BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team burst out of the gates Sunday and used that early momentum to post an 81-66 victory over Saint Francis at the Stroh Center.
The Falcons needed just two minutes to score 11 points, and they roared to a 19-2 lead with 16:45 to play — in the first half.
PHOTO GALLERY: BG women top Saint Francis 81-66
But from that point, Bowling Green (10-2) played even with the Red Flash, which used a full-court press and a half-court zone that gave the Falcons trouble for much of the rest of the game.
“We started out really strong, and Saint Francis had to make some adjustments,” BG coach Jennifer Roos said. “That scramble zone really slowed our tempo down.”
Erica Donovan posted her second double-double this season to lead the Falcons, finishing with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Deborah Hoekstra came off the bench to score 16, while Miriam Justinger had 12 and both Alexis Rogers and Jillian Halfhill added 10.
Alli Williams scored 18 points to lead Saint Francis (2-9), while Aisha Brock had 15 and Alexa Hayward 13.
The Falcons’ blazing start saw them make six of their first eight shots, including all three 3-point attempts, as well as all four free throws. What’s more, BG forced four Saint Francis turnovers before the Red Flash even attempted a shot.
“We made a point to come out and shoot well,” Roos said. “But we only prepped against a man [defense], and Saint Francis played three-fourths of the game in a zone. They threw us a curve.”
The Falcons led 51-19 with three minutes left in the first half, but saw that 32-point lead nearly cut in half by a 15-2 finish by the Red Flash.
In the second half, BG led by as many as 26 points before Saint Francis finished with a 16-6 flourish to whittle into the final margin.
“I thought [their defense] forced us into some missed layups,” Roos said. “With their lengths on the wings we couldn’t [reverse the ball]. We missed opportunities to throw the ball inside, and the skip passes were wide open.
“We did settle for some 3’s, but I thought they were good 3’s, so I was fine with that.”
The Falcons also tied their season high with 21 turnovers.
“We didn’t stay composed,” Donovan said. “We didn’t play Bowling Green basketball.
“We couldn’t get past the zone, we couldn’t get past the trapping, we couldn’t get past any of it without turning the ball over.”
The Falcons also suffered a second-half letdown in their 3-point shooting. After connecting on 7-of-17 3’s (41.2 percent) in the first half, BG made just 1-of-11 (9.1 percent) in the second half.
“Coach Roos has always told us to shoot the ball,” Donovan said. “If you feel you are open, and your man is approaching you with their hands down, shoot the ball.”
Bowling Green’s 10 nonconference victories marked the seventh time in eight seasons the Falcons have recorded double-digit wins outside league play.
“To finish the nonconference [schedule] with a win, I’m happy for that,” Roos said. “But now the conference season begins.”
NOTE: Neither Leah Bolton nor Kennedy Kirkpatrick was in uniform for BG. The two freshmen have combined to play just five games because of injuries.