impressive and important victory.
So went Senior Night for Miami University’s only two seniors, Courtney Osborn and Kirsten Olowinski, on Thursday at Millett Hall. It may or may not have been the last home game for two of the greatest players in MU women’s basketball history, but if it was, it was pretty good stuff.
Osborn and Olowinski combined for 27 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists while hitting 11 of 15 field goals in a 73-39 rout of Kent State before a crowd of 481.
“You play four years somewhere, you give your heart and your soul, and you’ve been surrounded by great teammates and coaches for four years … it’s a lot to take in,” said Osborn, a 5-foot-10 guard from Fishers, Ind. “But we know that while this may be our last game at Millett, we’re not done yet. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Osborn and Olowinski, a 6-1 forward from Erie, Pa., both said the finality of Senior Night hasn’t hit them yet.
“Once it does, I’m sure there will be tears,” Olowinski said. “It’s definitely an emotional thing. You get attached to the people, the place — it’s kind of helped shape you. But there’s still plenty of games ahead of us. Although they may not be here, it’s still with the same people.”
Osborn, the school’s all-time leading scorer, tallied 17 points, four boards and four assists, sinking 4 of 5 treys. Olowinski, the school’s all-time leading rebounder, totaled 10 points, nine caroms, six assists and four blocked shots.
The RedHawks pushed their record to 17-10 overall and 9-5 in the Mid-American Conference East Division. Miami and Bowling Green are one game behind Akron in the East, and MU will head north Sunday to face the Zips at 2 p.m.
The top four teams in the MAC get to skip the first two rounds of the conference tournament and head straight to Cleveland. MU is tied for fifth in the overall standings (determined by winning percentage) and will get a first-round home game next Saturday if they can’t break into the top four.
“I think these past couple games have kind of showed where we’re at right now, but we still have a couple more days of practice before Akron,” Olowinski said. “At this point, it’s about us, about our strengths and playing together. I think we’re ready for the next game and what’s to come.”
Miami got off to a slow start against KSU and trailed 13-9 in the opening seven minutes. The RedHawks then ran off 43 of the next 50 points and crushed the Golden Flashes for the second time this year.
MU shot 66.0 percent from the floor and drained 8 of 16 shots from distance, extending its winning streak to three.
“People talk about peaking,” Miami coach Maria Fantanarosa said. “I don’t believe teams peak at certain times of the year. I think when they’re led by seniors with character, good things happen.
“The last three games have been the first time that we’ve had the same starting lineup, and it’s taken us to another level. Once again, led by Courtney and Kirsten. They’re keeping everyone involved, and it’s making us a confident team.”
Fantanarosa will be sad when her two seniors have to move on, but she’s determined not to think about that right now.
“We talk about their success on the court, but as people and as students, they’re first class,” the MU coach said. “They are who we want representing Miami women’s basketball in every aspect of the word. When you go into their Senior Night, you want to make it a big deal, but you can’t because we’re still trying to win a championship with them.
“We have to make sure that we throw those emotions on the shelf and focus on the task at hand. I’m not thinking that I have another month or month and a half coaching them. I’m thinking more, ‘We’ve got to have a good day today. Let’s go.’ I owe it to them to have a good day today.”
Many RedHawks played well Thursday. Hannah Robertson and Erica Almady scored eight points apiece, and Haley Robertson, Kristin Judson and Kelsey Simon all added seven.
Almady and Simon were perfect from the field, and Simon had four blocks and four rebounds. Hannah Robertson chipped in five assists.
It’s been a dreadfully long year for Kent State (3-24, 1-13), a 76-48 loser to Miami in January. Ashley Evans scored 13 points as the Flashes shot 28.8 percent from the floor.
“The frustrating thing is, we did get off to a super start,” first-year KSU coach Danielle O’Banion said. “Defensively, we just made too many mistakes early that Miami was able to capitalize on. That’s what good teams do, so kudos to them for executing. They shot 66 percent for the game. Quite honestly, it’s nearly impossible for a team to overcome that.”
All 10 RedHawks that saw action scored. Freshman center Jessica Rupright continues to be sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.
Osborn and Olowinski, who were honored in a pregame ceremony, went to the bench for good with 2:19 remaining. They drew a standing ovation as they left the floor together.
“That was kind of when you realized it,” Osborn said. “You see the fans and the support that you have, not only our parents, but those that come every single game. That was a nice reception.”
“For me personally, I don’t think emotions really swayed me one way or the other (tonight),” Olowinski said. “After the jump ball, it was game time. I definitely think it was one of those things where you got to a media timeout or something and you realized, ‘This is it. Let’s go.’ But actually in the midst of playing, I don’t think I even realized it.”
Kent State will visit Buffalo on Sunday at 2 p.m.