BGSU's Ali Mann, left, and Carin Horne stand tall to defend Jamie Wilson of Northern Illinois.
BOWLING GREEN - The Bowling Green State University women's basketball team already has qualified for the second round of the Mid-American Conference tournament.
But last night coach Curt Miller discovered there will be times, however few, when he'll have to remind the Falcons that they have several games to play before heading to Cleveland.
With last night's 66-58 win over Northern Illinois at Anderson Arena and third-place Ohio's loss to Eastern Michigan, the Falcons clinched at least a tie for a first-round bye in next month's MAC Tournament. The top two teams in each division receive a bye and BGSU is six games ahead of Ohio.
The contest was close until the final seconds, something Miller partially attributed to the topic of conversation among his players before the game about BGSU's Saturday opponent, Ball State.
"For the first time in our locker room all year, I heard a little bit of chatter about Ball State, and that's the next game," Miller said. "It concerned me that we were a little flat.
"The one thing that we will remind our kids is that you've got to take one game at a time and I never want to hear chatter about the next opponent before you play your current game."
The Huskies briefly led in the second half and cut the Falcons' lead to four with 1:36 to play. But two late NIU turnovers, including a charge taken by junior Amber Flynn with 45 seconds left, earned the Falcons (19-2, 10-0 MAC) their 16th consecutive win at home, the fifth-longest streak in the country.
The Falcons' 10-game overall win streak is their longest since 1993-94, when BGSU won 20 straight.
Forward Liz Honegger led BGSU with 18 points and Ali Mann and Kate Achter each added 12.
An 11-2 NIU run midway through the second half ensured a close finish. But two 3-pointers by Honegger and two Mann three-point plays kept the Falcons in front.
NIU shot just 30 percent from the floor, but the Huskies (9-12, 5-5) took advantage of a foul-prone BGSU by making 24 of 26 free throws.
Offense was rare on either side in the first half, with the teams combining to miss their first 15 3-pointers, the first long-range make coming by Carin Horne with 18:25 remaining.
Mary Basic led the Huskies with 15 points. Returning from a back injury, NIU star Stephanie Raymond was not in the starting lineup. She played 31 minutes but scored just nine points.
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