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Published: Monday, 1/13/2014 - Updated: 11 months ago

COMMENTARY

Matthews adds depth to loaded BG

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

BOWLING GREEN — Jennifer Roos knows her Bowling Green women’s team can be hard to defend. There are a lot of shooters with which opposing teams have to deal.

Matthews Matthews
HANDOUT. NOT BLADE PHOTO. Enlarge

Now there’s one more.

The Falcons faced Akron, the preseason pick to repeat as Mid-American Conference East Division champion, in a Sunday matinee and did so with a couple of big hitters saddled with foul trouble.

PHOTO GALLERY: BGSU women top Akron 81-65

RELATED ARTICLE: Bowling Green still dominant over Zips

So Jasmine Matthews turned in her longest stretch of the season, 24 minutes, and kicked in 12 points and four rebounds in an 81-65 Falcons victory.

This is no small thing. Matthews started the last 21 games for BG in 2011-12 and was selected to the league’s all-freshman team. Her second season was twice interrupted, and eventually ended, by stress fractures in her right leg.

“It broke my heart what she went through,” Roos said.

Matthews’ leg and Roos’ heart are both doing better after Sunday’s big win bumped BG’s all-time record in the series against Akron to 50-3.

No, that isn’t a misprint.

The Falcons have been that dominant through the years and they were that dominant again Sunday, thanks to some sharp-shooting by Jillian Halfhill, who hit four 3-pointers, and relentless rebounding by Erica Donovan.

With Alexis Rogers and Jill Stein, two other starters, spending about as much time on the bench as on the floor, someone else had to step up.

Matthews agreed that it was her best outing since the injury bug first bit.

“I’d say so,” she said. “Any of us can produce. We’re all confident shooters. We had some people [in foul trouble] on the bench and it was important to step up. I’m glad I could hit a few.”

Matthews is one of those glass-half-full people. She says sitting with injuries gave her “a chance to learn the game more and grow up” while the rehab made her stronger.

The rest-and-rehab combination is one of two options for treating the fractures, the other being what Roos called “a pretty gruesome surgery.”

This, agreed Roos, was Matthews’ “best effort since she has been back.”

The timing was perfect at both ends of the floor.

Akron brought two of the nation’s top-10 scorers — Rachel Tecca and Hanna Luburgh — to the Stroh Center and was coming off four straight games of scoring 83 or more points. The Zips’ dynamic duo was held 12 points under its combined average and Matthews scored 12. Add it all up and Akron didn’t surpass 50 points until less than six minutes remained while losing for the second time in three MAC starts.

BG, meanwhile, is rolling along at 13-2 and 3-0 in league play and the Falcons now have to be considered the MAC East favorite.

“Akron’s pretty good and in the conference you have to come to play every night,” said Matthews, who hit two 3-pointers in the latter stages of the game to discourage any Zip rallies.

“We did that. It was a huge win. But we’re not satisfied. We can’t be. It’s too early for that.”

Despite the history of the series, Roos felt it was Akron with the bull’s-eye on its back and hers that had something to prove.

“I think a team does one of three things,” BG’s coach said. “You step forward, you fall back, or you stay the same. I think we took a step forward.”

And, in the process, added even more depth to a talented, confident lineup.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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