Jill Stein scored a layup nine seconds into the game, and the Bowling Green Falcons never looked back as they notched a 63-52 victory over the Michigan Wolverines yesterday afternoon in New Rochelle, N.Y. at the Iona Tip-Off Tournament.
The Falcons raced to a 7-0 start and led by as much as 13 points in their wire-to-wire victory. Michigan was able to cut the lead at times to as little as two points, but the Wolverines could never get back to as much as a tie game after those first nine seconds.
Bowling Green continued their hot shooting from the second half of their exhibition win in the first half of this game. BGSU was 12-for-22 from the floor and sank six of 13 three-point attempts. The percentages slipped a little bit during the second half, but at the end of the game, the Falcons had very good field-goal percentages of .478 overall and .375 from three-point range.
On the other side, Michigan was held to much poorer shooting numbers by the BGSU defense. Michigan connected on just 11 of 29 shots (.379) in the first half and were even worse in the second 20 minutes, as they were just 7-for-26 (.269). That amounted to a mark of .327 for the game. From three-point land, the Wolverines were just 5-for-21 (.238).
The Falcons out-rebounded Michigan by a count of 35-30, including 26-17 on the defensive end, and also led 16-10 in assists. However, there are two areas which will need to get better in future contests -- free-throw shooting and turnovers. BGSU was just 6-for-14 from the charity stripe in the first half and only 10-for-20 (.500) overall, while Michigan made 11 of their 14 free throws. In the turnover battle, Bowling Green committed 19 (as opposed to Michigan's 17). Still, the Falcons did outscore Michigan 28-19 in points off turnovers, and that's definitely a positive.
Jillian Halfhill led all scorers with 18 points and made four of her eight attempts from beyond the three-point arc. She also gathered in five rebounds and dished out five assists. Erica Donovan, in her first season at BGSU as a transfer from North Carolina State, scored 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting. Donovan also contributed six rebounds and three assists. Stein, who scored the game's opening basket, eventually accounted for seven points and a game-high 11 rebounds. All five Falcon starters played at least 27 minutes.
Michigan played a four-guard starting lineup and used only eight players in all during the game. Shannon Smith led the Wolverines with 17 points, while Siera Thompson scored 12 and Nicole Elmblad had 10. Cyesha Goree added eight points and seven rebounds. Overall, Michigan's bench contributed only five points and nine rebounds.
The Falcons will now play Iona today at 3:30 p.m. in the conclusion of the tournament. Iona defeated the Arizona Wildcats yesterday 82-75 in overtime. The Gaels used a three-guard lineup and played just seven players overall, but the starters were incredibly effective. Damika Martinez, the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year, scored 35 points in her season debut. She made 12 of 25 shots, including five of ten from long range. She also had seven rebounds. Her counterpart on the preseason All-MAAC team, Joy Adams, had a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Sabrina Jeridore added 12 points and eight rebounds. Bowling Green is 2-0 all-time against Iona.
One final note:
During a post-game interview, BGSU head coach Jennifer Roos revealed that Katrina Salinas suffered an injury during practice leading up to the Iona tournament and will be lost for the season. Salinas is a senior from Sacramento, Calif. and scored 11 points in 15 bench minutes in the team's exhibition win over Tiffin. Last year, she played in 35 games, all off the bench, and averaged 8.9 minutes per contest.