Going into yesterday, it had been 43 games since Bowling Green State University lost by more than 10 points. So when the University of Toledo took a 12-point lead into halftime, withstanding a comeback was a main talking point for the Rockets.
"Bowling Green's too good to not make a run," UT coach Mark Ehlen said. "We talked to the team at halftime about answering their run. We really didn't [do that]."
The Falcons erased a 15-point deficit in the second half with sizzling shooting and hit key 3-pointers late in the game to outlast UT, 71-65 at Savage Hall.
BGSU improved to 18-2, continuing its unbeaten run in the Mid-American Conference at 9-0. The Rockets, playing arguably their best basketball of the season in the first half, fell to 8-11, 3-6.
Coming out of a timeout, the Falcons led by three points with 26 seconds left when Carin Horne made a 3-pointer in the corner. The Rockets had the chance to get it back to a one-possession game when freshman Diana Reindl made a layup and was fouled with 18 seconds to go. But Reindl missed the free throw and Liz Honegger grabbed the rebound.
Honegger led the Falcons with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Horne had 14 second-half points after a scoreless first period, and also grabbed five offensive rebounds.
"I tried to crash the boards a lot more and be more confident in my shot," Horne said.
Rocket junior Savannah Werner led all scorers with 20 points. Danielle Bishop added 18 but was in foul trouble in the second half.
The Falcons started the game 7-of-11 from the floor but went cold, finishing the first half 3-of-22. UT contained BGSU's post game on defense and the Falcons responded by heaving 3-pointers, at one point three in one possession.
"We were too perimeter-oriented," BGSU coach Curt Miller said. "Toledo played a mixture of defenses and they really had us on our heels. We were just settling for 3s."
Offensively for UT, Reindl, a freshman, made four of her first six shots. The Rockets finished the half on a 12-0 run with Werner scoring five points and Reindl four. It was the first time the Falcons trailed by double digits at any point in a game all season.
But UT had been in similar situations before and failed to hold a lead.
"Twenty minutes isn't going to win the ball game," Werner said.
The Rockets went up 15 early in the second when Bishop converted on a 3-point play. But the Falcons had pledged at halftime to play with more patience, among other things.
"We just had to come back out and be more aggressive," Honegger said. "I don't think we were ready from the tip, and we just had to come back out and match their intensity."
BGSU used a zone press that caused the Rockets to call a few timeouts and gave the momentum to the Falcons. And as badly as BGSU's shooters finished the first half, they were that good in the second half. The Falcons made 68 percent of their shots and were 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
"We held our composure," Honegger said. "We talked about trying to get it two by two, and dwindle their lead down."
With five minutes gone in the half BGSU had cut the lead to single digits, and with 7 1/2 minutes to play, Ali Mann gave the Falcons the lead on a 3-pointer at the top of the key. Casey McDowell also hit two open 3s in the final minutes.
"They hit a couple daggers, those 3s just killed us," Werner said.
After the close call, the Falcons are more than halfway to an undefeated conference season.
"You know as well as I do that they're thinking about an undefeated season," Miller said. "[But] we have to take one game at a time. The start has really helped them, we don't want to stop winning right now."
The Rockets were upbeat afterward, showing much improvement from a 28-point loss to Kent State last week.
"I'd be disappointed if we didn't play our best game against them," Ehlen said. "I think we gave them everything we had."
Contact Maureen Fulton at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6160.
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