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Published: Thursday, 3/15/2012

BG hopes to make most of tournament

BLADE STAFF

BOWLING GREEN -- Since the Bowling Green State University women's basketball team wasn't playing in the Mid-American Conference tournament title game Saturday, Jessica Slagle didn't watch it on TV -- much.

"I turned it on just before halftime to see what the score was," Slagle said. "And then I checked my phone at the end to see the final score.

"It wasn't that I didn't have any interest -- it was hard to watch."

The Falcons' loss to Central Michigan in the semifinals of the MAC tournament didn't end BG's season. Instead the Falcons will play in the Women's National Invitation Tournament, which opens Thursday at 7 p.m. with a contest at the Stroh Center against Virginia Commonwealth.

"Personally, being a senior, [losing in the MAC tournament] always is going to sting," Slagle said. "We feel we worked all year, and then to [feel] disappointed like that I felt stung everyone.

"But being in the WNIT is a great opportunity for us, for our younger players to experience post-season play. We're thankful to be in post-season play."

Bowling Green coach Curt Miller was concerned how his team would react to the loss to Central Michigan in the MAC tournament semifinals.

He said his young squad, which has Slagle as its only senior on the floor and includes four sophomores and five freshmen, has rebounded positively from the disappointing loss.

"From the beginning [of practice Monday] they had energy," he said. "There was excitement to be practicing again. I saw passion, and I saw hunger.

"That's all a coaching staff can ask for. I was really, really pleased with our attitude and effort."

Miller said having success in the WNIT is as much about having the proper attitude as it is having good talent.

"There are teams in the WNIT that are absolutely excited to be in it, and there are teams that are limping to the finish line," he said. "I think your attitude, and the way you prepare, is as important as anything this time of year.

"The mature teams, and the teams that really take this opportunity seriously, are the teams that can make runs."

Miller said the Falcons have their work cut out for them in their contest against VCU, an athletic team that was 17-15 overall and posted a 9-9 record in the Colonial Athletic Association.

"They have two unbelievable players that headline their team," Miller said of the Rams.

"They have a power forward [Countney Hunt] who is as good as anyone in the country. She's a monster rebounder can score in so many ways. And their guard [Andrea Barbour] was one of the best young guards in the country as a freshman in the [Atlantic Coast Conference]. We got a really tough draw.

"If you do the eye test in warm-ups, they will be a heavy favorite. But games aren't won in warm-ups."

Slagle said she and her teammates just appreciate the opportunity to keep playing.

"I just want to enjoy the games," she said. "I just want to end my tenure here the right way. No one wants to leave on a loss, and you'd better believe we're going to try and take this as far as we can.

"It's a pride thing. We're definitely going in it to win it."

-- John Wagner


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