BOWLING GREEN - Liz Honegger and Ali Mann were both named to the All-Mid-American Conference preseason team.
Without the other, Honegger and Mann contend, neither would have received the honor.
The junior teammates for the Bowling Green State University women's basketball team, two of five returning starters, are the leading scorers back as the defending MAC champion Falcons open their season tonight by hosting IPFW at 7.
In the Falcons' 23-8 season last year, Honegger led BGSU with 14.5 points and eight rebounds per game and Mann had nearly the same averages - 13.7 and 7.4. They are the post players for the Falcons, but each has outside shooting ability. Honegger led the Falcons with 59 3-pointers last season.
"Our games complement each other," Mann said. "If she's inside, she knows she can count on me to be outside shooting, or if I'm inside I know that if a double [team] comes, I can always kick it out to her. There's not really a weakness. It's a perfect combination."
The 5-foot-11 Honegger from Lafayette, Ind., and Mann, 6-1 from Chelsea, Mich., have been full-time starters since they came to BGSU. Last season, they were named the team's co-players of the year.
"I'm really anxious to see how good they can become in their last two years," BGSU coach Curt Miller said.
They are joined in the starting lineup by junior Carin Horne, a 6-1 second-team All-MAC player at small forward, 5-8 sophomore point guard Kate Achter out of Clay and Casey McDowell, a 5-7 senior shooting guard. Horne and Achter also averaged double figures in points.
Four freshmen joined the team this season, and guard Jasmine McCall and post Jessica McKenzie should get decent playing time. Junior wing Megan Thorburn could be a big contributor off the bench.
"Sometimes individually our players haven't gotten the recognition that I've thought they deserved because of our balance," Miller said. "The balance also benefits Ali and Liz, that one doesn't have to shoulder the load."
Mann is a co-captain along with McDowell and senior post Jill Lause. Honegger said Mann's consistency is one of her most impressive attributes.
"For me, Ali's our go-to player," Honegger said. "She can finish, and she just works so hard. A lot of times you wouldn't think she would be capable of finishing some of the shots she finishes, and getting to the line and stuff.
"It's an awesome feeling to have a teammate like that that I can really depend on and really feed off of."
The Falcons will be trying to uphold the winning tradition of the past two years. With two consecutive 20-win seasons, every returnee except Lause has only been on winning teams for the Falcons. That's an important factor, Miller said.
"In this program currently, comparing to when we inherited the program, we know nothing about losing," Miller said. "When we got here we knew nothing about winning. The mentality and the attitude certainly changes."
Before the start of tonight's game the Falcons will unveil their 2005 MAC championship banner in Anderson Arena.
After tonight the Falcons have two more non-conference home games, against St. Francis on Monday and Duquesne on Dec. 6. They are also playing in two tournaments, next week at Indiana University and at the end of December at St. Joseph's.
BGSU begins its MAC title defense on Jan. 7 when it hosts Akron.
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