BOWLING GREEN – The Bowling Green State University women's basketball team shot nearly 67 percent from the field in the second half, breaking open a close game en route to an 84-59 win over Central Michigan University Sunday afternoon (Feb. 3). The Mid-American Conference game was held at the Stroh Center.
With the win, the Falcons improve to 14-7 overall, and BGSU is now 5-3 in MAC action. The Chippewas, now 13-8 overall, fall for the first time in conference play. CMU is now 7-1 in league games.
Senior Chrissy Steffen scored a game-high 19 points, pacing four double-digit scorers for the Brown and Orange. Junior Jillian Halfhill and freshman Bailey Cairnduff scored 14 points apiece, while redshirt junior Alexis Rogers had 13.
Crystal Bradford and Brandie Baker had 14 points apiece for Central Michigan. The Chippewas had entered the game ranked 11th in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 76.1 points per game.
Leading by four points at the half, the Falcons spotted the Chippewas the first two points of the second period, on a Bradford steal and layup. Then, however, BGSU proceeded to score the next 11 points, including back-to-back 'and-one' buckets. A Rogers three-point play was followed by a Steffen four-point play, and when Halfhill hit a jumper at the 16:36 mark, BG's lead was 13 points, at 45-32. The margin never dropped to single digits again.
The Falcons made 18-of-27 shots from the field in the second period, good for a 66.7% success rate. BGSU went 7-of-10 from three-point land in the second half en route to a 10-of-18 effort for the game (55.6%).
In fact, the Falcons made six consecutive three-point tries to end the game. Five of those treys came in the span of less than three minutes midway through the second half, and four of those five triples came from the BG bench, as Cairnduff and junior Katrina Salinas hit two apiece during that time.
Cairnduff's two shots came on back-to-back possessions, capping a stellar shooting day for the Morley, Mich., native. Cairnduff was a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point range, while Salinas made both of her long-distance tries.
The Falcons forced the Chippewas into 21 turnovers, and BGSU had a 20-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
The score was tied three times on Sunday, at 2-2, 4-4 and 6-6. Steffen scored the Falcons' first points of the game, but the Chippewas countered with a pair of jumpers just 28 seconds apart. Halfhill's long pass led to a Steffen layup in transition, and after Jessica Schroll answered for the visitors, Halfhill hit a nifty layup while drawing contact. The junior's free throw gave the Falcons a 7-6 lead.
After a steal by Steffen, Halfhill scored again, grabbing her own miss and laying the ball back up and in. The Chippewas got a Schroll free throw, and Bradford hit a three-pointer on her first offensive possession of the day, giving the Chippewas a 10-9 lead. Steffen responded with a three-point play around the first media timeout of the day. The Falcons would not trail again.
Havel worked inside against Schroll and got a layup, then came up with a steal on Central's ensuing possession. Halfhill fired the ball ahead to freshman Miriam Justinger for a layup and a 16-10 lead.
Schroll quickly answered with a three-pointer to cut BG's lead in half, and several minutes later, Jessica Green's layup got the visitors within a single point. But, junior Jill Stein drove the baseline and fired a pass to Cairnduff in the right corner, and the freshman's three-point try was on target, putting the Falcons on top, 19-15.
Stein had the assist on each of Cairnduff's first three triples of the game.
Cairnduff's trey began an 8-0 run for the Falcons, with Steffen playing a key role in that run. After a CMU miss, Steffen came up with the rebound, and BG's next trip down the floor saw the senior take a pass from Salinas and knock down a shot from beyond the arc. Then, Steffen stole the ball from Green near midcourt and sailed in for an uncontested layup and a 24-15 BG lead with 8:41 left in the half.
Taylor Johnson answered with a three-pointer for the Chippewas, but for the second time in just over two minutes, Stein drove the baseline and whipped a pass to Cairnduff in the corner. Again, the freshman was on target, and BGSU had a 27-18 lead with just under eight minutes left in the period.
Slowly but surely, Central rallied back. Baker hit a layup, and Bradford came up with an offensive board and a putback. Another Baker hoop in the paint was followed by a BG turnover and a layup by Green, and suddenly, the Falcons' lead was just 27-26.
Senior Danielle Havel split a pair of free throws, then slipped her defender to score off of a Steffen lob inside, giving BG a 30-26 lead with 1:26 to go before halftime.
