BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green State University has big dreams.
But first things first.
The No. 18 Falcons clinched a first-round bye for next month's Mid-American Conference tournament last night with their dominating win over Akron, a 91-46 victory at Anderson Arena.
BGSU's offense put together another first-rate night. It was the third straight game the Falcons scored 85 or more points. They shot 53 percent and turned the ball over a season-low seven times.
"We were efficient again the entire 40 minutes," BGSU coach Curt Miller said. "I was really pleased with our execution offensively, [and] how efficient offensively we've been over the last week and a half, two weeks."
Improving to 23-2, 12-0 in the MAC, the Falcons have a three-game lead over Kent State in the East with four games to play.
Miller recognizes BGSU's overwhelming success in the MAC and chances to make some noise in the NCAA tournament. But he said the players know a bad RPI loss could hurt their tourney seed and that's one thing that keeps them focused.
"They want to be playing their best basketball come tournament time," Miller said. "As much as I've preached it all year, that's when we need to be playing our best basketball, to be going into the conference tournament playing well."
Despite BGSU having canceled classes yesterday, a crowd of 1,443 was in attendance to see the Falcons extend their nation-best home winning streak to 29 games.
Megan Thorburn led BGSU with 14 points and Kate Achter added 12 points and seven assists.
Senior Ali Mann, a leading candidate for MAC player of the year, was a game-time decision to play because she has been sick with bronchitis. She started and had seven points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes.
"This is the first time I've been out of bed for more than three hours at a time," Mann said. "But I'm going to be here for my team, night in and night out, no matter what it takes."
BGSU started the game on a 13-0 run. Akron (9-15, 2-10) got it to 15-8, but the Falcons were rarely missing on offense and soon built a large lead, going up by 21 at halftime.
The Zips could never get in an offensive rhythm, shooting 36 percent.
Northview's Niki McCoy and Riana Miller were the Zips' two leading scorers.
Miller had 12 points in the first half but was scoreless after halftime, taking just one shot. McCoy finished with nine points and six rebounds.
"BG is ranked for a reason," McCoy said. "They don't run very many [plays], but the things they do run, they run extremely well."
Everybody scored at least five points for BGSU, and six players scored at least nine points. None of the starters played more than 24 minutes.
"They're so well balanced," Akron coach Jodi Kest said. "They don't care who scores. They'll have a good shot, and they'll make an extra pass to get a better shot."
NOTES: Freshmen Tara Breske and Laura Bugher, who hadn't attempted a 3-pointer all year coming in, each made one. Breske had a career-high nine points. Mann's streak of 31 consecutive games scoring in double figures came to an end. The Falcons travel to Buffalo on Saturday.
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