Senior center Liz Honegger.
BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green State University's 19-point win over Temple last Friday gave the Falcons confidence in games against marquee opponents.
It also raised the opinions of coaches around the country.
BGSU, 4-1, is ranked No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today top 25 coaches' poll released yesterday. Continuing the toughest non-conference schedule in their history, the Falcons host Oakland tonight at 7 at Anderson Arena.
The Falcons have three losses this calendar year: to Kentucky in overtime last January, UCLA in the NCAA Tournament and Notre Dame in overtime in the second game of this season. After all the close calls, beating Temple, which won the Atlantic 10 Championship last season, showed BGSU can pull off the big win.
"Temple has had a lot of success in the past couple years, they were a six seed in the NCAA Tournament last year," senior center Liz Honegger said. "It was great to get a good win against them and people really stepped up."
So far the tough nonconference schedule, with games still against Duke and Indiana, has paid off in the Falcons' favor.
"We wanted to challenge this team and they bought into it," BGSU coach Curt Miller said. "It was a huge disappointment, the loss at Notre Dame. We threw a lot of knockout punches and didn't come away with a win.
"To come back and beat a quality Temple team was a huge lift for us. I think we could finally put to bed that we couldn't get that win against Notre Dame.
We have confidence that we can compete with a top 40 team in the country."
Oakland (2-3) also played in the NCAA Tournament last season, despite a 15-16 record, after winning the Mid-Continent Conference tournament. Three starters return from that squad, which beat Eastern Michigan on the road earlier this season.
"They're undersized but they play motion as well as anyone," Miller said.
"We'll have to chase them around for 40 minutes."
The Falcons are shooting 51 percent from the floor, and 44 percent from 3-point range. So Miller has been emphasizing defense in practice the past two days.
He doesn't feel BGSU's defense is playing at the level it was at the end of last season and wants to get back to that against Oakland.
"We're going to have to try to play good team defense and try to keep them in front of us," Honegger said. "It's important for us to be able to get stops and buckle down. If our shooting isn't going well, we're going to have to rely on our defense at some point to help us win games."
- Maureen Fulton