The Bowling Green Falcons held the Northern Illinois Huskies to just 17 first-half points and held off a second-half charge to earn a 57-44 victory on Sunday afternoon at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio. The win is the 12th consecutive for the Falcons against NIU.
|(Click link for boxscore)
|Northern Illinois Huskies||17
|Bowling Green Falcons||32
The two teams entered today's game as the top two defensive teams in the Mid-American Conference. BGSU leads the MAC in scoring defense by allowing just 57.6 points per game, while NIU is second and allows just 63.8 per game. The matchup lived up to the billing.
Bowling Green began the first half with a pair of three-pointers in the first two minutes to take a 6-0 lead, but they followed that start by making just one field goal in a six-minute span. Northern Illinois had an identical stretch of one field goal in six minutes, and theirs was at the start of the game. However, the Huskies converted three quick baskets in a sixty-second span to tie the game 8-8 with 13:01 left in the first half.
The Falcons took firm control of the game during the following ten minutes as they went on a 16-3 run, as the Huskies went 1-for-15 from the field with four turnovers. BGSU broke the tie for good with a three by Jillian Halfhill at the 8:03 mark, and balanced scoring keyed the run, as six different players scored for the Falcons with none scoring more than four.
Natecia Augusta ended NIU's drought by sinking a jumper with 2:59 left in the half, but the Falcons went on a 6-0 mini-run. Their lead went to 17 points on Miriam Justinger's three with 1:29 remaining on the game clock. The teams ended the half with BGSU ahead 32-17.
Bowling Green held Northern Illinois to just seven field goals in 29 attempts (24.1%) during the first half, and only three of those field goals came during the final 13 minutes of the half. On offense, the Falcons made half of their 24 shots and were 4-for-8 from three-point range.
Amanda Corral scored three times for the Huskies in the early minutes of the second half. However, Erica Donovan hit a pair of threes while Jill Stein added a third for BGSU, and the Falcons led by 20 (43-23) with six minutes elapsed in the second half.
For the next seven minutes, however, the Falcons struggled to make shots and to hold onto the ball. BGSU went 2-for-5 but committed a ghastly eight turnovers between the 6:00 and 14:00 marks of the second half. Several of the turnovers were self-inflicted, and many contributed to NIU's 15-4 run during that time. In fact, NIU outscored the Falcons 15-0 in points off turnovers during the second chance, as well as 6-0 in second-chance points and 20-8 in points in the paint.
A layup by Jillian Halfhill with 5:45 left in the game allowed BGSU to breathe with a 49-38 lead. The score remained the same until Alexis Rogers was fouled by Augusta with 2:37 remaining. The Falcons made six straight free throws to push the lead back to 17 points and effectively end the game. The Huskies made just two of their final 13 field goal attempts over the final 6:55, and Bowling Green ended the game with a 13-point victory.
Northern Illinois shot better in the second half (35.3%) and held the Falcons to just 38.9% on their shot attempts. By the end of the game, both teams had made 19 shots from the floor. The difference? Bowling Green made seven (of 17) threes compared to just one (of nine) for NIU, and the Falcons earned ten more free throw attempts (and made seven more) than the Huskies.
Rogers was held to just 1-for-8 shooting and scored only six points, but she pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds. Three Falcons scored in double figures. Halfhill had a game-high 14 points, while Donovan scored 13 and Justinger 11. For NIU, Augusta scored 12 points to lead the team. Corral, NIU's primary scorer, was held to just 11 points and six rebounds.
Bowling Green improves to 16-3 overall and 6-1 in the MAC with the victory. They play twice on the road this week against Ohio and Toledo. Northern Illinois is now 7-10 overall and 3-4 in the MAC. They host Kent State on Wednesday and then travel to Western Michigan for a game next weekend.