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Monday, December 22, 2014
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Published: Monday, 2/3/2014 - Updated: 10 months ago

COMMENTARY

Falcons dial long distance to pick up win

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Bowling Green’s women were frustrated in the first half Sunday at Savage Arena, frustrated by their execution, frustrated by Toledo’s defense, frustrated by 24 percent shooting, frustrated by spotty officiating.

Jennifer Roos, the Falcons’ coach, could tell by her players’ body language, that dull eye contact, that little slump of the shoulders.

You could tell, she said, because the Falcons were “looking for magic plays that produce five points or seven points. We don’t have any of those.”

The basketball gods have provided for a three-point play and it was there, beyond the arc, that BG found the key to a 66-59 victory.

The Falcons made 9 of 26 treys, including a scorching 7 of 11 in the second half.

Toledo coach Tricia Cullop, who called her players out after a sleep-walking, 20-point home loss against Akron on Thursday, got a much better effort Sunday.

It didn’t do much for the Rockets’ shooting, which included a 1-for-15 effort from behind the 3-point line.

Allow us to do the math for you. BG outscored Toledo 27-3 from long distance, including a 21-0 differential in the decisive second half, during which the Falcons produced 46 points.

Despite their best efforts — Brianna “Crunch” Jones was especially impressive off the bench with 12 points and seven rebounds — the Rockets couldn’t offset all those 3s.

Crunch also did a nice job helping inside on defense, cutting across the key to stymie Alexis Rogers as UT took a 21-20 halftime lead.

BG has twice as many wins as Toledo, 18-3 now vs. 9-11, because the Falcons are the better team. That is because they have a better collection of players and most certainly better shooters.

Rogers, 6-foot-1 and a fifth-year senior who once upon a time transferred to BG from Duke, is the very best of them.

So how did she offset her early problems? BG ran sets that gave Rogers touches at the top of the key.

Once she got into a rhythm, said Roos, that’s where she wanted the ball.

She buried it, making three of her four attempts from behind the arc in the second half. Rogers finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds. She apparently did it despite some pain since she sported a boot on her left foot after playing 37 of the 40 minutes. Neither she nor Roos went into any detail about an injury with Rogers suggesting she was simply making a fashion statement, but BG’s coach said “it’s not new.”

Her long-distance prowess was. Rogers was shooting 29 percent on 34 triple attempts before Sunday.

“In the paint I was getting double-teamed and it wasn’t quite working,” said Rogers, who added that her second-half explosion from the perimeter was run “within the offense. The 3s are a big part of our game so I just shot it from there.”

UT’s Jones wasn’t a bit surprised, saying of Rogers: “You have to respect her inside and outside. She’s an incredible player.” Cullop wrote it off to a “great player stepping up in great moments. She’s one of the top three players in the league and she took advantage of what we gave her.”

The 3-point shooting is a big part of BG’s attack thanks also to Deborah Hoekstra, a prime candidate for the MAC’s sixth-man award this season. She scored all 12 of her points on treys.

Hoekstra is one of Rogers’ roomies and Rogers admitted, “I don’t know that I could compete with her in a shootout.”

The Rockets surely could not.

That 1-for-15 effort followed a 3-for-26 whiff from beyond the arc against Akron.

There was no reason this time to question the Rockets’ hearts.

Only their hands and eyes.

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



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