Bowling Green’s Alexis Rogers shoots over Buffalo’s Christa Baccas on Saturday at the Stroh Center. Rogers scored 22 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds as the Falcons won their opening game in MAC play.
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BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green State University senior forward Alexis Rogers made the Falcons’ game against Buffalo into something personal.
“I broke my nose against them [in the first meeting last season], and in the second game they hit my nose in the first six minutes, and I couldn’t stop bleeding — so I couldn’t go into the game,” Rogers said.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos from the basketball game
Rogers didn’t have those problems Saturday, and she responded with a season-high 22 points and a career-best 17 rebounds in BG’s 62-50 win.
Rogers, who before the game was nervous enough to wear a facemask during the shoot-around to prepare her to wear it, if necessary, collected 10 offensive boards to lead the Falcons in their Mid-American Conference opener.
Miriam Justinger added 11 points, all in the first half, while Jill Stein added nine points and 13 rebounds.
Margeaux Gupilan finished with 15 points for Buffalo (7-5, 0-1 MAC), and Joanna Smith had 10.
Bowling Green’s Jillian Halfhill shoots against Buffalo’s Christa Baccas. Halfhill scored six points in the Falcons’ win.
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Bowling Green (11-2, 1-0) played without Erica Donovan for the first half as she attended a family funeral in Toledo.
Rogers felt Donovan’s absence was part of the reason the Falcons fell behind 7-0 after just three possessions.
“She brings a lot of energy to the game early,” Rogers said. “We did miss her energy in the first half.
“After the first media timeout, I thought we got it together.”
The Bulls made four of their first six shots while Bowling Green started 0 for 5, a big reason UB led 10-2 after just three minutes.
“We were a little shell-shocked with them making shots, and then we had open looks — and we didn’t make it,” BG coach Jennifer Roos said. “But to our credit we responded with a run.
“And that run was directly attributed to Miriam.”
The Northview High School graduate hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get the Falcons back into the contest, and her third 3 of the first half gave Bowling Green a 15-14 led with 12:40 left.
That was about the same time Buffalo lost Mackenzie Loesing, the player responsible for eight of the Bulls’ first 12 points. She went down hard and seemed to hit her head on the floor roughly five minutes into the game and never returned.
“You could tell that [injury] took a little wind out of their sails,” Roos said. “We knew she would look to get a lot of touches early on, and she is a big offensive cog for them.
“I thought Loesing’s first step [offensively] was better than Miriam’s first step defensively [early], but then Miriam got a block on her in the corner, and that seemed to change momentum.”
Bowling Green led by as many as 10 points in the first half and carried a 31-25 lead into halftime.
In the second half the Falcons never built a lead larger than 13 points, but they also never allowed Buffalo to get closer than five.
Part of the reason was a dominating effort on the boards by Bowling Green, which finished with 19 offensive rebounds and a 51-35 overall edge.
“After watching film, I thought they had the height advantage — but they didn’t really box out,” Rogers said of the Bulls. “So if you move around, and you’re in the right spot at the right time, the ball falls into your hands.”
NOTES: Freshmen Kennedy Kirkpatrick and Leah Bolton were not in uniform for the game. Roos said both continue to be day-to-day, although neither currently is practicing with the team. … Freshman post Abby Siefker sang the national anthem before the contest.
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