It's not always pretty, but in 2014, the Bowling Green Falcons are accustomed to finding ways to win games. Far more often than not, they do, and so it was on Sunday afternoon as the Falcons downed the Toledo Rockets 66-59 at Savage Arena in Toledo, Ohio.
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|Bowling Green Falcons||20
The first half was a nightmare for the two offenses, dominated first by turnovers and then by lousy shooting. In the game's first 10:30, the teams combined to shoot 39% (9-of-32) but each committed seven turnovers. Despite three lead changes, the bumbling play held down the score, and Toledo led just 12-11.
Offense just got more offensive during the final 9:30 of the half. Both teams did a much better job of taking care of the ball and combined for just one turnover (by Toledo), but shooting dropped off a cliff. Toledo was just 4-of-17 and Bowling Green only 2-of-15 during that time frame. The combined six makes in 32 attempts represented a tiny 18% success rate. Fortunately, BGSU made four free throw attempts to help bulk the halftime score up to 21-20 in favor of Toledo.
Overall, the Falcons and Rockets shot 27 percent (15-of-55) from the floor and 12 percent (3-of-25) from behind the arc in the first half. At least the game was close. Toledo's lead at 7-2 was the only time in the half when either team led by more than three points, and there were three ties and seven lead changes.
The offenses played much better in the second half, as there were only nine combined turnovers and both teams made well over 40 percent of their shots. However, what was lost in turnovers and poor shooting was made up in very physical play that led to a large number of fouls. Toledo committed 16, with four players racking up at least three fouls just in the second half. Bowling Green players were called for 13 fouls, and Miriam Justinger fouled out with all five fouls coming after halftime. The fouls led to a total of 41 free throw attempts in the final 20 minutes.
The Falcons took the lead back ten seconds into the second half and kept it through the midpoint of the period. They built their advantage to as much as six, but after an Alexis Rogers three with 14:00 left, BGSU went without a field goal for nearly five minutes. The Rockets took the lead back at 36-35 with 9:29 on the clock thanks to a Janelle Reed-Lewis jumper, and they still held a 42-40 edge with 6:54 remaining.
The final seven minutes was a constant march to the free throw line for Bowling Green. The Falcons took 22 free throws and made 17 in the second half. Twenty of the attempts and 16 of the makes were in those final seven minutes. They made two 3-pointers and two other field goals during that time, and the latter two were both punctuated by "and-one" free throws.
Despite giving up the lead on a Deborah Hoekstra three, the Rockets were able to stay close for a while. However, a foul by Inma Zanoguera on a Jillian Halfhill layup with 2:34 left gave BGSU the opportunity to push their lead to five (55-50). Ana Capotosto missed a three on the next possession, and when Erica Donovan hit two more free throws after a Capotosto foul, BGSU had firm control of the game. They were able to boost the lead to as much as ten before settling for the 66-59 win.
Bowling Green made 18 field goals, and half of those were from behind the arc. After going 2-of-15 in the first half, the Falcons were 7-of-11 from long range after halftime. Meanwhile, Toledo was better overall from the floor (20-of-54), but they made only one of their 15 attempted 3-pointers. BGSU also had a slight edge (21-of-26 to 18-of-25) in free throws. The rebounding battle was relatively even, with the Falcons winning 39-36 overall and 9-8 on the offensive end. However, Bowling Green doubled up Toledo in second-chance points, 12-6.
Alexis Rogers led BGSU with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Hoekstra played 25 minutes off the bench and added 12 points and six rebounds. Halfhill made just one of nine field goals, but she was a perfect 9-of-9 at the free throw line and scored 11 points. Zanoguera and Andola Dortch led Toledo with 13 points and five rebounds each. Dortch also dished out six assists. Brianna Jones scored 12 and pulled down seven rebounds in 34 bench minutes.
BGSU is now 18-3 overall and 8-1 in Mid-American Conference play, while Toledo drops to 9-11 overall and 4-5 in the MAC. The Falcons host Western Michigan on Wednesday and Miami next weekend, while Toledo plays at Miami on Wednesday before traveling to Kent State for a weekend game.
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