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Published: Wednesday, 3/7/2012

Dortch defensive player of year; Miller tabbed league's best coach

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The women's basketball programs at the University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University took home a large portion of the post-season honors announced by the Mid-American Conference Tuesday.

Curt Miller. Curt Miller.
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The Falcons had three players earn All-MAC honors as Alexis Rogers was selected for the first team while Jessica Slagle and Chrissy Steffen earned berths on the second team. BG coach Curt Miller was voted coach of the year, while Jasmine Matthews was named to the all-freshman team.

The Rockets had three players get All-MAC honors.

Andola Dortch and Yolanda Richardson were named to the second team, while Courtney Ingersoll earned a spot on the third team while Dortch was named the league's defensive player of the year.

Dortch, who is the first Rocket to receive the defensive player of the year nod, made at least three steals in 10 games this season and ranks 10th in the MAC in that category with 1.9 per game. A sophomore from Akron, she also ranks third in the MAC in assists (4.3) and is seventh in scoring (13.1).

"I pride myself on defense," she said. "That's one of the first things I learned about basketball.

"I'm thankful that everyone voted for me to get it. Really, [defense] is just something I love to do."

Ingersoll called Dortch "the most deserving player in the league" of the defensive honor.

"A lot of people don't see the work she puts in during practice," Ingersoll said. "She has tired legs and coming back from two ACL surgeries, she's definitely the most deserving player in the league.

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"She's quick, obviously, she gets up and pressures. … She has a fire in her eyes. She steps up to the challenge. She knows whether it's [Miami's Courtney] Osborn or Slagle from BG or [Buffalo's Brittney] Hedderson, whoever it is around the league, she's just so competitive that she wants that challenge."

For Bowling Green's Miller, this marked the sixth time in 11 seasons he was named coach of the year after receiving that honor five straight times from 2005 to 2009.

Miller led the Falcons to a 24-5 record, the school's ninth consecutive season with at least 20 victories. BG won its seventh regular-season title in the last eight years under Miller with a 14-2 mark despite graduating six players who averaged nearly 5,500 points, 2,400 rebounds, and 1,000 assists in their careers.

"I am excited and humbled to be chosen by my peers and by the media for this award," Miller said. "I believe any type of coaching accolades are a product of team success, so the team deserves credit for this award. As do my assistant coaches, who did a remarkable job of keeping a young and inexperienced team together.

"This was a very special year, because we lost a lot to graduation and the expectations were not as huge as in past seasons."

Miller's top player, according to the MAC coaches who voted on the honor, was Rogers, a sophomore forward from West Chester, Ohio. She averaged 12.3 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds and upped those averages to 15.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per contest in MAC play.

Rogers, a transfer from Duke who has recorded nine double-doubles this season, including seven in 16 MAC games, gives the Falcons an All-MAC first team performer for the seventh consecutive season.

"Alexis didn't play much as a freshman at Duke and sat out as a transfer last season," Miller said. "The difference between the tempo of practice and the speed of games is so different, but once she got comfortable she really took off.

"Even on nights when she didn't score a lot of points, she had an impact for us with her defense and her rebounding, and she really grew in those areas throughout the year."

BG's Slagle, a senior guard from Sidney, Ohio, ranks third on the team in scoring with 11.8 points per game and also leads the team in assists with 2.4. She ranks ninth in the MAC in free throw percentage, making 74.5 percent of her shots.

Her teammate Steffen is a junior guard from Carmel, Ind., who leads the Falcons in scoring with 13.2 points per game. She also leads BG in 3-pointers made (48, or 1.7 per game to rank 10th in the MAC) and is 10th in the league in 3-point percentage with a 73.2 percent mark.

UT's Richardson, a junior who graduated from Start High School, averaged 10.2 points and 6.5 rebounds while leading the league with 2.2 blocks per contest. She scored in double figures in 11 of 16 MAC games and averaged 11.8 points, a league-best 2.9 blocks, and a team-best 8.1 rebounds along with 1.9 assists in conference contests.

Her teammate Ingersoll, a senior from Massillon, Ohio, leads all NCAA Division I players in 3-point field-goal percentage by making 43.8 percent from behind the arc. For the year she averaged 11.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.8 steals and ranked among the conference leaders in 3-pointers made (2.8).

BG's Matthews, a native of Matteson, Ill., earned her spot on the all-freshman team by averaging 6.7 points per game, fourth on the squad, and ranking second on the team with 45 3-pointers made. She is just the 11th BG player named to the all-freshman team and the first since Lauren Prochaska earned that honor (as well as MAC freshman of the year) in 2008.

"She has been our most consistent 3-pointer shooter and our go-to defender on the wing," Miller said of Matthews. "Often she was assigned to guard the other team's best defender, and she not only accepted that role, she thrived in that role.

"She has a bright future, and there is so much more in her game that we have seen in practice, and we look forward to seeing in games."

Blade sports writer Ryan Autullo contributed to this story.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.



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