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The Bowling Green women's basketball team looked to be down for the count against arch rival Toledo at Savage Hall last night.
The Rockets' Olivia Terry scored with just seven seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime. Then BG's Ali Mann, who had scored 19 of her team-high 22 points in the second half, fouled out midway through the extra period as Toledo was building a four-point lead.
But in a stunning turnaround the Falcons got off the canvas, scored the final seven points of the contest, and escaped with a 69-66 win.
"To have a 14-point lead in the first half, and a nine-point lead in the second half, and a four-point lead with two minutes to go in overtime and to lose all those leads, that's something that's distressing to me,'' said Toledo coach Mark Ehlen. "But that's something Bowling Green should be proud of. They were in a hostile environment, and they found a way to win.''
The Falcons' overtime comeback began when Liz Honegger drilled a 3-pointer to cut the Rockets' lead to one with 1:25 left. Then BG's Tene Lewis stole the ball in the open court and drove for a layup to give the Falcons a one-point lead with 1:04 to play.
Toledo turned the ball over on its next possession, and Bowling Green freshman Kate Achter's driving jumper with 14 seconds left sealed the win.
"It was our defense that allowed us to win this game,'' BG coach Curt Miller said.
The victory, combined with Northern Illinois' home loss to Marshall, vaulted Bowling Green into a first-place tie with Western Michigan in the MAC's West Division at 3-1. BG's fourth straight win over the Rockets also gave the Falcons back-to-back wins at Savage Hall for the first time in 16 seasons.
Meanwhile the Rockets fell to 6-9 overall and 2-2 in the MAC.
"It's always tough to lose a game like that, that you think you have [won],'' said Karin Hoogendam, who finished with game highs of 23 points and 11 rebounds. "At the same time, when you know you're up you need to build on that instead of having turnovers that they get points off of.''
The Rockets used a solid inside game to break out to a big early lead. Toledo used a 15-2 run midway through the first half to build a 26-12 advantage, and 10 of the points in that run came on shots taken in the paint.
"I thought they were hungrier [than we were],'' Miller said. "I thought they were more focused. They took it to us.''
Late in the half Bowling Green's defense produced three steals that resulted in break-away layups, and the Falcons cut the deficit to 28-23 at the break.
In the second half the contest turned into a scoring duel between Hoogendam and Mann. The UT senior scored 18 points in the second half, but the BG sophomore countered with 19.
Then the Falcon defense stepped up and BG, trailing by eight with 8:03 to play, did not allow the Rockets to score a field goal while taking a four-point lead with 1:42 left.
"Once we started cutting into the lead, it got our adrenaline going,'' Mann said. "It gave us a little energy. In the first half our shots weren't falling, and that made it tougher to play defense. Once we started making shots, the defense started clicking and we had more energy.''
But BG did not score in the final 1:42, and a pair of free throws by Toledo's Savannah Warner with 1:18 remaining set the stage for Terry's bucket that sent the game to overtime.
While Bowling Green was able to escape with the win, Ehlen still was upbeat about his team despite the loss.
"I told my team not to hang its heads because this is a game we coulda-shoulda-woulda won,'' he said. "But we grew up a little bit tonight, and that's what you take from this.''
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481.