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BG women play before record crowd

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    Kids cheer on Bowling Green's women's basketball team as they play Xavier Wednesday.

    Blade/Katie Rausch

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    Bowling Green's reserve players cheer on their teammates in the first half of Wednesday's home game against Xavier. The Falcons played before the largest crowd to witness a Bowling Green women's basketball game at the Stroh Center.

    Blade/Katie Rausch

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    Dave Fahle of Pemberville, center left, chats with his grandson Jonah Hunter, 4, as they cheer on Bowling Green.

    Blade/Katie Rausch

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    Students from Kentwood Elementary School perform the National Anthem before Bowling Green faced off against Xavier.

    Blade/Katie Rausch

BOWLING GREEN — The attendance figure for the Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team’s game against Xavier Wednesday is not a misprint.

The Falcons drew a crowd of 4,130 for their contest against Xavier at the Stroh Center, which tipped off at 11 a.m. More than 3,500 schoolchildren from Bowling Green and the surrounding area helped the Falcons attract the largest crowd for a BG women's basketball game at the Stroh Center, as well as the second-largest home attendance in program history.


Kids cheer on Bowling Green's women's basketball team as they play Xavier Wednesday.

Blade/Katie Rausch Enlarge

The only larger home crowd came when Bowling Green hosted Florida in an NCAA tournament game on March 17, 1993, and 4,408 fans crammed into Anderson Arena.

“It was great to play in front of a large crowd that was cheering for us,” said sophomore guard Caterrion Thompson. “The kids gave us energy, and we fed off their energy.”

RELATED: Falcons thump Xavier in matinee

It also is the third-largest Stroh Center crowd for a college women's basketball game since the facility opened in 2012. The largest was the first-round NCAA tournament game between undefeated and No. 1-ranked Baylor, featuring Brittany Griner, against Cal-Santa Barbara on March 18, 2012. The second game that day saw 4,195 fans file into the Stroh Center to see Ohio State take on Florida.

“It was an environment that we knew from the beginning would be advantageous for us,” BG coach Jennifer Roos said of Wednesday’s game. “That’s the energy we needed in facing a Big East opponent in Xavier.”

This was not the first time the Falcons have played a “school day” game this season, and Roos said previous contests at Detroit and at Robert Morris helped prepare her team for Wednesday’s matinee.

“We know when we have to nap, when we have to have our shoot-around, when our pregame meal is – we know what to do the night before,” she said. “There’s a lot of things you have to do, so this being our third helped us.”

That experience helped the Falcons jet to a 21-9 lead after the first quarter and cruise to a 63-53 victory.

“It was the start we wanted — and I thought it set a tempo,” Roos said.

Bowling Green made it a point to get cheering from the students in the stands, and Roos said the noise level also had an effect on the game.

“The officials came up to me and said, ‘You’re really going to have to work to get my attention, because I’m having trouble hearing’ — and the game hadn’t started,” she said. “We emphasized using hand signals and repeating stuff, and I thought our communication was much better than what it had been in the previous two morning games.”

Contact John Wagner at jwagner@theblade.com419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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