BOWLING GREEN - They are still the three-time defending Mid-American Conference champions, but Bowling Green State University has now added a nonglamorous three-time label to its portfolio.
The Falcons have lost three straight MAC games.
The latest setback came last night at Anderson Arena in a 79-73 loss to a surging Western Michigan team. BG, which dominated its first four MAC opponents, is showing a side that was promised all along but didn't seem inevitable until now. The youthful Falcons (15-6, 4-3) are trying to keep this slump in perspective.
"Our 15-3 start was clearly ahead of schedule and was clearly overachieving," coach Curt Miller said. "We have to find a way over the last [nine] games to continue to overachieve. If we would have started out 0-3 [in the MAC] nothing would have been written about it. We knew it was going to be like this."
Not since around this time of the 2002-03 season has BG dropped three consecutive league games.
"We need a win," Jen Uhl said. "The last couple games have been hard and none of us are used to losing like this. We need to bounce back and find a way to win."
Last night was not a great opportunity to end the skid. Western (9-12, 6-1) played perhaps its best offensive game of the season in extending its win streak to six. The Broncos, who lead the West, made amends for their 27 turnovers by shooting nearly 66 percent.
"We don't shoot this well in practice," WMU coach Ron Stewart said. "We've shot the ball well at times [from the field], but not like this."
And yet the Falcons were a play or two from winning. Crystal Murdaugh's basket tied the game for the 10th time with 30 seconds remaining before Western's Tiera DeLaHoussaye responded immediately with a layup. BG's Kate Achter then missed the front of a 1-and-1 situation and DeLaHoussaye followed with two free throws to give the Broncos a 77-73 advantage with nine seconds left.
DeLaHoussaye earlier broke a 71-71 tie with a layup at the
1:14 mark. The lightning-fast guard finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, making her 10 turnovers somewhat irrelevant.
"You have to have a plan for her dribble penetration," Miller said. "I thought we did a nice job on her - we forced her to have 10 turnovers - but certainly she won some battles too."
Achter matched DeLaHoussaye's 19 points while adding eight assists. Freshmen Lauren Prochaska, Uhl and Murdaugh scored 14, 14, and 12 points, respectively. Western's Amanda Parker scored all 13 of her points in the second half.
BG held leads four different times in the second half but was never able to increase its advantage by more than two possessions. Much of that can be attributed to Western's powerful offense, which was equally as efficient at the line, making 15 free throws in the final 12 minutes.
"I think that in seasons past we've had the experience and we've been able to buckle down for whatever came at us," Achter said. "This year we're still young and we're learning that, great we scored, but we have to buckle down at the other end. It's coming but it's coming slowly."
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