BOWLING GREEN - In a game that lived up to its billing, Eastern Michigan kept Bowling Green at arm's length, survived a last-second shot and walked off with a pivotal Mid-American Conferece women's basketball victory last night at Anderson Arena.
The Falcons trailed by single digits most of the game and just could not grab the lead during a classic battle played before a boisterous crowd of 1,055. Bowling Green was down by three when Ali Mann's 3-point attempt bounced off the rim at the buzzer as the Eagles escaped with a 51-48 victory.
"That was a great game," said BG coach Curt Miller. "We got the game that it was billed to be. The crowd was fantastic tonight. I felt like if we could just get a lead one time we could get the crowd really going and put the pressure on them. It was almost deflating that we couldn't get over the hump. It felt like a tournament game."
The last time these two teams met was in a tournament game when Eastern Michigan knocked off the Falcons in the MAC championship game last year. The loss last night was Bowling Green's first league loss and snapped a six-game winning streak.
The Falcons (9-5 overall, 2-1 MAC) tied the game with less than 11 minutes to go and then pulled even with six consecutive free throws to knot the score at 46 with 2:55 remaining. Eastern Michigan (12-2, 2-1) then scored five unanswered points capped by Ryan Coleman's 3-pointer to take a 51-46 lead with just over a minute left.
But BG sophomore Ali Mann scored in the paint to bring BG back within three points with 39 seconds remaining. After beating a full-court press, the Eagles ran the shot clock down but Coleman missed a jumper and Liz Honegger corralled the rebound for BG with 10 seconds left.
The Falcons quickly brought the ball up court and found Mann in the corner for a potential game-tying 3-pointer, but Mann's shot at the buzzer clanked off the rim.
"We had plenty of chances to take the lead but our shots just weren't falling," said Mann, who finished with nine points and nine rebounds.
In fact Mann and Honegger, the Falcons' top scorers, were held without a point in the first half. BG's third-leading scorer, Carin Horne, did not get on the board until hitting a jumper with 1:36 left in the first half. Horne tallied nine points. Honegger had just four after coming into the game averaging 15.4 per game.
"We were very frustrated that we could not get shots for them," Miller said. "Eastern Michigan defenses you so well. They're very athletic and very physical."
Freshman Kate Achter, a Clay gradute, single-handedly kept BG in the contest in the first half as she matched her average per game with nine points. The 5-8 guard scored seven of the Falcons' first 11 points and hit a basket near the buzzer to pull BG within six points.
"They basically said if your freshman point guard is good enough to beat us, we're going to give a lot of shots to her," Miller said. "I'm proud of Kate. I thought she played really well."
Achter scored a team-high 13 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
"Once they started to shut down our offense, I felt we needed to score some way," Achter said. "I thought I had to at least create something for us, throw it up there and see if we could get some rebounds."
The Eagles outrebounded the Falcons 44-33, including 14 offensive boards. Bowling Green shot just 30.6 percent from the field (9 of 24). Miller said he was particularly disappointed that Eastern outscored his team 38-20 in the paint.
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OWENS 87, LAKELAND 82
Owens went to the foul line to knock off the nation's No. 12 team in overtime.
The Express (11-6) made 37 of 47 foul shots to Lakeland's 13 of 22 as Niccole Brown hit 15 of 16 and Katie McClure 11 of 12.
McClure finished with 23 points and her 3-pointer forced overtime. Brown finished with 25 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. Misti Horton tallied 15 and Heather Peer 10.
Lakeland (13-2) got 18 points from Theresa Petruziello.