Central Michigan's Crystal Bradford beats Bowling Green's Chrissy Steffen for the rebound.
(CLEVELAND) PLAIN DEALER/LONNIE TIMMONS III
CLEVELAND — The Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team suffered an 81-48 loss to Central Michigan in the third round of the Mid-American Conference tournament Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.
And that 33-point margin of defeat wasn’t the least bit misleading. The Falcons’ dreadful shooting performance and a complete inability to take care of the basketball resulted in the program’s worst loss in its MAC tournament history.
All that was left to do afterward was wax philosophically about the 58-point turnaround in fortunes since the two teams met in February, when the Falcons won 84-59.
“Some days you can’t throw it into the ocean, and some days you can’t miss it,” said BG’s Jill Stein, who had 10 points.
The Falcons made just 34.5 percent of their shots from the field, including only 8 of 33 on 3-pointers (24.2 percent).
“When we played at Bowling Green, they put 50 points on us in the second half — and we couldn’t buy a basket,” Central Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. “Give Bowling Green credit: When they get going [offensively], they can really get going.
“And if you go into the second game with the same game play you had the first time — and you expect a different result — you’re pretty stupid.”
So the Chippewas switched from the first game’s man-to-man defense to a zone that featured a lot of traps, which caused Bowling Green to commit a season-high 34 turnovers — well above its season’s average of 14.3 per game.
What’s more, CMU turned those turnovers into a whopping 39 points.
“Their traps were extremely aggressive,” BG coach Jennifer Roos said. “But when you’re timid, and you make poor decisions about picking the ball up after half-court, they’re going to be more aggressive.
“It did not behoove us to make some the decisions we made in regards to their pressure.”
Central Michigan (19-11) — which got 23 points from Crystal Bradford, 14 from Brandie Baker, and 10 from Jessica Schroll — advanced to the semifinals of the MAC tournament. The third-seeded Chippewas will face top seed Toledo today at noon.
The game was decided during a 10-minute stretch in the first half that began after Alexis Rogers, who led the Falcons with 14 points, made a layup to give BG a 7-5 lead.
Central Michigan scored 11 straight points before Bailey Cairnduff’s 3 at the 12 minute, 47-second mark made it 16-10 — and the Falcons’ struggles really began.
During a span of 14 scoreless possessions, Bowling Green committed 11 turnovers — including turnovers on seven straight possessions at one point — in a scoreless eight-minute span.
“We didn’t want to set a lot of screens, but it was difficult to pass through them,” Rogers said. “We struggled to get the ball into the middle because anywhere on the sideline we were getting trapped.
“Baseline, sideline, corner. There were traps coming from all over the place.”
So were the points — at least for the Chippewas, who scored 21 points between BG baskets. CMU lead by as many as 27 in the first half and held a 40-24 advantage at the break.
Bowling Green tried to get into the game by making 3s, but made just 4 of 17 (23.5 percent) in the first half and 8 for 33 (24.2 percent) in the game.
“For as many 3s as we took in the first half, I didn’t think any of them were forced — and a lot of them were wide open,” Roos said. “We passed up several 3s because we weren’t shooting the ball well.
“And when you’re a hesitant shooter, there’s no chance of the ball going in.”
The result was the Falcons’ worst loss against a MAC opponent since 2001, when BG suffered a 36-point loss at Eastern Michigan.
“Losing hurts regardless [the margin or the point in the tournament],” Stein said. “I know we had the mind-set that we wanted [this win].”
The hope now is that the Falcons (22-10) receive a postseason bid to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The teams chosen for that tournament should be announced Monday night following the release of NCAA selections.
“I believe we are a lock for a WNIT bid,” Roos said. “That would be our ninth consecutive season in postseason play. This is our 10th consecutive 20-win season and 10th consecutive season with double-digit conference wins. ...
“This was one game. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you lose the way we did, but the team did not quit. And I look forward to postseason play.”