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Published: Sunday, 1/18/2004

BG women s late defense does it

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green women s basketball coach Curt Miller said he was sure his team would make some defensive stops against Central Michigan yesterday.

But he still may want to check for gray hairs after his team s 68-60 win over the Chippewas at Anderson Arena.

I just felt confident at some point in the game we would get enough stops that we would win, Miller said. “I just didn t expect they would come in the last six minutes.

But better late than never, right? And late in the contest the Falcon defense was extremely effective, allowing the Chippewas to score just six points. What s more, BG held Central Michigan without a point in all but three of its final 13 possessions in the game.

That allowed the Falcons to come back from an 11-point second-half deficit and claim the victory, their third in four MAC contests this season and 10th overall against five losses.

“That s a little unnerving - I would have loved for [those stops] to come at a different time in the game, Miller admitted. “But when we needed to make stops, [we did it].

The Falcons fell behind because of a poor shooting day from the field. After making 7 of 10 to build a 17-9 lead in the first 11 minutes, BG made just three of its final 20 in that half and trailed 29-28.

Things got worse for the Falcons when Central Michigan scored seven unanswered points - the last two coming on free throws following a technical on Miller - to lead 47-36 with 13:03 left.

But senior Lindsay Austin and freshman Ali Mann combined to score 12 points over the next three minutes to cut the Chippewas lead to a single point at 49-48. Central scored the next five points to expand the lead to 54-48 with 7:57 to play, but the Falcons outscored CMU 20-6 the rest of the way to earn their third straight victory and sixth in the last seven contests.

Both Austin and Mann thought the key to the late run was defense, not offense.

“We just decided the best way to win the game was through defense, Austin said. “It was about making stop after stop whenever we could at the end of the game.

The BG defense blocked five shots in the second half, including blocks on three straight possessions at the start of the Falcons late surge.

“Those were big momentum swings that got the crowd involved, said Mann, who had one of the blocks; Megan Thorburn had the other two. “[Blocked shots] create tempo and let us push the ball up the court and get some big shots that we needed at the end of the game.

Mann finished with a career-high 24 points, while Austin and fellow senior Stefanie Wenzel added 14 apiece.

Freshman Ann Skufca was the only player to finish in double figures for Central (4-11, 0-4), tripling her career high with 19.

NOTE: Bowling Green made 22 of 23 free throws yesterday, tying the record for free throw percentage when taking more than 12 foul shots.



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