CLEVELAND - Following their meeting on Jan. 13, the Bowling Green State University and University of Toledo women's basketball teams headed down two distinctly different roads.
After losing to the Falcons 63-58 at Anderson Arena, the Rockets have won their last 13 games, and the Mid-American Conference championship. After defeating their rivals, the Falcons have won just three of their last 13 games.
Those widely divergent paths will cross this afternoon at Gund Arena as the top-seeded Rockets (22-5, 15-1 MAC) take on the No. 9 seeded Falcons (11-17, 6-10) in the opening game of the quarterfinals of the MAC Tournament.
“The first time we played them, we couldn't make a shot and they made everything,” UT senior Kahli Carter said. “I can't wait to play them. They haven't seen the real Toledo team yet.”
Toledo shot just 36 percent from the field in the game, and was 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) from 3-point range. Carter played a good portion of the game in foul trouble, and was just 5-of-15 from the field.
“Basketball-wise, we seemed to just be determined not to lose in that game,” Bowling Green coach Dee Knoblauch said. “We wanted to be aggressive and try to get Kahli Carter in foul trouble, and shoot well. I'd like to have bottled up the essence of that game and saved it for the tournament.”
Knoblauch said the Falcons hope to stay in an aggressive mode and bring their best shooting touch when they face the MAC champs.
“We know we'll have to play well and stick to our game plan against Toledo. They have some of the best players in the league, and I have a lot of respect for Mark Ehlen as a coach,” Knoblauch said.
UT's Ehlen voiced concern over BG's ability to inflict damage from the outside, especially if junior Francine Miller and senior Angie Farmer connect.
“They're a real good perimeter-shooting team, and Farmer and Miller, if they get hot, they can kill you,” Ehlen said. “The last time they just outplayed us, and that was a wakeup call for us. We've done things differently after that, offensively and defensively, and since then we've been a really, really consistent team.”
The Rockets inserted freshman Mary Blessing at point guard after the defeat at BG, and have not lost since. Toledo is in pursuit of a record seventh MAC Tournament championship.
BG had to win on the road at Western Michigan in a first-round MAC Tournament game on Saturday to qualify for the second meeting with UT, but Knoblauch does not want her team to be satisfied by getting to Cleveland.
“We've been talking about how much frustration we went through this season, and how a positive end could help erase some of that,” Knoblauch said. “Getting to the Gund is not enough - it's just a great opportunity to have a good end to the season. Our frustration could fuel us - fire us up - because we've gone through some major frustration and some major misery this season.”
Toledo's Carter expects the emotions to peak on both sides: “They're always up to play us, and we're always up to play them. I can't wait. There's a revenge factor involved.”