BOWLING GREEN - A team desperate for a win ran into a team dealing with a major loss here yesterday.
After they sorted it all out Bowling Green State University, led by Francine Miller's 23 points, took a 66-62 win over rival University of Toledo in Mid-American Conference women's basketball.
BG had lost four straight and six of its last seven, including an embarrassing 42-30 defeat at Central Michigan on Wednesday in which the Falcons made only 3 of 30 3-point attempts.
The Falcons (10-10, 3-6 MAC) made 10 of 25 from long range yesterday, including several down the stretch that helped them hang on against the Rockets (15-6, 8-2).
“They shot the ball extremely well,” UT coach Mark Ehlen said, “and I knew after their last game that they'd come back. The law of averages was in their favor. And I don't think we covered their 3s very well at all today.”
The Rockets had won seven straight games, a streak that had started in mid-January with a 70-62 win over the Falcons at Savage Hall. Yesterday was Toledo's first game without senior Tia Davis, who injured her knee in a win over Western Michigan on Wednesday and is out for the season. Davis was leading the Rockets in scoring (18.1 points per game) and rebounding (7.1) so losing her was a tremendous blow.
“It took us out of automatic,” Ehlen said, “and we were in a pretty good automatic. We were really playing great basketball. But I'm not making excuses for this game, because Bowling Green beat us. It was difficult for us, but that doesn't take anything away from what Bowling Green did.”
After being on top 30-27 at the half, the Falcons had opened up a 42-35 lead with about 14 minutes left in the game after a 3-pointer from the wing by Stephanie Wenzel. Toledo made a surge and scored eight straight points, a run that was capped when Karin Hoogendam hit inside to give the Rockets the lead for the final time with 10:25 left.
Hoogendam led Toledo with 17 points and eight rebounds, while senior Teresa Kahle had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Kelly Walker added 16 points.
The game was tight the rest of the way, with BG's biggest lead coming at just under two minutes to play when Francine Miller drove through traffic for a layup that made it 62-55.
“Today we were really focused on playing well so we can get on some kind of roll,” the senior from Kalida said. “It seemed like we had been stuck on nine wins forever, and we're just ecstatic we were able to come out with a win against Toledo.”
After Miller's basket, Toledo freshman Crystal Young hit a layup, and then drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to cut it to 62-60 with 30 seconds remaining.
Kim Griech, who finished with 13 points, hit four free throws in the last half minute to give the Falcons some room, but it was her steal of Young's pass with 20 seconds to play that likely sealed it.
Young is one of several freshman who Ehlen expects will see more playing time in critical junctures following the loss of Davis from the lineup.
“We had some possibilities there at the end, but we obviously did panic a little bit,” Ehlen said. “The silver lining out of all of this is that we had a couple freshmen play more minutes today than they've played in a long time, and that's going to help us down the stretch.”
BG coach Curt Miller, who beat Toledo for the first time, was pleased to see his team shake the shooting woes that had haunted it against Central Michigan.
“What a week it's been,” Miller said. “They say you can't really experience success until you hit rock bottom, and Wednesday night was rock bottom for our program when we went 3-for-30. We live and die by the 3-pointer, so we knew we'd have to step up and make them today.”
Francine Miller went 9-of-17 from the field and added five rebounds.
“You saw the spark back in Francine Miller's eye today,” the BG coach said. “She wanted the ball and she demanded the ball. We haven't had as much team success as Toledo, but I'm really happy for our four seniors since they were able to beat Toledo in their last game against them.”
Lindsay Austin tallied 10 points for BG. Sophomore Tene Lewis did not score but had six assists, three steals and seven rebounds, including a couple of offensive rebounds in the tense final minutes.