Prochaska put together a huge offensive performance and an important defensive effort while playing through injuries in leading the Falcons to a come-from-behind 60-55 road win over Eastern Michigan.
Prochaska finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds while holding one of the MAC's top scorers, the Eagles' Cassie Schrock, to just five points and three assists. Schrock averages 14.1 points and 5.3 assists per game).
Considering that Prochaska, the two-time MAC player of the year, was playing with a foot problem that limited her practice time in the past week makes her a clear front-runner to win the award a third straight time.
"The story of the game was that we had Lauren -- and they didn't," BG coach Curt Miller said. "She was that good. She's a special player, especially considering that her foot was in a [protective] boot all week and she is really, really banged up."
No other Bowling Green player had more than six points. But that didn't keep the Falcons from improving their record to 20-4 overall and 8-3 in the Mid-American Conference.
BG reached the 20-win plateau for the eighth consecutive season, a MAC record, and for the 16th season overall, also the most of any league school.
Sydney Huntley had 20 points to lead Eastern Michigan (16-9, 7-4), while Tavelyn James had 15 and Paige Redditt added 10 for the Eagles.
The Falcons were dreadful offensively in the first half -- and would have been even worse without Prochaska. The senior scored 17 of BG's 24 points in the period, making 5 of 11 shots from the floor; the rest of the Falcons made just 2 of 17 (11.8 percent).
BG trailed 31-24 at halftime.
"We practiced all week on their defensive pressure, trying to simulate what they do," Prochaska said. "But we weren't able to handle what they do. We struggled to get open on the wings and to get open shots.
"I took more shots because I made a couple, and that gave me more confidence. I tried to step up and make as many as I could for the team."
Bowling Green still trailed 33-26 with 16:27 left but got a boost from an unlikely source -- freshmen Jillian Halfhill, Jill Stein and Noelle Yoder -- to get back into the game. The three freshmen were on the court when the Falcons made a 9-4 run to cut the EMU advantage to two points.
"The freshmen bailed us out," Miller admitted. "More than anything, they gave us an energy that we seemed to be lacking. They gave us a tempo that was better for us. And they were fearless.
"They gave us a spark, an energy, and I'm proud of them for it."
From there the lead yo-yoed back and forth following a Prochaska scoop shot in the lane that made the score 38-37 Falcons with 10:11 to play. Ten more lead changes followed that bucket before BG took the lead for good on -- what else? -- a basket by Prochaska, a 3-pointer that made it 55-52 with 1:42 left.
The Falcon defense was the difference in the final moments, as was the ability of Chrissy Steffen to corral a pair of key rebounds off EMU misses in the game's final moments.
"We did a good job of forcing first-shot misses," Miller said. "But there was a stretch in the final five minutes where [Eastern Michigan] got eight straight offensive rebounds.
"If we would have gotten some rebounds it would have shown that we were playing really good defense in not allowing them to take 3-pointers or get to the foul line."
The final numbers for both teams weren't pretty -- neither made more than 33.3 percent of their shots, and the two combined for 32 turnovers -- but that didn't lessen the beauty of the win in Miller's eyes.
"That was two talented basketball teams who played an ugly basketball game," he said. "I hope that we had something to do with it defensively, but I think both coaches are probably disappointed with the way their teams played.
"But as the old adage goes, I'll take an ugly win before a loss any day."
NOTES: Prochaska's 37-point effort gives her 2,164 career points. She moved past Toledo's Mimi Olsen into fourth place on the MAC's all-time scoring chart. … Northview grad Olivia Fouty, a freshman for Eastern Michigan, finished with no points but four rebounds in six minutes.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481.42.24088 -83.61309
Prochaska finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds in the Falcons' 60-55 win over Eastern Michigan.