BOWLING GREEN - To the casual observer, tonight's Mid-American Conference women's game between Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan may appear to be just another game on the schedule.
For the Falcons though, there's much more at stake at 7 p.m. at Anderson Arena.
On the line is BG's 2-0 MAC record, as well as a six-game winning streak that has produced a 9-4 record. The Eagles (11-2, 1-1) are the defending league champions after beating BG 65-56 in the MAC title game last March.
EMU has four starters returning from last season's 22-8 team, and has added sisters Ryann and Kristen Kilgore, both of whom transferred from Big East schools.
"Any of their top seven players could start for any team in the MAC," BG coach Curt Miller said. "Not only are they very talented but they're big, they're athletic, and they're very deep. Their depth separates them from everyone else in the MAC.
"In my opinion, on paper this is one of the best MAC teams ever assembled."
In the MAC statistics the Eagles trail only BG in scoring, averaging 69.4 points, and lead the league by allowing just 52.8. EMU's balanced offense is led by guard Ryan Coleman (16.0 points) forward Nikki Knapp (10.8).
Bowling Green will counter with balanced scoring, as well, thanks to a trio of double-digit scorers in sophomores Liz Honegger (15.4), Ali Mann (12.5) and Carin Horne (11.2). They are three of the six Falcons averaging six points or more this year.
Miller said the team's recent winning streak began once the players became comfortable with their on-court responsibilities.
"Despite the fact that we had a lot of returning firepower, everyone took on new roles [this year]," Miller said. "Ali Mann became the go-to player and got the other team's best player every night. Liz stepped up to be a big-time player. I think we're more comfortable with our roles than we were a month ago."
As a result the Falcons have posted good numbers in every category except one: home attendance. In two games this season BG has attracted an average of 558 fans to Anderson Arena, something Miller hopes will start to turn around tonight.
"I don't think our team thinks about [attendance] much, but it's part of my job responsibility to help energize the community, and I feel as if I've failed because as much as you felt a buzz about our program around the community before the season, that hasn't correlated to people in the stands."
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