BOWLING GREEN — Last year, Western Michigan beat the Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team once before giving the Falcons a scare at the Mid-American Conference tournament.
In the first half Wednesday it seemed the Broncos were going to pin another loss on BG at the Stroh Center.
The Falcons blew out WMU in the second half, outscoring the Broncos 18-2 to start the period and 40-20 overall to claim a 72-50 victory.
The keys were red-hot shooting, especially from behind the 3-point arc, and a strong rebounding effort that allowed BG to win its fifth in a row.
Jillian Halfhill scored a season-high 22 points to lead the Falcons (19-3, 9-1 MAC), while Alexis Rogers scored 16 and Erica Donovan 12.
Miracle Woods posted 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead Western Michigan (9-12, 5-5). Northview High School product Jessica Jessing scored 11 while A.J. Johnson added 10 for the Broncos.
Bowling Green led 32-30 before exploding to start the second half.
The Falcons made their first four shots for an 11-0 start in the first three minutes, and after a WMU basket the Falcons scored seven more to lead 50-32 with 14:11 left.
“We talked about making shots [at halftime],” Falcons coach Jennifer Roos said. “We had multiple missed [easy] shots in the first half, and watching both games [against Western Michigan last year] we had 17 missed layups Kalamazoo and multiple misses in the MAC tournament. …
“We needed to snap out of it.”
Bowling Green made 4-of-5 3-pointers to start the second half, continuing a strong 6-for-11 first-half effort from behind the arc.
“Shooting is contagious: When someone makes a 3, everyone is going to make them,” Halfhill said. “When someone starts out shooting well, our whole team feels confident.”
Halfhill was the one who provided the confidence, making 4-of-6 3s in the first half and 6-of-9 in the game.
“They were going under [ball screens] in the first half, so I saw some openings. And I shot it,” she said. “And I took advantage of the looks I got.”
Roos said Halfhill was, “In a zone. It looked good every time she released it. So we tried to call her number a handful of shots.
“When she was feeling it, we couldn’t call her number enough.”
Rogers also responded when her number was called in the second half. After scoring just two points in the first period, she made 4-of-5 to start the second, including both 3-pointers, and had 10 of BG’s 18 points in the game-deciding run.
“When one of your best players isn’t shooting well, you have to go to her because once she makes her first shot, she’s going to get going,” Halfhill said. “We fed her to the ball to get her going.”
Meanwhile Western Michigan made just one of its first 11 second-half shots, and BG outrebounded the Broncos 24-14 in that period.
“There were multiple possessions in the first half where they got offensive rebounds, and we were playing defense for 60 to 70 seconds — and that’s a long time,” Roos said.
NOTE: After the game Roos said freshmen Leah Bolton and Kennedy Kirkpatrick probably will redshirt, although no official decision has been reached. Bolton is dealing with a knee injury and Kirkpatrick is having hip problems. ... Senior Katrina Salinas will redshirt after suffering a pre-season ACL injury.