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Published: Thursday, 3/10/2005

Friendship of coaches put to test

BY MATT MARKEY AND JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITERS

CLEVELAND - Both Bowling Green coach Curt Miller and Miami coach Maria Fantanarosa consider themselves close friends.

But that friendship was tested for a moment during the Mid-American Conference tournament quarterfinal battle between the two schools.

The physical contest briefly took an ugly turn with 3:48 to play when BG's Kate Achter, fighting through a flare screen, caught Miami's Nicki Motto with a fist to the face.

During the media timeout that followed, an animated Fantanarosa was screaming towards the Bowling Green bench. She didn't join her team's huddle until the timeout was almost over.

After the game both coaches said the incident already was forgotten.

"Kate's foul certainly wasn't intentional, but in the heat of the battle I would assume Maria thought we fought through that screen [too aggressively]," Miller said.

Fantanarosa said the intent of her dynamic demonstration was simple.

"It was a physical game, and I didn't want it to become a dirty game," she said. "It was an aggressive play, but I don't think Kate is a dirty player."

After the game, Fantanarosa joked that her biggest concern was finding a replacement for Motto, her point guard.

"I was going to play point," Fantanarosa said. "I didn't want to go in - I wanted her out there."

YOUTH SERVED: When top-seeded Bowling Green trotted out its starting lineup yesterday for its MAC tournament quarterfinal game against Miami, the youthful exuberance was obvious. The Falcons showed the youngest group of starters in the tournament - a freshman, three sophomores and a junior. That group is the core responsible for BG's 21-7 record, and its NCAA tournament aspirations. "They have so much confidence, without being cocky," Falcons' head coach Curt Miller said. "One of my philosophies is you have to let kids make mistakes. I think they got some confidence because we've let them use their talents and play." Sophomores Ali Mann, Liz Honegger and Carin Horne are joined by junior Casey McDowell and freshman Kate Achter in the BG starting five. "Those three sophomores are as confident as anyone I've coached, and Kate came in with a tenacity and a makeup that not many freshmen have," Miller said. "They've never looked over their shoulders, and they knew we were going to sink or swim with them. We do it without a superstar"

MARKWOOD: Perrysburg High School graduate Laura Markwood, the younger sister of former UT standout Jennifer Markwood, completed her freshman season at Miami with yesterday's MAC tournament loss to the Rockets. Markwood hit 3-of-4 shots from the field for six points and had three rebounds against UT in a backup role for the RedHawks.

Markwood broke the Miami record for offensive rebounds by a freshman this season with 85, and was the leading scorer in the middle for the RedHawks at 6.5 ppg. She had 20 blocked shots and 41 steals this season.



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