BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team accepted a dare in its game against Wyoming Sunday.
“[Wyoming] challenged us to make shots,” BG coach Jennifer Roos said. “And when you look at our shooting percentages, that’s probably the best way to play us. …
“That was the right roll of the dice by their coaching staff.”
But that gamble didn’t pay off as the Falcons shot extremely well in a 79-69 win over the Cowgirls at the Stroh Center.
Bowling Green posted its best shooting game of the season to win its fourth straight game. The Falcons shot 50 percent from the field and 57.1 percent on 3-pointers to improve to 7-3 this season.
All five starters finished in double figures for BG, led by Chrissy Steffen’s 21 points. Alexis Rogers scored 20, Jasmine Matthews 11 while Jillian Halfhill and Danielle Havel each had 10. Havel also had a game-high 11 rebounds for her third double-double this season and second in three games.
Kayla Woodward and Kaitlyn Mileto each scored 13 points to lead Wyoming (8-2), while Ashley Sickles and Alison Gorrell both had 10.
“This is an excellent win against essentially a Top 25 squad,” Roos said. “I’m just really ecstatic about this win, and about how hard our kids played.”
The first half was all about offense as the team connected on shots and traded points. The Falcons shot 51.7 percent from the floor and made 7-of-10 3’s, but Wyoming made 50 percent of its field goals and was 6-of-8 on 3’s.
That’s why there were five ties and three lead changes in the half, which ended with Bowling Green on top 43-39.
“We would hit a big shot, but then they would hit a big shot,” Roos said. “I was happy with our offensive execution, yet I didn’t feel we could get consecutive stops [on defense] against them.
“That was an issue we needed to correct at halftime.”
Early in the second half the Cowgirls cut BG’s lead to 50-48 with 14:00 minutes to play. But the Falcons made some defensive adjustments and promptly held Wyoming scoreless over the next six minutes to build an 11-point advantage.
Roos said the Falcons also rolled the dice in the second half, and it was a defensive bet that paid off.
“[Assistant coach] Jesse Fleming, who is our defensive coordinator, made some adjustments that, when I was the defensive coordinator last year, would not have done,” Roos admitted. “I have to give him a lot of credit; he did some things that I’m not used to, but we rolled with it and it worked for us.”
Among the adjustments were playing behind players in the post, challenge shooters and box out after shots, all of which helped the Falcons outrebound the taller Cowgirls 39-33 and force Wyoming to shoot just 30 percent in the second half.
“We came out in the second half with a lot of energy on defense,” Steffen said. “We made sure we contested every shot and were running off the staggers, and that was constant.”
BG led by as many as 14 in the second half before a late run by Wyoming cut the Falcons lead to 74-69 with 46 seconds to play. But Bowling Green made its last five free throws to close out the win.
While the defensive adjustments were big, the win was the product of the Falcons’ best shooting day of the season.
“We’ve gotten our sea legs under us a little bit,” Steffen said of BG’s improved shooting. “We’ve gotten into a better flow Jasmine is back and I think is 100 percent, and Alexis is playing awesome. We have a lot of confidence, which is good to see.”
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.