BOWLING GREEN - With several players fighting a flu bug, the Bowling Green State University women's basketball team got the perfect remedy last night.
A Mid-American Conference East Division championship.
The Falcons clinched their second consecutive division title with a 62-50 victory over Kent State at Anderson Arena.
"It's great to do it in front of the home fans, and have everyone here to support us," junior Ali Mann said.
BGSU improved to 23-2, 14-0 in the MAC. It's acceptable now to talk about the team's new goal, an undefeated conference season.
"We've got to put this away," Mann said. "At this point, we almost expect to. If we didn't, it'd be a disappointment. It would mean a lot."
Mann led the Falcons with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Liz Honegger also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Honegger was one of five Falcons with cold and flu symptoms, which led to more frequent substitutions. Kate Achter, Megan Thorburn, Casey McDowell and Whitney Taylor were also afflicted.
"I just reminded them to not feel sorry for themselves, they are going to get tired a little quicker," BGSU coach Curt Miller said. "The adversity just brings a close-knit team even more together. They realized it was going to take each and every one of the 12 players to get over the hump tonight."
The game went as has been BGSU's habit of late, a close first half and a second half in which the Falcons pulled away. The Falcons' defensive pressure forced Kent State (17-8, 10-4) into a dismal 33.3 shooting percentage.
"Our defense really locked down and made them work for every shot they could get," Mann said.
Honegger and Mann, often apt to shoot from behind the arc, focused on cutting and driving through the lane in front of the crowd of 1,603.
"When we have good balance, inside-outside action, when we don't settle for 3s, we're a very dangerous team," Miller said.
BGSU is 41-0 in the past two seasons when leading with 10 minutes to play. Carin Horne's 3-pointer with 9:29 left put the Falcons up by seven points, and the Flashes never again got closer than that margin.
The Falcons put the game away with 5:53 remaining when Mann grabbed an offensive rebound, made a putback and was fouled by Shearer. She made the free throw, one of nine on the night for her, to put BGSU up by 12.
It was the final regular-season home game for the Falcons, with seniors McDowell and Jill Lause honored before the game. BGSU's final two games are Saturday at Ohio and Tuesday at Miami. In trying to match what two other Falcon teams have done, they expect some of their toughest tests.
"I think that's what you're going to see down the stretch, that each and every possession is important to the outcome of the game," Miller said.
Contact Maureen Fulton at:
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