Baker hit a jumper for the visitors, but Rogers answered for the Falcons with a pull-up jumper just before the shot clock expired. Schroll responded with a jumper from the left baseline, but Cairnduff was fouled with just 1.6 seconds to go, and drained both free throws for a 34-30 halftime advantage.
The Falcons shot 44.8% from the floor in the opening half, while CMU was 13-of-27 from the field (48.1%). Central, however, had 13 first-half turnovers to BG's eight.
Bradford opened the scoring in the second half, stealing the ball and converting an athletic finger-roll layup to cut the BG lead in half. But, the Brown and Orange then scored 11-straight points.
Rogers scored in the lane, then took an inbound pass from Halfhill and scored again while drawing a foul. The ensuing free throw was good, and BG's lead was 39-32 with just under two minutes gone in the period.
Just over a minute later, Steffen took a pass from Halfhill and fired a three-point try from the right wing, just in front of head coach Jennifer Roos. The whistle blew, indicating a foul on the Chippewas, just a split-second before the ball nestled in the netting. Steffen completed the four-point play with a charity toss at the 17:05 mark, and the lead was double digits for the first time.
Then, Justinger stole the ball from Bradford, and the next possession saw Halfhill hit a jumper in the lane to give BG a 45-32 advantage as the Chippewas used a timeout.
Baker's layup was followed by a transition layup for the Falcons, as Justinger found Rogers with a bounce pass on a 2-on-1. Bradford split a pair of free throws, and Baker hit another layup. But, Justinger's three-pointer at the 10:43 mark began a scoring flurry at both ends of the court, and gave the Brown and Orange a 52-37 lead.
Beginning with that Justinger three, the Falcons scored 17 points in the span of just 3:08, going 6-of-6 from the floor, including five shots from long distance. Central got 12 points in that time, though, to keep the home team from pulling away.
After the Justinger trey, Jas'Mine Bracey made a pair of free throws for the visitors. But, Salinas took a Steffen pass and hit a straightaway three-pointer from well beyond the arc. After a turnover, Stein's baseline, cross-court pass found Cairnduff, and the freshman's long-range shot from the corner gave the Falcons a 58-39 lead.
Seconds later, Cairnduff was at it again. After Central got a putback, Steffen's pass found Cairnduff for her second three-pointer in under 50 seconds.
Bradford responded with a three, but Salinas drove right down Main Street for a layup. After a Baker jumper, Havel hit Salinas for another BG long-distance connection and a 66-46 lead with 7:37 remaining. Bradford answered with another triple, but a Justinger run-out began a 6-0 BG run that increased the home team's advantage to 23 points.
That Justinger layup was followed by layups from Havel and Halfhill, as the Falcons got multiple good looks inside during this stretch of the second half. Another Baker layup was answered by Halfhill's three-point play, and after Green knocked down a jumper, Halfhill got to the line and hit a pair of shots for a 77-53 lead with three-and-a-half minutes to go.
Steffen connected on one more BG three-pointer, and Rogers hit two free throws with 2:01 remaining. Sophomore Deborah Hoekstra got an offensive rebound and putback in traffic with 11 seconds left, before CMU's Jordan LaDuke closed the scoring with a triple.
Steffen was 7-of-11 from the field on the day, including a 3-for-5 effort from three-point range. Rogers and Halfhill combined to go 10-of-18 from the floor, with each player making five field goals, while Cairnduff's 4-for-6 effort included that perfect 4-of-4 long-distance effort. The freshman's four three-pointers made was a career best, and matched a BGSU season high.
Salinas had eight points on perfect 3-of-3 shooting, including a pair of shots from beyond the arc, while Havel and Justinger scored seven points each.
The Falcons outrebounded Central, 19-14, in the second half, as the teams pulled down 32 boards apiece for the game. Halfhill led the Brown and Orange with seven rebounds, with Steffen coming up with six and Rogers five.
BG had 19 assists on a season-high 31 buckets, with four players dishing out at least three apiece. Halfhill led the way with five, while Justinger and Steffen had four each and Stein three. For both Justinger and Stein, those totals represented career highs.
BGSU now hits the road for the next three games, beginning with a Thursday (Feb. 7) contest at Buffalo. Following trips to Western Michigan (Feb. 10) and Northern Illinois (Feb. 16), the Falcons will return home for a Feb. 20 game vs. Akron.