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BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team claimed a 63-39 win over Ohio Sunday that may have seemed to be easy.
It was anything but easy.
The Falcons’ three seniors found themselves battling their emotions as they were honored before their final regular-season game at the Stroh Center.
Jillian Halfhill, Alexis Rogers, and Jill Stein all played well to lead BG to its 11th straight victory.
“It’s strange to think about not playing in front of our phenomenal fans,” Stein said. “I’m trying not to think about it as much as possible.
“There’s so much more to think about than my own personal basketball career. We still have a ton of stuff left to accomplish this year, and hopefully it won’t end any time soon.”
PHOTO GALLERY: BG women beat Ohio 63-39
Halfhill led the way with 12 points for Bowling Green (25-3, 15-1 Mid-American Conference). Rogers had 11 points and four assists, while Stein posted 11 points and 13 boards as the Falcons clinched no worse than the second seed in the MAC tournament.
Yamonie Jenkins scored 12 points to lead Ohio (9-18, 4-12).
BG coach Jennifer Roos said playing on Senior Day can be tough because of the emotions involved.
“Even though there are two regular-season games, and then the MAC tournament, then the postseason, Senior Day hits you,” she said.
“It hits you in your gut. It hits you in your heart. It hits you in your head. For those three to play so well, I’m really proud of them.”
The Falcons were not especially sharp offensively in the first half, but a strong defensive effort allowed them to take a 28-16 halftime lead. BG allowed the Bobcats to make just 5-of-26 shots from the field (19.2 percent), including just 2-of-14 3-pointers (14.3 percent), and forced nine turnovers.
“This is a team that makes 3s — and that beats teams by making 3s,” Roos said of Ohio. “We knew we had our work cut out for us defending the arc. At times we did, and at times we didn’t.
“You have to hope they miss some times, but they also took some contested shots.”
The strong defensive effort helped Bowling Green overcome 11-of-29 field-goal shooting (37.9 percent). The Falcons missed seven straight 3-pointers after making two of their first three from behind the arc.
“It took us a minute to get settled down after the introductions of our parents and seeing our baby pictures on the big screen,” Stein said. “And to their credit, OU had really good pressure on the wings and on reversals, so we got disjointed at times.
“I thought we collected ourselves and were much better in the second half.”
The Falcons scored 10 points in their first four possessions of the second half – thanks in part to a pair of 3-pointers by Jasmine Matthews — to lead 38-16 less than three minutes into the period. From that point BG never led by less than 18 points.
“That alleviates some of the pressure and stress,” Stein said of the quick second-half start.
“Shots fall easier, you’re not quiet as tight, and you can play loosely – and play better.”
All that was left in the final minutes was for Roos to substitute her three seniors out of the game, which each receiving loud applause from the crowd of 1,944.
“Having each one of them receive the ovation they deserved was important to me,” Roos said. “Having their families here was important, too.
“They deserve a little extra attention on Senior Day, and I’m glad they got that.”
NOTES: Miriam Justinger was not in uniform for Sunday’s game because of illness. Roos said the Northview High School product will see a doctor this week, but no timetable for her return was set. … The win made the Falcons 13-0 at the Stroh Center this year, the eighth time the BG program has completed the regular season unbeaten at home. … Sunday’s win marked the 13th straight time BG has won on “Senior Night.”
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.