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Published: Thursday, 12/4/2008

Bowling Green, Pontius get the jump on Detroit

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Maybe in some land far away that only Curt Miller knows about, they print newspapers five feet tall.

Either that, or Miller vastly undervalued the jumping ability of his sophomore point guard Tracy Pontius when last week he told her that her vertical leap wouldn't clear the Sunday edition of the newspaper.

That comment may have stung - until last night.

Pontius made her coach look silly when she soared high into the air last night to swat away a layup attempt by Detroit guard Chanica Hall in the first quarter of Bowling Green State University's 72-42 rout of the Titans.

"She'll probably remind me of that the rest of the year," Miller said.

If Pontius performs like she did last night, she'll be jumping into newspaper headlines. She paced the Falcons (5-2) with 16 points and five assists while adding four steals. On a rather anticlimactic evening, the 1,311 inside Anderson Arena grew the loudest when Pontius turned the ball over at BG's end of the floor and then hustled back on defense and confronted Hall with her left hand to preserve a 23-13 lead.

"I knew I had to do something after turning it over," Pontius said. "Turning it over is not something he likes."

Something Miller does like is the way his team is playing of late. After beginning the year 0-2, BG has crushed its last five opponents with an 18-point victory over UNC-Greensboro being the narrowest. BG, which had not played at home since Nov. 22, will play three more times at Anderson Arena before hitting the road on Dec. 28.

Detroit fell to 2-5 but the Titans might not be typical of a team with that record. They are responsible for Georgia's lone loss this season, and they played well in a 66-59 setback to Cincinnati (5-2) in the season opener.

Detroit was playing its third game in five nights, so Miller emphasized a quick start and a quick start he saw as BG jumped out to a 9-0 lead before coasting into halftime with a 34-18 advantage.

"If [Detroit] would have found a way to keep it close, I think [they would] forget about the fatigue factor and play to the finish line," Miller said. "If you jump on them early, I felt we could potentially make the fatigue factor a big deal."

Niki McCoy and Lindsey Goldsberry followed Pontius with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Chelsea Albert added nine points in just 10 minutes off the bench. Sarah Clapper, who had just eight points all season, nailed back-to-back 3-pointers immediately after coming off the bench early in the second half. Miller acknowledges that Clapper lost some athleticism after suffering ACL tears the last two years, but "she is without question the smartest IQ basketball player we have on the team."

Clapper entered the game after Miller was displeased with Lauren Prochaska for passing up scoring opportunities. Later in the game, ironically, Miller instructed Clapper to enter the game again when Prochaska didn't attempt a 3-pointer. But before there was a stoppage in play, Prochaska had scored five straight points.

"That 20-second flourish allowed her to stay on the floor for a little bit longer," Miller said, cracking a smile.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com.



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