BOWLING GREEN - The Bowling Green State University women's basketball team wasn't just confronting its top Mid-American Conference rival when it welcomed the University of Toledo to Anderson Arena yesterday.
The Falcons were also staring at an opportunity to build upon the team's best start in MAC play since the 1997-98 season when they won their first five league contests and ended up with a 15-3 conference record.
The Falcons, orchestrating perhaps their best defensive effort of the season, ended a four-game losing streak to the Rockets by posting a 63-58 win before an announced crowd of 1,006.
BG (8-7, 4-0 MAC) held UT to its second-lowest scoring output of the season. No. 3-ranked Duke beat UT 71-41.
“We were 3-0 in the MAC, but this is the one game I couldn't wait for to see if we were for real,” BG coach Dee Knoblauch said. “We feel Toledo is going to be right up there.”
Knoblauch, in her third season in charge of the Falcons, collected her first win over UT en route to the team's best start in MAC play since she returned to her alma mater to coach. It's arguably the Falcons' most pleasing win during Knoblauch's tenure. The Falcons are 32-38 overall since she arrived in 1998.
“It was a quality win over a quality opponent and we just haven't had many of those,” Knoblauch said.
The Falcons showed just how huge a win it was for them by rushing out onto the court as soon as the final second ticked off the game clock.
“This is a great team win,” said Falcons reserve Kim Griech, who came off the bench to score a game-high 16 points in 20 minutes. “This just shows us we can compete with anyone in the MAC.”
Angie Farmer also came off the bench and scored 15 points in 18 minutes.
Farmer, who was 4-for-5 from behind the 3-point line, believes the Falcons' high intensity level throughout the game factored into the win.
“This is the greatest rivalry in the MAC,” Farmer said. “You've got to show some emotion.”
The Rockets (9-5, 2-1 MAC) struggled to find their offense against a defense that thrived on pressuring ball-handlers and challenging any shots near the basket.
They never really found their shooting touch the entire game, making only 20 of 55 shots (36 percent). They were only 2-for-16 (12.5 percent) from 3-point range.
UT's Kahli Carter, who played much of the second half with four fouls, finished with a team-high 15 points on a 5-for-15 shooting effort, including an 0-for-5 showing from 3-point territory.
Melantha Herron and Tia Davis added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
“I think Bowling Green played a great game,” UT coach Mark Ehlen said. “I thought every time we made a run they came through with a big shot.”
Nevertheless, the Rockets blame themselves for not getting the job done on the offensive end.
“A lot of times we were just looking around and didn't run our offense,” said UT's Courtney Risinger, who scored five points after 2-for-8 shooting. “The bottom line is execution.”
And Carter agreed.
“When we were on offense we were just standing or rushing ourselves,” she said.
Griech and Farmer were responsible for knocking down most of the Falcons' big baskets in the second half, combining for 19 points after halftime. For the game, they were a combined 11-of-15 from the field, including 7-of-9 on 3-pointers.
“I thought Kim and Angie had a great game,” Knoblauch said. “I thought those two were outstanding.”
Afra Smith and Francine Miller added 10 apiece for BG, which leads the series 28-22, including 15-7 at Anderson Arena.
UT plays host to Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Bowling Green plays Jan. 22 at Kent.