CLEVELAND - It could have been a dagger. Instead it was only a bump in the road, and a relatively mild one at that.
Bowling Green's Kate Achter was called for stepping on the sideline with 1.1 seconds to play in the first half and the Falcons clinging to a 34-32 lead. In the blink of an eye Eastern Michigan's Sarah VanMetre caught an inbounds pass and flung a 30-foot prayer that was answered, the shot swishing just as the halftime horn sounded.
Instead of going into the break with a lead, BG trailed by one.
But instead of it being a problem, the Falcons used that play as motivation, outscoring Eastern Michigan 43-22 in the second half. That allowed the Falcons to snap a five-game losing streak to the Eagles with a convincing 77-57 win in the semifinals of the MAC tournament yesterday.
Achter seemed especially motivated by the shot. The freshman from Clay High School scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half and added four rebounds and three assists in the period.
"I knew it was kind of my fault because I had dribbled the ball out of bounds," Achter said. "I think it motivated us at halftime to play better defense."
BG coach Curt Miller said the shot was the only blemish on a solid first-half performance by his team.
"We got to halftime accomplishing a lot of our goals," he said. "They only had 10 points in the paint at halftime, we didn't put them on the foul line a lot, we didn't have anyone with three fouls, and we had Erika Ford in foul trouble. Despite the one-point deficit, a lot was in our favor at halftime."
ODDS AND ENDS: Bowling Green will play in the championship game for the second straight season and the eighth time since the tournament began in 1981. The Falcons are 6-1 in MAC championship games, with the lone loss coming last season (65-56 to Eastern Michigan). .●.●. The Falcons have won five in a row, 10 of their last 11 and 19 of their last 22. .●.●. BG's Carin Horne had a career-high seven steals yesterday. That total ties her with eight other players with the second-most in tournament history. .●.●. The Falcons have made 36 of 40 free-throw attempts in the tournament. .●.●. With yesterday's wins by Bowling Green and Kent State, the higher seed has won all 11 games in this year's women's tournament.
- John Wagner