The Bowling Green Falcons earned a spot in the 2014 Women's National Invitation Tournament quarterfinals with a 63-53 victory over the Michigan Wolverines on Thursday night at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio. The victory is the second for BGSU against Michigan this season and extends their school record for home wins in one season to 16.
One of the significant aspects of this game was the contributions from two of BGSU's three seniors in comparison to their output during the second round. Against St. Bonaventure, Alexis Rogers and Jill Stein combined for just two points and seven rebounds, and the two points were not scored until the final two minutes of the game. Against Michigan, the pair fared far better.
Rogers played more than twice the minutes that she had in the previous game, and the Falcons were rewarded with 20 points and six rebounds. She made seven of her eight shots, including two 3-pointers, as well as all four of her free throws. Stein posted a double-double for the sixth time this season by scoring 10 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. She also gave out five assists.
The other important take-away from this victory was Bowling Green's clutch ability to shoot the ball. The team shot 48 percent during the first half, but that would be considered paltry compared to their second half performance. The Falcons attempted 18 shots in the second half and made 12 of them (66.7%). That includes four makes in seven tries beyond the arc. Overall, they put through 56 percent of their attempts and drilled nine 3-pointers.
Michigan and BGSU played ping-pong with the lead during the opening minutes of the game. There were four lead changes and five different ties, the last of which was 19-19 with 7:03 left in the half. To that point, neither team held more than a three-point lead.
From that point, however, the Falcons dominated the remainder of the period. Jasmine Matthews broke the final tie and gave BGSU the lead for good with a 3-pointer as the clock ticked towards the six-minute mark. One minute later, Michigan scored their final field goal of the half, but Alexis Rogers answered that with a 3-pointer of her own. After a basket by Matthews and a free throw from the Wolverines, Stein closed the half with a pair of layups for a 31-22 BGSU lead. Michigan missed their final seven shots of the half.
The Falcons turned up the half-court offense and bled the clock during the second half. That, coupled with their high-percentage shooting, kept Michigan from cutting into the Bowling Green lead despite the fact that Michigan shot 50% during the second half and created several second-chance opportunities.
The Wolverines made the opening bucket of the second half to pull within seven and were still within shouting distance, down 52-43, with seven minutes to go. At that point, BGSU finally put the game away with a 9-0 run fueled completely by the Falcons' contingent of seniors. The 61-43 lead held through the final three minutes, although Michigan cut it to 10 by the time the horn sounded.
The final score of this game (63-53) was nearly identical to that of the first meeting between these two teams on November 8th (63-52).
In addition to the heroics of Rogers and Stein, fellow senior Jillian Halfhill dropped in 18 points and sank four 3-pointers. Jasmine Matthews made a trio of treys to contribute 11 more points. For Michigan, Nicole Elmblad scored 15 and pulled down seven rebounds, while Cyesha Goree finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
BGSU improves to 30-4 and will host the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Monday, March 31 at 7:00 p.m. EST. Rutgers is coached by C. Vivian Stringer, who owns over 900 career victories. They are 25-9 this season and went 12-6 during American Athletic Conference play. Four of those six losses were against either undefeated Connecticut or defending NCAA champion Louisville.
Michigan concludes their season with a 20-14 record.