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Published: Friday, 12/20/2013 - Updated: 12 months ago

Falcons stay sharp, trounce UMass despite lag in games

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bowling Green’s Deborah Hoekstra beats Massachusetts’ Emily Mital to a loose ball. Hoekstra scored 19 points off the bench. Bowling Green’s Deborah Hoekstra beats Massachusetts’ Emily Mital to a loose ball. Hoekstra scored 19 points off the bench.
BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge

BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University women’s basketball coach Jennifer Roos was a little worried Thursday.

“We’ve actually lost and hired a football coach in the period since we played our last game,” Roos said.

But the Falcons’ second-year coach did not need to worry, because her team blew out Massachusetts 86-46 on Thursday at the Stroh Center.

Bowling Green improved to 9-1 this season, tying the best start in school history, as four Falcons reached double figures. Deborah Hoekstra tied her career high with 19 points off the bench, while Erica Donovan scored 18, Alexis Rogers 16, and Jasmine Matthews 10.

“We have a lot of people stepping up,” Rogers said. “With Erica playing, and Deb really having stepped up the last few games, it makes the scoring even.”

Nola Henry scored 13 points to lead UMass (3-8), which also got 10 from Kim Pierre-Louis.

The game was originally scheduled for Sunday, but inclement weather canceled the UMass flight here. So to deal with a severe case of “cabin fever,” as Roos called it, the Falcons used shorter practices and played music during parts of practice.

The Falcons’ Jillian Halfhill drives past Massachusetts’ Nola Henry during the first half Thursday at the Stroh Center. Halfhill scored seven points as BG rolled to a victory. The Falcons’ Jillian Halfhill drives past Massachusetts’ Nola Henry during the first half Thursday at the Stroh Center. Halfhill scored seven points as BG rolled to a victory.
BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge

“With all that said, we were very focused in the short time we had [to prepare],” Roos said.

That focus was evident right away as BG scored the game’s first five points and used a 14-5 run to lead 21-10 eight minutes into the contest. After a UMass free throw, the Falcons used a 12-2 run to build a 44-21 halftime advantage.

The key to the first-half explosion was a strong defensive effort by BG, which forced 10 turnovers and allowed the Minutewomen to connect on just 6 of 27 shots from the field (22.2 percent).

“I think every one of our kids could draw every single play that UMass runs on a dry-erase board,” Roos said.

Bowling Green’s second-half lead never fell below 20 points thanks to a strong shooting effort by the Falcons, who made 14 of 25 shots (56 percent) in the half, including 4 of 8 on 3-pointers.

The Falcons were 10 of 11 on free throws in the second half and 19 of 22 (86.4 percent) overall.

“I feel our kids probably have to ice their shoulders with the amount of shooting we did during this break,” Roos said. “But it really paid off.”

Rogers said all of that fine shooting, along with BG’s ability to make the extra pass — the Falcons finished with 19 assists on 28 baskets, and five players notched at least three assists — has created better scoring opportunities for her and her teammates.

“I feel I’ve never had been open like I have been [this season],” she said. “I don’t have a defender right in my face because they have to respect the outside shooter. That gives me an opportunity to score. And it gives the opportunity for the extra pass to be there.

“We’ve always been a team that enjoys making the extra pass because we’ve been a team that prides itself on it.”

NOTES: Roos appreciated all the work that went into moving the game. The Falcons received permission from president’s office to play during finals week; professors had to agree for several players to move final exams; and afterward the Stroh Center staff had to work quickly to set up for graduation today. “Thanks to all the people who made these moving pieces come together,” Roos said. … UMass was without Rashida Timbilla, who averages 8.6 points per game. She suffered an ankle injury in her team’s win Tuesday at Kent State. … BG freshmen Leah Bolton and Kennedy Kirkpatrick were not in uniform Thursday. Roos said both remain day-to-day because of injuries.

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



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