If it's a defensive clinic you want, then Bowling Green is your team. The Falcons locked down the inside and forced 21 turnovers in a 58-39 road victory over the Kent State Golden Flashes on Thursday night.
Bowling Green has now won 20 of the last 21 meetings against Kent State, and recently, the Flashes can't generate any offense in the series. This is the third time in four games that BGSU has held KSU to under 40 points, and the Flashes have not surpassed 50 in any of the last five meetings. In fact, in the last 200 minutes of basketball between these two, Bowling Green has allowed a total of 198 points.
Of course, it's not just Kent State. The Falcons' defense is just that good. BGSU leads the MAC with by allowing just 55.1 points per game, and that's 9.3 points per game better than the next-best team (Northern Illinois, 64.4). No other team is within 11 points. BGSU has allowed 60 or more points in just three of their 14 games and 70 or more just once. They haven't allowed as many as 75 points in any games this season. Half of their opponents (including both Michigan and Ohio State) have been held to 52 points or fewer.
Last night in Kent, it was a perfect storm, as the Flashes came into the game ranked dead last in the MAC with less than 60 points scored per game.
|(Click link for boxscore)
Bowling Green took an early 5-0 lead after buckets by Jillian Halfhill and Erica Donovan, as well as a free throw from Alexis Rogers. Kent State did not score their first points until 6:35 had elapsed, when Chaylene Harper finally connected on a jumper. That sparked the Flashes on a mini-run of 7-2, and they briefly tied the game at 7 after a three-pointer by Larissa Lurken. However, KSU was able to sink just three field goals during the final 11:14 of the first half, after Lurken's triple. Bowling Green was also struggling quite a bit on offense, but they conjured up enough to take a 20-13 lead into halftime.
The Falcons' lead escalated quickly in the second half. Kent State scored four of the first six points in the half, and the score was 22-17 with 17:53 left in the game. BGSU proceeded to go on a 15-0 run over the next 4:20 and took an insurmountable 37-17 lead with 13:33 to go. Halfhill keyed the run with back-to-back three-pointers, while Jill Stein added two buckets and Deborah Hoekstra knocked down a three. Kent State never threatened again, as the closest they could get would be 14 points. The Falcons cruised to the 58-39 final score.
The difference in this contest came in the paint, where the Falcons dominated. BGSU held a 39-30 rebounding advantage, and they outscored Kent State both 16-6 in the paint and 14-3 in second-chance points. However, the most telling statistic was free throw shooting. Bowling Green shot 20 free throws and made 18, while Kent State attempted just four (and made just one). If the inside dominance wasn't enough, BGSU forced 21 turnovers and led 16-7 in points off turnovers.
Neither team shot particularly well during the game. Kent State was held to 32.7 percent overall and made just six shots (out of 19) in the first half. Bowling Green was just 7-for-26 (26.9%) in the first half and shot 36% for the game, but they improved to 45.8% in the second half.
Halfhill led the Falcons in scoring with 15 points. Jill Stein added a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. One positive for Kent State was their ability slow down Alexis Rogers. The Flashes held the current MAC Player of the Week to just seven points and six rebounds. She was only 1-for-6 in field goal attempts. No Kent State player scored in double figures. The Flashes were led by Larissa Lurken and Amber Dunlap, who each scored nine.
Bowling Green is now 12-2 overall and 2-0 in MAC play. Their next game is at home on Sunday (Jan. 12) at 2:00 p.m. against the Akron Zips. The matchup is a key early-season battle between the two preseason division favorites.
Kent State drops to 3-10 overall and 0-2 in the MAC thanks to this loss. They return to action on Sunday at 2;00 p.m. on the road against the Ball State Cardinals.
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