Bowling Green defeated Liberty 87-80 in the first round of the NIT on Thursday, thanks to a dominant first quarter. The Falcons jumped out to a 30-10 lead and held on to the advantage for the rest of the contest.
Despite getting out-shot and out-rebounded, the Falcons won the turnover battle by 14 and were able to amass 26 points at the free throw line. All five starters scored in double-digits, with senior guard Elissa Brett leading the way with 27.
Liberty scored the first bucket of the game, but their 2-0 advantage would be their only held lead of the game. After some layups and a pair of Brett three-pointers, Bowling Green quickly found themselves up 14-2. Jocelyn Tate was also big in the quarter tallying eight of her 15 in the frame.
Liberty found some room to work with on offense in the second, sharing the ball on their way to a 20-point quarter.
Still down 15 at the half, Liberty kept faith and continued to battle in the second half. The Flames forced some Bowling Green turnovers and capitalized on the offensive end. Netherlands native Pien Steenbergen hit three triples for Liberty in the third quarter.
Going into the fourth, the Falcons were tasked with slowing down Liberty’s momentum. After another Steenbergen three with 8:50 left in the game, Bowling Green found themselves clinging onto a 65-59 lead. Brett, the Falcons’ leader all night, responded and hit back-to-back layups to gain separation once again. Late in the game, with Liberty in desperation mode, Brett was clutch from the line and closed out the game.
In addition to Brett, standout performers from Bowling Green included Tate who finished with 15 points, four assists and five steals and Allison Day who finished with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Falcons are now set to take the road to play Green Bay in a game scheduled to be played at 8 p.m. Eastern time on March 20, after Green Bay won their game against Niagra shortly after the conclusion of the BGSU/Liberty contest.