BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University women’s basketball will put its 2-1 record against Big Ten opponents on the line today when it plays the University of Michigan.
The Falcons host the Wolverines at 7 p.m., and the winner of this third-round Women’s NIT contest will advance to quarterfinals of the tournament. The winner will face either Rutgers or Seton Hall, with the date and site of that contest to be announced.
Bowling Green coach Jennifer Roos realizes the importance of a contest that will see a Big Ten team play in the Stroh Center for just the second time in the three-year-old building’s history.
“Any time you can get a BCS school into the Stroh Center, it’s a big deal,” Roos said. “It’s difficult to do when you schedule two years in advance.
“I believe we’re fortunate to bring this team in here.”
The Falcons already have beaten Michigan this season and also have won at Ohio State while losing on the road to nationally ranked Purdue.
The Wolverines enter the contest with a 20-13 record but have won two straight WNIT games at home to balance a streak of seven losses in the team’s final 11 games before the tournament.
Junior guard Shannon Smith leads Michigan in scoring with 14.0 points per game and is one of four players in double figures. The other double-digit scorers for UM are freshman guard Siera Thompson (13.3 points), junior forward Cyesha Goree (12.1 points and team-high 9.4 rebounds), and junior guard Nicole Elmblad (11.3 points).
“[Coach] Kim Barnes Arico has done a fantastic job with that team,” Roos said. “She has them rolling; they are playing their best basketball at the end of the season.”
The Falcons will counter with a balanced scoring attack of their own.
Seniors Alexis Rogers (14.3 points) and Jillian Halfhill (13.2 points) lead the team in scoring, while sophomore Erica Donovan averages 11.2 points per game.
Seven BG players average more than six points per game.
“We have nine kids eligible to play, and we’ve had six of them be our leading scorer [at least once] this season,” Roos said. “If somebody doesn’t have it one night, we have good balance so that someone else can step up and put the ball in the basket.”
Donovan said the importance of the game stems more from its status as a WNIT game than it does the opponent.
“In order for us to advance, we have to beat the team we’re playing,” she said.
“We have to focus on getting better, because that will help us to advance.”