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Published: Thursday, 1/22/2009

BGSU women pour it on against Bulls

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - There is a formula involved when two streaks collide, and the result leaves the rich a bit richer and the poor a bit poorer.

The Bowling Green State University women's team won its 16th straight game last night, while sending Buffalo to its 11th consecutive loss. The 75-52 score was the result of the Falcons keeping the Bulls in a state of distress on almost every venture down the court.

Bowling Green had 20 steals in the game, which tied the Falcons' best-ever in a MAC game. BG also held the Bulls to just 33 percent shooting and forced Buffalo to turn the ball over 24 times. The Falcons got 28 of their points off Buffalo turnovers.

"Defense is what really gets the crowd going," BG junior Tara Breske said. "And it's what creates our offense."

After leading 37-29 at the half, the Falcons limited Buffalo to just seven second-half field goals and 22.6 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes (7-of-31).

"We talked about how important our pressure was in trying to disrupt them," Bowling Green coach Curt Miller said. "I thought we got a lot of deflections, got in the passing lanes and really disrupted what they wanted to do."

Niki McCoy scored in a crowd and then added a free throw to get Bowling Green started offensively in the second half, and then added a driving basket to push BG's lead to 45-29. The margin was 18 points after Tracy Pontius took the ball to the basket following a steal with a little more than 12 minutes left in the game.

Bowling Green got two straight steals that it converted into quick baskets with less than four minutes to play, stretching the lead to 69-46.

Miller said Buffalo's style of trying to force the ball inside, plus the Bulls' use of gambling and sometimes chaotic full-court pressure, kept the game from being a work of art.

"Buffalo works really hard to make you play ugly, and at times, they made us look really ugly," Miller said. "But we had to battle through those peaks and valleys and remain confident. We stayed on task, and I'm pleased."

The Falcons charged out of the gate, and Buffalo was in danger of getting buried early. When Pontius scored on a fast break following a Bulls' turnover, Bowling Green led 15-6 with the game about nine minutes old.

Buffalo (4-14, 0-5) sorted things out momentarily, but the Falcons surged back up by nine as Lauren Prochaska hit a 3-pointer from the wing on an inbounds play and Breske knocked down a jumper from above the foul line.

Buffalo's sloppy ball management continued, and by halftime the Bulls had made 14 turnovers.

Prochaska had 16 points to lead Bowling Green, while Bedford's Breske had 12 points with seven rebounds, and Northview product McCoy added 14 points.

The win gave the Falcons (16-2) a 5-0 record after the first round of Mid-American Conference play. Miller said for the four-time MAC defending regular season champions, that meant more than the long winning streak.

"We're really excited to be 5-0 at this point," Miller said. "It was very important to stay focused, and I'm proud of our consistency."

The win was No. 166 for Miller, who is in his eighth season with the Falcons. That win total ties him with former University of Toledo head coach Bill Fennelly for sixth place on the MAC's all-time list for victories while coaching in the conference.

"He is still a mentor of mine," Miller said of Fennelly, now the head coach at Iowa State. "I believe he is one of the best coaches in the country and anytime I am mentioned in the same breath as Bill Fennelly, it means a lot to me. I just think he is a class act and I hope I can do for Bowling Green basketball what Bill Fennelly once did for Toledo basketball."

Contact Matt Markey at:

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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