BOWLING GREEN - Over the past month, the Bowling Green State University women's basketball team has played its share of emotion-packed games.
The pressure started with a difficult schedule to finish the regular-season, with the stakes raised by the Falcons' pursuit of the Mid-American Conference's West Division title and the league's overall best record.
Games against highly regarded Eastern Michigan and Marshall were followed by a nip-and-tuck senior day contest against Toledo. The season-ending game against Northern Illinois was for the MAC title, and that contest was followed by three pressure-packed MAC tournament games.
So the question remains: Will BG be able to find some more emotion for its first NCAA tournament contest since 1994? Or is the Falcons' tank dry?
Sophomore Liz Honegger admitted the past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster for her team.
"After we played Toledo at home, the emotion and energy were way up there," she said. "Beating Eastern Michigan [in the tournament] was awesome because we had lost to them so many times, but we had to move on to the next day.
"Then we beat Kent State, who we hadn't beaten in so long, and it was exciting to beat them. But we have to move on to the next day and the next game."
The "next day" is tomorrow, and the "next game" is against Kansas State, currently ranked 17th in the country in both national polls. When you add that to the atmosphere of the NCAA Tournament, sophomore Ali Mann said getting revved up for the games won't be a problem.
"I don't think emotion is going to be a factor," she said. "We're going to have all the emotion in the world because it's going to be an exciting environment. The emotion is going to take care of itself."
For the Falcons, the tournament's 13th seed, it will take more than just positive emotion to upset the fourth-seeded Wildcats. BG also will need everyone on the roster to be productive if it wishes to claim the MAC's first tournament victory since 1996.
Fortunately, Bowling Green has been getting production from a number of different players on its current string of six straight wins and nine victories in its last 10 contests.
The Falcons have four players, all starters, averaging 11 pointsor more per game - sophomores Honegger (14.5), Mann (13.9) and Carin Horne (11.5) as well as freshman Kate Achter (11.0).
Fifth starter Casey McDowell averages 6.8 points per game, but she more than quadrupled that mark with her career-high 31 points in the MAC tournament quarterfinal win over Miami.
Off the bench, seniors Kelly Kapferer and Tene Lewis have been providing a spark. Kapferer scored nine points, including the game-winning three-point play, in the home victory over Toledo, then had eight points against Kent State in the MAC title contest.
Despite averaging just 20 minutes per game, Lewis is among the team's top five in assists (second, 3.0 apg) and steals (third, 1.8 spg) and also ranks fifth on the team in rebounding (3.0 rpg) despite standing just 5-8.
"I think [Bowling Green] is
really very balanced, and I think that's one of the things that has made them very successful," said Kansas State coach Deb Patterson.
K-STATE CONNECTION: There is a connection between the Bowling Green program and Kansas State; more specifically, the connection is between Honegger and Wildcats assistant coach Stephanie White.
"I've known her since second grade," Honegger said of White, who grew up near the sophomore's Lafayette, Ind., home. "She played at Purdue in '99 when they won the national championship, so being in Lafayette I watched her a lot. She played on my dad's AAU team, and she was my assistant coach in high school."
TOURNAMENT HISTORY: Bowling Green has a 1-6 record in NCAA tournament games. The lone win came in a first-round home game against Cincinnati in 1989; the Falcons lost their next game to Maryland and have lost in their three appearances after that.
MAC schools are 5-25 in NCAA tournament play and have not won a tournament game since 1996, when both Toledo and Kent State claimed first-round victories.
ACADEMIC ALL-MAC: Mann was one of 11 players named to the academic All-MAC women's basketball team.
To qualify for the team, a player must have at least a 3.20 cum-
ulative GPA and participate in at least half of the team's games. Mann, a sophomore from Chelsea, Mich., has a 3.31 GPA while majoring in physical education and teacher education.
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