BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team faced a specific challenge from Xavier Wednesday morning: The Musketeers entered the Stroh Center intent on not allowing the Falcons to drive to the basket.
Challenge accepted, BG said.
The Falcons put together an impressive shooting performance in the first three quarters of a 63-53 victory over the Musketeers in a game that was not as close as the final score would indicate.
“We knew they would [isolate] the driving lanes and ‘ice’ the screens,” said Caterrion Thompson, who led Bowling Green with 19 points. “So we worked on pull-up jumpers — and being confident in taking our shot.”
The Falcons connected on 12-of-21 3-point attempts in the first three quarters (57.1 percent) to build a 56-37 lead and cruise to their seventh win in eight games this season.
“When we got a wing catch, their defensive strategy was to force you to the sideline — on either side [of the court],” BG coach Jennifer Roos explained. “They wanted to force us to a low-percentage shot, and then swarm to the ball.
VIDEO: Bowling Green-Xavier
“They did a fantastic job of doing that, but we emphasized that. We knew if we penetrated and made the extra pass, we would get some good looks. And we made some 3s, and that gave us confidence.”
Andrea Cecil backed Thompson by scoring 14 points while Carly Santoro added 12.
Xavier (4-3) was led by A’riana Gray and Princess Stewart with 10 points each.
The Falcons used a strong defensive effort to fuel a 15-2 run in the first 6:19 of the first quarter and lead 21-9 at the break. The Musketeers made just 1-of-10 field goals in that span while Santoro scored seven points and Cecil, an Oak Harbor native, added five.
Xavier managed to cut BG’s advantage to 23-17 with 6:46 left in the second period before three straight 3-pointers — one by Sydney Lambert and two by Thompson — helped the Falcons pull away and lead 38-24 at halftime.
“Seeing the first couple shots fall brought me a lot of confidence to keep shooting, and to keep driving to get open shots for teammates,” said Thompson, who had eight points in the second quarter.
In the third period Bowling Green got 3s by Lambert and Haley Puk to create a 22-point lead early, and the Musketeers made just 3-of-12 shots while missing all five of their 3-point attempts. The only thing that gave Xavier a faint pulse was a 7-for-10 effort from the foul line.
“We know we’ve struggled a little bit in our third quarters,” Thompson said. “We wanted to come out strong and confident so we could pick up where we left off.”
It may be a nit-pick, but the Falcons did struggle in the fourth quarter. BG made just 2-of-8 shots and turned the ball over seven times, allowing the Musketeers to make the score a little more respectable with a 16-7 scoring advantage.
“At the end of day, it’s about time and score,” Roos said. “I want us to shoot late in the shot clock, and when we do that the offense can be clunky at times ...
“We have to be able to execute throughout the game, no matter who’s in the game. But I didn’t want to shoot five seconds in the shot clock, and they made a couple of 3s.”
NOTES: The Falcons are 7-1 for the first time since the 2013-14 squad posted a 9-1 start on the way to a 30-5 record and the semifinals of the WNIT. ... Megan Christopher, the daughter of former BG (and current Xavier) athletics director Greg Christopher, played seven minutes for the Musketeers but did not score. ... Xavier’s director of operations for women’s basketball is former BG women’s basketball player Netta (Smith) Floyd. She was honored before the game.
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