Flexible lineup a plus for Falcons

7 letterwinners return to 24-win team for 2nd-year coach Roos

11/7/2013
BLADE STAFF
Bowling Green's Alexis Rogers was All-Mid-American Conference last season. The senior posted 10.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game last season for the Falcons.
Bowling Green's Alexis Rogers was All-Mid-American Conference last season. The senior posted 10.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game last season for the Falcons.

BOWLING GREEN — There are 12 players on the Bowling Green State University women’s basketball roster, which means there are a number of possible starting lineups.

Bowling Green guard Jillian Halfhill is one of three returning starters. The senior averaged 8.9 points and 2.2 assists per game last season.
Bowling Green guard Jillian Halfhill is one of three returning starters. The senior averaged 8.9 points and 2.2 assists per game last season.

Second-year coach Jennifer Roos is excited by the possibilities.

“We can start a really big lineup with Alexis Rogers and Erica Donovan on the perimeter and both Jill Stein and Abby Siefker as well as a point guard,” Roos said. “We have some versatility.”

The Falcons also have some talent, as seven letterwinners and three starters return from last season’s team, which posted a 24-11 overall record and was 11-5 in Mid-American Conference play.

BG, which advanced to the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament before losing to eventual champ Drexel, was picked to finish second in the MAC East Division this season.

Senior Alexis Rogers, who was a preseason All-MAC East Division choice, can play in the post and on the perimeter. Last year Rogers received All-MAC second team honors after averaging 10.9 points and a team-best 6.0 rebounds per game. Another returning senior starter is point guard Jillian Halfhill, who averaged 8.9 points and 3.3 assists per game while adding 5.1 rebounds despite standing just 5-foot-6.

“She did take a step forward last year,” Roos said of Halfhill. “Her first real playing time came as a junior, and she really blossomed. I think she has shown a lot of maturity, and she feels comfortable at that position.

“We will rely on her to get us into offense. And we will rely on her to get us to the foul line because I think she does a tremendous job of drawing fouls.”

The third returning starter is sophomore Miriam Justinger. The Northview High School product started 22 times in her first year on campus and averaged 5.6 points per game.

“Miriam had an outstanding freshman year,” Roos said. “When Jasmine Matthews was hurt, Miriam became the defensive stopper. …

“Miriam stepped up into that role. She’s like the silent assassin: When you double-team Alexis Rogers or Jill Stein, they find the open kid — and the open kid is usually Miriam Justinger.”

The other two starters for the Falcons in their exhibition win over Tiffin were senior Jill Stein, who was one of BG’s best players during the WNIT run, and sophomore Erica Donovan, a transfer from North Carolina State who Roos said can play a variety of positions on the court and could be an “X” factor for the team.

“When you define the ‘X’ factor you’re talking about the unknown,” Roos said. “With her having to sit out because of transfer rules, a lot of people don’t know her.

“Some people are unaware of her ability, and I think they will be pleased with her.”

Roos said the new college rules that have referees calling fouls much more tightly than in past seasons will cause every player on the roster to have an expanded role.

“[Because of the new rules] I think the deeper team will be the one that goes further and has more success,” Roos said. “And I anticipate a lot of people making contributions.”

NOTES: Freshman Leah Bolton suffered a knee injury soon after practices started in the fall and had meniscus surgery. The date for her return is unknown. … The Falcons open their season with a pair of games in the Iona Tipoff Tournament. BG opens against Michigan Friday at 4 p.m., then will play either Iona or Arizona Saturday. … BG’s home opener will be against Niagara at the Stroh Center on Nov. 15 starting at 6 p.m.