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Published: Sunday, 3/21/2010

Bowling Green unable to beat MSU in rare role as underdog

Bowling Green's Lauren Prochaska splits a pair of Michigan State defenders as she drives to the hoop. She finished with 19 points. Bowling Green's Lauren Prochaska splits a pair of Michigan State defenders as she drives to the hoop. She finished with 19 points.
ED REINKE / AP Enlarge

LOUISVILLE - Bowling Green State University is often the team wearing the bull's-eye on its back.

That wasn't the case yesterday when the No. 12 seed Falcons took on No. 5 seed Michigan State in the NCAA women's basketball tournament.

Looking to pull off the upset, Bowling Green came up short in a 72-62 loss.

But BG coach Curt Miller complimented his team for a valiant fight.

"I can't begin to express how proud I am of our effort," Miller said.

"We competed tonight. We have grown a lot during the season. We did not back down. We went toe-to-toe with a very talented team - a team that I believe has Top 10 talent."

DEFENSIVE STOPS: Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant didn't just want the Spartans to try and contain the Falcons' long-range shooting. She also prepped her team in defending against BG driving to the basket.

"There's a lot of tape on Bowling Green and how when they get to the [foul-lane] line they break the foul line and they are going to shoot no matter what," Merchant said.

"Very rarely are they going to kick it. Their team knows that, so it's a great opportunity for offensive rebounds. It's also a great opportunity for them to get a foul. We've been working on that for four days.

"We know they were going to throw that shot up… When we didn't foul them they kind of shot crazy shots."

SENIOR FINALE: The loss represented the final game for BG seniors Tara Breske, Tamika Nurse, Maggie Hennegan, Sarah Clapper, and Laura Bugher.

Breske finished with seven points and three rebounds after playing most of the game in foul trouble.

Nurse finished with two points, but tied her career-high in rebounds with a team-high eight, while also dishing out a team-high seven assists.

Hennegan added four points and seven boards, while Clapper swished a 3-pointer during the final minute of play.

PONTIUS NEARS 1,000: Tracy Pontius entered the game needing 18 points to reach 1,000 for her career.

But she finished with 15 points on five 3-pointers.

BG CROWD: Plenty of BG supporters started lining up outside Freedom Hall more than an hour before tip-off.

At game time, there were more than three times as many Falcon fans than Spartan fans.

Only Kentucky, which defeated Liberty in the second game, had a bigger fan turnout.

BG-MSU SERIES: The Spartans improved to 8-4 all-time against the Falcons.

The last two losses against the Spartans have taken place in postseason competition. MSU defeated Bowling Green 67-49 in the 2008 Women's National Invitation Tournament first round.

It was the Falcons' 10th NCAA tournament appearance and the fourth under Miller, who is 2-4 in NCAA games.

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