BOWLING GREEN — The goal for the Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team is to play its best basketball in March.
But the Falcons’ 56-43 victory against Buffalo in front of 1,545 at the Stroh Center on Thursday wasn’t pretty, with BG making just 32.7 percent of its shots while turning the ball over 16 times.
“Good thing it’s February,” Chrissy Steffen said.
Steffen posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Jillian Halfhill added 12 points, seven boards, and four assists in a must-win game for the Falcons, who improved to 18-9 overall and 9-5 in the Mid-American Conference.
Mackenzie Loesing scored 15 points while Margeaux Gupilan added 10 for Buffalo (9-18, 7-7).
BG coach Jennifer Roos said the game was “must-win” for a variety of reasons, perhaps the biggest being the Falcons’ disappointing Saturday loss at Miami.
“We had a tough, tough loss at Miami, so coming into this game I knew our confidence would be shaken,” she said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well, and we gave up a ton of shots [at Miami] — and we couldn’t get consecutive stops.”
That wasn’t a problem early against the Bulls, who made just one of their first nine shots and committed six turnovers in the first seven minutes.
The problem was that BG wasn’t scoring much early, either, and led just 9-3 when Alexis Rogers reinjured her nose with 13 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first half.
“The beginning wasn’t the way we wanted to start; we had a lot of turnovers,” Steffen said. “I thought we had a lot of energy, but we couldn’t settle down.”
Jill Stein had eight points and eight rebounds in a season-high 28 minutes. Danielle Havel added eight rebounds as BG outrebounded the taller Bulls 43-33.
“It was a great effort by her,” Roos said of Stein. “She has developed into the first post [player] off the bench for us, and she has really accepted that role — and excelled at that role.”
Bowling Green built a 19-5 lead by the 7:09 mark of the first half and led 27-19 at the break by forcing 14 Buffalo turnovers, which led to 14 BG points.
The Falcons led 35-21 early in the second half before the Bulls scored nine straight to whittle the lead to 35-30 with 13:04 to play.
But a basket in the paint by Allison Papenfuss sparked a 14-4 run that allowed the Falcons to coast, keeping alive slim hopes for a bye into the third round of the MAC tournament.
“We’re focusing on each game, taking it one at a time,” Steffen said. “We’re a strong family, and we don’t let anything come in between us.”
NOTES: After the game, Roos read a brief statement regarding former assistant coach Ali Mann’s resignation. She confirmed the timeline laid out Wednesday and said that, because of student privacy concerns, she would be “limited” in discussing the issue further. … Roos said Rogers is not expected to miss BG’s home game Sunday against Ohio.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.