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Published: Friday, 2/20/2009

Prochaska owns consecutive free throw record

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Prochaska Prochaska
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BOWLING GREEN - Upon further and even further review, the record collection of the Bowling Green State University women's basketball team after Sunday's victory over Central Michigan was incomplete when the Falcons left the building.

One record was omitted from their growing compilation of work - and this was a big one, like leaving Sergeant Peppers out of your Beatles albums collection.

University officials initially reported following the game that Bowling Green sophomore Lauren Prochaska had fallen short of the school record for consecutive made free throws when her string ended at 45 in the first half of the 94-79 win.

Turns out a deeper perusal of the school's athletic Dead Sea Scrolls showed that Prochaska, who had not missed a free throw in more than a month, had actually claimed the school record back on Feb. 7 in a 79-77 overtime win at Western Michigan.

The second of her nine made free throws in that game gave Prochaska 31 in a row, and pushed her past the previous mark of 30 straight, set by Sara Puthoff in the 1996-97 season.

"I think it's just the repetition that works for me," Prochaska said about her approach at the line. "I've been shooting the same way and doing the same routine since probably back when I was in third grade. It's just something I'm used to doing. When I go there, I just focus in and do the same thing every time."

Prochaska, who leads the nation in free throw shooting, is 110-of-116 from the line this season, good for 94.8 percent. The single-season free throw percentage record at BG is 95.2 percent, set by Angie Farmer in the 2000-01 season.

"I think experience helps me slow down when I go to the line, and I just try and calm down and take a deep breath and not focus on what is going on around me," she said. "I think when I hear the whistle and know I'm going to the foul line, I'm just on auto-pilot. It's something I've done for so long, it comes easy to me."

The University of Richmond's Ginny Doyle holds the national record at 66 straight (1991-92). Prochaska's string of 45 straight made free throws tied her for the sixth-longest streak in Division I history, according to the NCAA.

Last year when she was honored as the Mid-American Conference's freshman of the year, Prochaska went 104-of-120 from the line, good for 86.7 percent, the third best single-season effort in school history.

"It's a confidence thing with her, number one," BG coach Curt Miller said, "and her mechanics are very compact so she has little that can go wrong. As you watch her, she's got a very simple routine, and a very simple mechanical form. She's an incredible foul shooter, and that's why she's so deadly."

Prochaska now adds the consecutive free throw record to the school's single-game scoring mark that she owns after scoring 43 points on Sunday. That was tied for the fourth highest individual effort in the nation this season and wiped out the previous BG record of 35 points, which had been accomplished four times, most recently by Francine Miller in 2001.

With that Prochaska-powered win, the Falcons claimed a school-record fifth straight MAC divisional crown, with five league games remaining. Bowling Green, which has won the last four MAC regular-season championships, plays at Akron (9-15, 4-7) tomorrow afternoon.

The Falcons (22-2, 11-0) have shot almost 79 percent from the line as a team this season - fifth best in the nation.

"It started in recruiting, because we recruited good shooters," Miller said. "And one of our philosophies is to practice foul shooting when you are tired.

"Let's face it, infrequently during a game do you go to the free throw line when you are fresh. If we are attacking and playing the aggressive style that we want, we are always walking up to the foul line rather winded, so we have to practice it that way."

Contact Matt Markey at:

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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