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Published: Sunday, 3/24/2013

Stein’s strong 2nd half propels Falcons to WNIT win over Duquesne

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bowling Green’s Jill Stein, left, and Danielle Havel celebrate after the Falcons defeated Duquesne  in the second round of the WNIT on Saturday. Stein led the Falcons with 16 points in the victory. Bowling Green’s Jill Stein, left, and Danielle Havel celebrate after the Falcons defeated Duquesne in the second round of the WNIT on Saturday. Stein led the Falcons with 16 points in the victory.
BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge

BOWLING GREEN — Jill Stein said the shot was only 70 percent luck.

BG’s Jillian Halfhill (11) is fouled by Duquesne’s Wumi Agunbiade (10) during the first half of their WNIT game at the Stroh Center. BG’s Jillian Halfhill (11) is fouled by Duquesne’s Wumi Agunbiade (10) during the first half of their WNIT game at the Stroh Center.
BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge

Then she laughed.

“No, it was absolutely lucky,” Stein admitted when asked about a 3-point basket she made just before the shot-clock rang out midway through the second half.

That 3-pointer launched the junior on a 13-point scoring spree, a run that helped propel the Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team to a 61-54 win over Duquense in a second round WNIT game at the Stroh Center on Saturday.

Stein finished with a career-high 16 points and added five rebounds, while Jillian Halfhill added 14 points for the Falcons, who improved to 24-10.

PHOTO GALLERY

Thanks to the win, Bowling Green will host Drexel, which beat Harvard Saturday, in a third-round WNIT game at 7 p.m. on Thursday the Stroh Center.

Vanessa Abel scored 14 points to lead Duquesne (24-8), which also got 12 from Wumi Agunbiade, and 11 from Orsi Szecsi.

The Dukes controlled the game through most of the first half. Stein hit a 3 with 3:33 left that gave the Falcons a 22-21 lead, their first of the game, only to see Duquesne use an 8-3 finish to build a 29-25 halftime advantage.

BG trailed 38-32 early in the second half before trimming its deficit to two points at 38-36 with 11:46 still to plan. With the shot-clock running down, Stein heaved the ball at the basket from about 25 feet away — and it rattled home to give the Falcons a 39-38 lead.

Even though Duquesne scored on its next two possessions to retake the lead, it felt as if Bowling Green had taken control of the contest.

“When we got the lead, even though they got the lead back quickly, we knew we were back in it,” Stein said. “We were fighting and we weren’t going to let up.

“The crowd went crazy, and we fed off that.”

Stein was the catalyst, hitting a pair of free throws, two layups, and two more jumpers — the last coming again just before the shot clock expired — for 13 points in a seven-minute span.

“She hit two shots with the shot-clock running down — and they both were contested,” Duquesne coach Susie McConnell-Serio said of Stein. “Those were back-breakers.

“We talk that, this time of year, it’s about players besides your marquee players stepping up. And she certainly did that coming off the bench.”

From that point it was up to the Falcons to make their free throws to seal the victory, and they did just that as they connected on 10 of their last 13.

One key to the win was rebounding, and BG held a 39-35 advantage thanks to eight by Chrissy Steffen, seven from Rogers, and six apiece by Danielle Havel and Allison Papenfuss.

Another was limiting turnovers, as Duquesne came into the game forcing teams to make more than 23 turnovers a game. Meanwhile BG had turned the ball over a whopping 60 times in its last two contests. They finished with 15 turnovers in the game.

“I was really proud that we were able to reduce our turnovers,” Bowling Green coach Jennifer Roos said. “And I was proud that we reduced the points we gave up [because of turnovers to 18 after giving up 63 in the last two games].

“I thought we had only two turnovers that led to a fast break for them. I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball.”

The Falcons also benefited from Stein’s improved play, which is a continuation of her good work in the month of March. After averaging 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in her first 26 games, she has upped those numbers to 10.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in March.

“Every year our goal is to be playing our best basketball in March, as a team and individually,” Stein said. “I think that’s what I’m focusing on, in games and in practice. …

“This is the time of the year that I want to be peaking, so I’m glad that it’s happening now.”

Roos said the improvement in Stein’s game has come simply from playing hard.

“Good things happen when people play hard,” Roos said. “She’s playing hard; she’s also playing with a broken finger that gets hit every day. But she’s the benefactor of playing hard.”

NOTES: Bowling Green’s Miriam Justinger, who was hit hard late in the Falcons’ win over SMU on Thursday, started and played 30 minutes for the Falcons on Saturday. She seemed to have a black right eye but still finished with eight points, an assist and two steals. ... The crowd for Saturday’s game was announced at 1,106. ... The Falcons now have won a pair of WNIT games for the first time in school history. ... Bowling Green has evened its all-time record in the WNIT at 4-4 with this win.

Contact John Wagner at:jwagner@theblade.com,419-724-6481, or onTwitter @jwagnerblade.



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