BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team found itself in an unfamiliar position.
Instead of being the hunted, perched atop the Mid-American Conference’s East Division standings as they have been for the last seven seasons, the Falcons entered Wednesday’s contest one game behind Akron.
Bowling Green looked good in the role of hunter, posting a 74-61 win over the Zips in front of 1,562 fans at the Stroh Center. With the win, both teams now are 17-8 overall and 8-4 in the MAC with four league games to play.
“Our kids look at our standings board in the locker room every day, and they [saw] that we were one game behind Akron,” Bowling Green coach Jennifer Roos said. “Our kids were extremely motivated by seeing that standings board — they wanted to get the win.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Falcons down Zips
Alexis Rogers posted a double-double for the Falcons with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Chrissy Steffen nearly had a double-double with 17 points and nine boards. Danielle Havel finished with 13.
Sina King scored 15 points and added 10 rebounds while Rachel Tecca scored 13 for Akron.
Havel said the Falcons had no trouble getting revved up for Wednesday’s contest.
“We try to keep [our focus on] one game at a time, but we’re all competitors,” Havel said. “We look at the stats and talk about it, and we knew what [this game] meant.”
Both teams started out red-hot offensively as each scored 13 points in the first 4:20 of the game. But the Zips scored seven unanswered points to lead 20-13 with 14:10 to play, only to see the Falcons use a 16-2 run to build a 29-22 advantage with 7:06 left.
“I thought we shot the ball well from the arc in the first half,” said Roos of the Falcons, who made 6-of-14 3-pointers in the period. “We got a little bit 3-happy. But when it’s falling, why not?
“We have been shooting well from the arc, and that expanded the lane for our post players to work one-on-one.”
Havel had a trio of 3-pointers in the first half as BG led 37-31 at the break.
“I know my coach and my teammates have a lot of confidence in me, so I just need to have more confidence in myself,” she said. “I’m shooting it a lot more, and it’s going in, so I’m going to keep shooting it until it stops [going in].”
The one area where Akron had a huge advantage in the first half was on the boards, using seven offensive rebounds for a 25-16 rebounding advantage. So that was the focus of halftime, right?
“You will laugh, but we didn’t talk about rebounding at halftime,” Roos said. “I wanted to talk about what they were doing to us defensively when we screened, how they were going to trap when we ran a play.
“We talked more offensive-mindedly. We focused on looking to attack against some of their defensive screens.”
In the second half, Rogers took over, scoring 10 points as part of a 16-4 BG run that gave the Falcons a 56-40 lead.
“We’ve been working a lot of getting the ball into the post and working inside-out,” said Rogers as BG scored 30 of their 37 second-half points in the paint. “In the first half I was getting the wide-open move and not finishing.
“I got those same moves in the second half, and they started falling for me.”
From there the Falcons led by as many as 18 points, and Akron came no closer than seven as the two teams now are tied for the fourth spot in the seedings for the MAC Tournament. With this win BG now holds the fourth and final bye into the third round of the tourney.
NOTES: Before the game, the school announced a financial gift from Lee Meserve, BG’s faculty athletics representative for the last 16 years, and his wife, Marge. The gift, which is valued at nearly $1 million, will endow two athletics scholarships, pay for lights at Meserve Field, the school’s softball facility, and also endow a biological sciences professorship. … Bowling Green has never lost at home to Akron, winning all 26 prior meetings here. … Akron’s 61 points was the most for Mid-American Conference women’s basketball opponent in Stroh Center history. … The Falcons bench finished with 19 points after scoring just three in the loss at Akron.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.