It was a defining moment. Taylor Johnson had spun out and planted her face into the hardwood at McGuirk Arena. She lay hurt and motionless. Bowling Green head coach Jennifer Roos happened to be the closest person to Johnson. Roos forgot that Johnson was a player on Central Michigan's team and was Bowling Green's opponent. She attempted to come to Johnson's aid. In a fog, Johnson somehow managed to get on her feet. She fixed her eyes at a distant point on the other end of the court and wobbled off to her team's bench under her own power without even acknowledging Roos. Message sent: We don't need your help!
A brutal non conference schedule has left Central Michigan on its own in seeking a MAC championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament. It is all-or-nothing for the Chippewas. So far, they have been up to the task and are 12-0 in MAC play.
CMU star player Crystal Bradford was hardened representing the United States in the World University Games. Bradford found out what it was like to play the Swedes and Russians. Bradford's teammates had the experience of an NCAA tournament first round loss to Oklahoma last year.
CMU head coach Sue Guevara decided that her entire squad needed to get the same seasoning that Bradford had representing the United States. Her team became a unit against the best opposition in the country. It has been a kill or cure model for success.
Bowling Green became a national force during its non-conference schedule. The Falcons defeated Michigan and Ohio State and have received votes in the national polls. The Falcons were 10-2 entering MAC play.
Led by guard Jillian Halfhill, the Falcons are the embodiment of efficiency. Their style is a slow and steady pace marked by a determination that comes from experience. BG's victories are often not lopsided affairs. The most points that the Falcons have scored against an opponent has been 91 against Miami back on February 9th.
Wednesday night's game means a lot more to Central Michigan's chances of receiving an NCAA bid than Bowling Green's. At 11-1 in conference play, BG is a virtual lock to get at least a number two seed in the MAC tournament. That means that by NCAA tournament time, BG would have at least 26 or 27 wins given its current rate of success in MAC competition. Central Michigan's path to a MAC championship and an NCAA tournament bid depends on it getting a number one seed in the MAC tournament. That is problematic because all of CMU's next four games are against the MAC opponents that have been toughest on the Chippewas.
Bowling Green's overtime loss to Central Michigan on January 18, 2014 was due in large part to being unable to run with the Chippewas during the last three minutes of regulation. The Falcons were gassed at the 3:00 mark and coughed up a ten point advantage. Jennifer Roos will not let the same thing happen to her team on Wednesday night, particularly with a MAC tournament number one seed and an NCAA tournament bid in the balance.
Wednesday night is Pack the House Night at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio. Tipoff is at 7:00 pm EST. The game may be heard on 88.1-FM WBGU in Bowling Green and on 91.5-FM WMHW in Mount Pleasant.