Falcons ready to play Ball State after layoff


BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team earned an automatic pass into the semifinals of this year’s Mid-American Conference tournament.

By winning the MAC’s regular-season title with a 17-1 mark, the Falcons flew directly into today’s noon contest against Ball State at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena. There are pros and cons to this format, which is in its third season, and BG coach Jennifer Roos said she and her team will take a “glass half-full” approach.

“We’ll have an additional day off [to deal with] bumps and bruises, and people who weren’t feeling well will be back healthy,” Roos said earlier this week. “The glass ‘half-empty’ is that the first time we will play [in a week] is Friday, and the first time we’ll be on the main floor at The Q will be one hour before tipoff.

“That’s difficult, not having played there any time this season. Gaining the No. 1 seed helps us in that it’s a 60-minute warm-up rather than a 30-minute warm-up if we were playing in the second semifinal.”

Ball State played on the court Tuesday and Wednesday, so the Cardinals are familiar with the arena. But BSU will be playing its third game in four days, while the Falcons should be fresh.

Roos said her team, which is 27-3 this season and ranked 25th in this week’s Associated Press poll, has had little time to prepare for Ball State, since BG didn’t know its opponent until the Cards beat Buffalo on Thursday afternoon. As a result, the Falcons had practices that did not focus on a specific opponent.

“[Tuesday] we had more of a conditioning practice and a shooting practice,” Roos said. “We worked on a little bit of everything.

“[Wednesday] we continued to prepare in a similar way. We watched film on all of our opponents and worked on ‘packages’ that will prepare us for each one.”

The MAC tournament is usually filled with surprises, and this year’s event is no exception. Ball State pulled an upset to reach its semifinal contest with Bowling Green and should the Falcons advance to the title game, more surprises await.

Central Michigan, the only MAC team to beat BG during the regular season, will be without league player of the year Crystal Bradford because of an injury. And the Chippewas will face a challenge in their semifinal game against Akron, even though the Zips’ star player, Rachel Tecca, was injured when the Falcons claimed a 77-76 win over Akron in their regular-season finale.

“You have to be prepared for anything and everything, and that’s difficult to do in such a short period of time,” Roos said. “I thought last year when we lost to Central Michigan, they did a great job of pressing us in a three-quarter-court trap and falling back into a zone, and because we had such a short time to prepare [we didn’t handle it well].”

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