CLEVELAND - Bowling Green coach Curt Miller stood on the court during yesterday's Mid-American Conference tournament awards ceremony at Quicken Loans Arena fully expecting Carin Horne to be announced as the event's most valuable player.
Horne didn't even make the all-tournament team. But she should have.
As is usually the case on a team stocked with Ali Mann, Liz Honegger and Kate Achter, Horne was an afterthought.
Until, that is, someone looked at the box score.
BG became the winningest team in MAC history - No. 28 on the season - with a 64-39 romp past Kent State. Horne, a 5-foot-10 junior from Lima, led the Falcons in scoring with 16 points and in rebounding with nine.
"I really thought she'd be the MVP," Miller said. "She's an unbelievable player. She's so tough, play after play after play."
The key to BG's easy win was defense and rebounding. The Falcons ran up a 41-23 edge in the latter.
"We all just really wanted to win," Horne said. "Coach said rebounding, especially offensive rebounds, would be huge. So that's what I really focused on."
But she laughed when asked why the all-tournament voters weren't focused on her.
"I'm fortunate to be surrounded by such great teammates," Horne said. "They do everything else and I just pick up the scrap plays. I'm content with that."
In truth, Horne does more than collect scraps. She stepped out on the perimeter and made 2-of-4 shots from 3-point range yesterday. That gave her 46 from long distance this season.
She entered yesterday's game averaging 11.7 points.
"We run fewer plays for Carin than anybody, bar none, and she's still a double-figure scorer," Miller said. "She never complains. She plays her role and doesn't worry about anything else. I still think there will be a day when she's our leading scorer. That day will come when I become smart enough to run more plays for her."
ALL-TOURNEY: Horne didn't make the all-tournament team, but three Falcons did, including MVP Mann.
Honegger and Achter joined her on an all-star squad that included Kent State's Lindsay Shearer and Ryan Coleman of Eastern Michigan.
Mann earned top honors after scoring 40 points and grabbing 31 rebounds in BG's three tournament wins.
"Every single person on this team stepped up," said Mann, a 6-foot-1 junior from Chelsea, Mich. "It was a team win all the way. They could have handed that award to any of us."
THE FUTURE: Kent coach Bob Lindsay said that "if a team is going to beat Bowling Green, it would have to play at a high level, its highest level, for 40 minutes. I'm not sure there's a team in the conference capable of doing that."
And that might not change for a while.
The Falcons, who finished 19-0 against MAC opponents and head to the NCAA tournament with a 28-2 mark, did not start a single senior yesterday.
BG has just two seniors - guard Casey McDowell and center Jill Lause - and only McDowell gets much playing time. She scored five points in 25 minutes of court time against Kent while Lause got a late curtain call yesterday and delighted the BG supporters among a crowd of 4,519 with her sixth basket of the year.
MOST TITLES: The Falcons entered yesterday's game tied with rival Toledo for most MAC tournament titles. Now BG is alone at the top with its eighth win in nine trips to the title game.42.7316 25.48311