YPSILANTI – Freshman Bailey Cairnduff had a career-high 18 points, and the Bowling Green State University women's basketball team enjoyed huge advantages in the rebounding and free-throw categories on Sunday afternoon (Jan. 27). It all added up to a 61-47 win over Eastern Michigan University in Mid-American Conference action at the Convocation Center.
With the win, the Falcons improve to 13-6 overall and 4-2 in MAC play. The host Eagles drop to 4-15 and 2-4, respectively.
Cairnduff went 5-of-9 from the field, including a 2-for-4 performance from three-point land, and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. As a team, the Falcons made 21-of-27 shots from the stripe (77.8%).
BGSU made eight more free throws than Eastern Michigan attempted. The Eagles were 7-of-13 from the line. Additionally, the Falcons had a 42-24 advantage on the glass, including 14 offensive boards.
Senior Chrissy Steffen and redshirt junior Alexis Rogers joined Cairnduff in double digits in the scoring column. Steffen had 12 points in the win, while Rogers added 11.
For the Eagles, Bianca Cage had 15 points off the bench, and Natachia Watkins scored 14 points on the day.
Cairnduff's previous career high was 12 points, which came in her collegiate debut, against Madonna at the Stroh Center (Nov. 10, 2012). Her top scoring total in MAC games had been seven points in Thursday's (Jan. 24) game vs. Miami, but she had eight points in the first half vs. EMU, and 10 more in the second.
Cairnduff, a native of Morley, Mich., has averaged 15.0 points per game in the first two games of her career against teams from her home state.
The Falcons led from wire to wire on Sunday, scoring the game's first eight points. When Rogers hit a pair of free throws with 8:17 left before halftime, the BGSU lead was double digits for good.
BGSU's first possession of the game saw Steffen find an open Miriam Justinger on the left wing, and the freshman knocked down a three-point try with just 34 seconds elapsed. Senior Danielle Havel, who led all players with nine rebounds in the win, grabbed an offensive rebound, went under the basket and converted a nifty reverse layup.
Junior Jillian Halfhill drove across the lane and kicked the ball out to Steffen for a long-distance shot, and Steffen's triple gave the Falcons an 8-0 lead with just over three minutes gone. India Hairston got the hosts on the scoreboard with a foul-line jumper, but Havel pounded the ball inside to Rogers for an 'and-one' layup. Out of the game's first media timeout, Rogers completed the three-point play for an 11-2 BG advantage. Then, Havel's step-back jumper gave BG a double-digit lead.
The Eagles responded with a pair of layups, and after two Halfhill free throws, a three-pointer by Cage cut the Falcons' lead to just six points, at 15-9.
Rogers, who had checked out of the game after picking up her second foul at the 15:14 mark, returned to the court, drew a foul and hit both ends of a one-and-one opportunity with 10:51 left before halftime. Chelsea Hite answered with a jumper but junior Jill Stein drove down the middle and hit a layup in traffic, giving the Falcons a 19-11 lead midway through the half.
Rogers grabbed a defensive rebound, was fouled and hit two more free throws. Then, Cairnduff went to the floor to steal the ball from Hairston, was fouled in the pileup and knocked down a pair of shots from the stripe. BGSU's lead was 12 points, at 23-11.
Several minutes later, a marathon BG possession saw the Falcons get no fewer than four offensive rebounds, and culminated with a long two-pointer by Rogers. That possession lasted for a total of 85 seconds.
A much shorter possession began seconds later, when Rogers came up with a rebound after an EMU miss. BG quickly headed the other way, and Cairnduff was fouled on a layup try. Her free throws gave the Falcons a 27-13 lead with 4:14 left in the half.
After an Eastern bucket, Cairnduff responded with a pull-up jumper with the Falcons out and running once again. After a steal by sophomore Deborah Hoekstra, Stein's layup with 2:08 on the clock gave the Falcons a 31-15 lead.
Cairnduff scored another hoop before the half, as Havel found the freshman cutting down the lane, and Cairnduff pulled up and knocked down another shot. A Watkins jumper cut the Falcons' lead to 33-18 at the break.
BGSU had a 25-10 rebounding advantage in the opening half. The Falcons made 11-of-12 free-throw tries in that first 20 minutes, while the Eagles were just 1-of-4 at the line.
Just 10 seconds into the second half, Rogers was whistled for her third foul. But, the junior stayed in the game, took a pass from Justinger and hit a jumper as the shot-clock horn sounded. BG got the ball right back, and on an entry pass to Rogers, Hairston was called for her fourth foul of the game with 18:45 remaining.
After the Falcons took a 36-20 lead on a Justinger free throw, the Eagles got four-straight points to creep back within 12. But, Cairnduff got herself to the line and made a pair of shots, and Stein's pass to Steffen resulted in a layup by the senior, and a 40-24 BG lead with 12 minutes remaining.
The Eagles, however, would not go away, as a steal and layup by Watkins cut the margin to 13. Then, Hairston scored inside, and BG was up by just a 40-29 score. But, Cairnduff answered with a three-pointer, and after the Falcons got the ball back, Hairston picked up her fifth foul with 10:08 remaining.
Steffen's putback gave the Falcons a 45-29 lead, and Halfhill answered two Cage free throws with two shots of her own. But, a Cage three-pointer was followed by a Watkins jumper that bounced around and in, and the Falcons' lead was down to 11 points with 8:33 left.
Three free throws by the Falcons increased that lead to 14, and after another Watkins bucket, Cairnduff hit a shot from just inside the arc for a 52-38 BG margin. Moments later, the freshman connected again, this time from behind the three-point line, and the Falcons' lead was 17 points with just over five minutes to go.
After Cage answered with a three-ball, Steffen ran the floor ahead of the pack, gathered in a long pass from Halfhill and hit a layup as she was knocked to the ground. The ensuing free throw gave the Falcons a 58-42 lead with 4:11 remaining. Eastern would cut the lead to 12 points with 95 seconds left, as a Desyree Thomas three-point play made the score 59-47, but the hosts would not score again.
Havel had five points and a team-high four assists in addition to her nine rebounds on Sunday. She has had 19 boards and eight assists over the last two games. Stein also had five points vs. the Eagles, along with seven rebounds.
Cairnduff becomes the 10th different player to lead the Falcons in scoring in at least one game this season. She is averaging 4.3 points per game on the season, but has averaged 6.8 ppg in MAC play. The freshman has averaged 10.0 ppg over the last three contests, and 12.5 ppg in last week's two games.
In addition to points, Cairnduff set new career bests in field goals made (5) and free throws made and attempted (6-6) vs. the Eagles.
The Falcons will return to the road to close the month of January, heading to Northeast Ohio for a Thursday (Jan. 31) matchup with The University of Akron.