KENT, Ohio — The Bowling Green State University women's basketball team didn't lack for chances to win at Kent State on Saturday.
The Falcons had three possessions in the final minute of play, meaning BG had three opportunities to score the one point it needed to catch the Golden Flashes.
But Bowling Green never took advantage of those opportunities and suffered a 44-43 loss at the MAC Center, ending the Falcons' 15-game winning streak.
"We didn't feel we played well enough win — but could we steal this one?" BG coach Curt Miller said of his thoughts during that final minute. "They gave us one more chance to maybe steal a road victory.
"And that's how you win championships, by maybe stealing a road victory you don't deserve to have."
The victory in this defense-dominated game gave Kent State (13-3) sole possession of first place in the Mid-American Conference's East Division at 4-0. The Falcons fell to 15-2 and are one game behind the Flashes at 3-1.
BG, which scored 90 points in its last two games, made just 28.6 percent of its shots from the floor and had 19 turnovers. Senior Lauren Prochaska was the only Falcon to finish in double figures with 13 points, and BG's point total was by far its lowest of the season, 19 behind the season-opening loss at Evansville.
Kent State, which made 40.4 percent of its shots and just 2-for-15 from behind the 3-point arc (13.3 percent) turned the ball over 23 times, and got 16 from Jamilah Humes and 11 from Taisja Jones.
"It was two veteran teams with nine seniors on the floor playing a tournament game, in my opinion," Miller said. "That's how hard the two teams played defensively.
"It was anyone's game down the stretch, and they made a few more plays at the end than we did."
Kent State jumped out to an early 11-2 lead, but Bowling Green scored the next eight points and things remained close throughout. The Golden Flashes led 20-18 at the break, and in the second half there were six ties and eight lead changes, with neither team ever leading by more than four points.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win by doing what we did on the defensive end," Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said. "I told our players that this had to be a low-possession game.
"We couldn't win an 80-to-85 [point] game, so we had to try and defend and hold the score down."
BG's last lead was a 39-38 advantage with 4:58 to play as Humes and Jones scored on consecutive possessions to give the Flashes a 42-39 lead. After a Prochaska basket, KSU's Stephanie Gibson scored on a layup with 3:08 left.
While the Golden Flashes would not score again, BG managed just two points on a pair of free throws by Jen Uhl with 1:36 remaining. The Falcons were 0-for-5 in the final three minutes, yet still had a chance to win when Chrissy Steffen forced a jump ball with 12 seconds left and BG had possession.
The Falcons set up a play for Steffen to dribble off the ball screen, with the option to either attack the rim or pass to an open player. Steffen missed the shot, Kent rebounded and was fouled, and Bowling Green's last gasp was a three-quarter court shot by Tracy Pontius that bounced off the rim.
"I thought there would be a lot of attention given to other players," Miller explained when asked about the final play. "Chrissy is probably our best one-on-one player [driving] to the hole, and I thought she could get to the hole.
"I give her all the credit in the world: It was run exactly the way we drew it up. We just didn't get the shot to fall."
The loss snapped a string 13 straight victories over Kent State.
"I think it's an important loss, and something we have to learn from," Prochaska said. "We have to get better and move on."
Miller agreed, adding, "I didn't think we could go undefeated [in the MAC] — I'm not sure anyone could go undefeated. No goals have changed. Our goal is to put ourselves in position to win the conference, and one loss isn't going to change that.
"We want to be playing our best basketball in March. [We hope] this helps us continue to improve and play our best basketball in March."
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481.
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