BOWLING GREEN - Four Bowling Green State University women's basketball starters scored in double digits as the Falcons posted a 68-57 win over Madonna University on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 10). The game, the season opener for both teams, was held at the Stroh Center.
Saturday marked the first 'official' win in the head-coaching career of Jennifer Roos. Roos is in her first year at the BG helm after 11 seasons as an assistant on the Falcon staff (the last eight as associate head coach). She served as interim head coach for two games last season, guiding the Brown and Orange to a 2-0 mark.
Senior Allison Papenfuss had 13 points in her first collegiate start, while freshman Bailey Cairnduff had 12 points in her BGSU debut. Senior co-captains Danielle Havel and Chrissy Steffen each scored 11 points for the Brown and Orange.
Havel had a double-double, pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds, while Steffen just missed a double-double with nine boards. Steffen also had a game-high four assists on the afternoon.
Papenfuss had seven rebounds as BG enjoyed a 41-27 advantage in that category, and the senior had three blocked shots to lead all players.
Rachel Melcher had a game-high 17 points off the bench for the Crusaders, while Kaylee McGrath scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting. McGrath led the visitors with eight rebounds.
The Falcons took an early lead, as Papenfuss scored just 12 seconds into the contest. Moments later, back-to-back three-point field goals by Cairnduff put the hosts ahead by an 8-2 score, and after Heather Pratt countered with a triple for the visitors, Steffen put back a teammate's miss to begin a 7-0 run.
That run continued when junior Jillian Halfhill hit a driving banker, and freshman Miriam Justinger knocked down a three-pointer for a 15-5 BGSU lead. On the afternoon, Halfhill scored eight points and Justinger seven.
But, back came the Crusaders, as a Melcher layup began an 8-0 run. McGrath and Melcher each hit from beyond the arc, and BG's lead was down to two points.
Papenfuss took a pass from junior Jill Stein and hit a layup, but Melcher knocked down her second trey in a 32-second span, and McGrath's layup gave the visitors an 18-17 lead just over midway through the half.
Moments later, Shantelle Herring connected from long distance, and the Crusaders' lead was four points, at 23-19, with 8:30 left before the intermission.
BG rallied with eight-straight points, including a Cairnduff layup to put the hosts ahead by a 24-23 count. Junior Katrina Salinas followed with a triple for a four-point lead, but back came the visitors once again.
A tough jumper by McGrath was followed by Herring's steal and layup, and MU had a 29-27 lead heading into the final media timeout of the half. A pair of free throws by the Falcons, along with a Papenfuss jumper in the paint, gave the Brown and Orange a 31-29 advantage at the break.
Cairnduff paced the Falcons with nine points in the opening half, while Havel had nine rebounds as BG had a 25-11 first-half advantage on the glass.
In the second half, neither team scored until Kristie Porada hit a rainbow three with roughly two minutes gone, putting the Crusaders up by a point. Steffen and Halfhill each got to the line and drained two charity tosses apiece, giving the home team the lead for good. But, the outcome was far from decided.
Havel followed with a pair of free throws, and after a Melcher jumper, Havel took an inbounds pass from Halfhill and banked home an 'and-one' jumper, sinking the toss for a 42-34 lead with 15 minutes left.
Havel then got the ball inside to Papenfuss for a layup, and Steffen stole the ball from Porada and sailed in ahead of the pack for a layup and an 11-point lead, prompting MU coach Carl Graves to use a timeout.
Out of the timeout, Melcher hit a layup for the visitors, but Papenfuss answered by banking a shot home, and Cairnduff hit a second-chance three-pointer, and BG's lead was a game-high 14 points, 51-37, with 12:25 on the clock.
Slowly but surely, the Crusaders came back, as four-straight points cut the lead to 10. Justinger hit a jumper in the lane just before the shot-clock buzzer sounded, but a Michelle Lindsey layup was followed by a McGrath trey, and the visitors were within seven points.
BG's lead dwindled to six points on a Herring three-pointer with 6:30 remaining. But, Justinger found Havel for a layup to begin a 7-0 run for the hosts. That run continued with two Halfhill free throws, and culminated with Papenfuss driving the baseline and kicking the ball out to Steffen for a corner three. BGSU led by a 64-51 count with just over five minutes left, and the Crusaders would get no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
The Falcons shot 43.4 percent for the game, including an 11-for-22 effort in the second half. The hosts had an 18-7 advantage in second-chance points.
Havel had four steals as the Falcons had 11 as a team, although the home team turned the ball over 21 times to Madonna's 18 turnovers on the day.
The Falcons take to the road for the next four games, beginning with a Thursday night (Nov. 15) contest against Niagara. BG's next home contest is Wednesday, Nov. 28, vs. Temple.