Falcons Soar Past Michigan, 63-52, in Season Opener - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

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Falcons Soar Past Michigan, 63-52, in Season Opener

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The Bowling Green State University women's basketball team got the season started on a successful note, downing the University of Michigan by a 63-52 count on Friday afternoon (Nov. 8). The non-conference game, the season opener, was held at the Hynes Athletics Center on the campus of Iona College.

The game was also the opener of the Iona Tip-Off Tournament. The Falcons will face the host Gaels on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 9), with tipoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m. IC defeated the University of Arizona, 82-75 in overtime, in Friday's second game.

Senior Jillian Halfhill led the way for the Brown and Orange, with game-high totals of 18 points and five assists against the Wolverines. Halfhill went 4-of-8 from three-point range as the Falcons hit nine total shots from beyond the arc.

In her first game as a Falcon, redshirt sophomore Erica Donovan scored 15 points. Seniors Alexis Rogers and Jill Stein had seven points apiece in the win, with Stein pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds. The Falcons had a 35-30 advantage on the glass.

Sophomore Miriam Justinger had six points, as did junior Jasmine Matthews. Matthews, who was limited to just 13 games played a year ago, played 13 minutes on Friday and hit a pair of three-pointers.

Freshman Rachel Konieczki scored four points in the first game of her collegiate career.

The Falcons never trailed, and BGSU scored the first seven points of the game. Donovan passed the ball inside to Stein for a layup just nine seconds in, and BG had the lead for good.

After a turnover, Rogers hit a three-pointer, and the senior drove through traffic and converted a layup several minutes later. Nicole Elmblad scored five of the game's next six points, but a Donovan jumper off a Halfhill inbounds pass sparked a 10-0 run for the Brown and Orange.

Halfhill keyed that run, scoring the game's next eight points after assisting Donovan on the first two points of that stretch. The senior hit a driving layup, then knocked down a three-pointer after taking a pass from Donovan. Then, a Rogers cross-court pass led to another Halfhill triple, and the Falcons had an 18-5 lead with less than six minutes gone.

The Wolverines battled back, scoring the next eight points, as a pair of Siera Thompson treys were sandwiched around a Shannon Smith layup. Smith led U-M with 17 points, while Thompson (12) and Elmblad (10) joined her in double figures.

Stein stopped that run with a baseline jumper, off of a Konieczki pass, and Halfhill scored on a driving layup for a 22-13 lead. But, the Wolverines scored four-straight points, and U-M got as close as two points when Cyesha Goree scored at the 6:41 mark.

Donovan hit a corner three, but Elmblad answered with a three-point play. Two Donovan free throws, however, were followed by a Michigan five-second violation and a Konieczki triple, giving BG a 31-24 lead with just over four minutes left in the half.

Moments later, Justinger drove and kicked to Matthews for a three-pointer and a nine-point lead. Konieczki stole the ball from Val Driscoll, was fouled and split her free throws. A Stein charity toss gave BG an 11-point lead before the Wolverines scored the final three points of the period.

The Falcons shot 54.5 percent from the floor in the opening period, with that 12-for-22 effort including a 6-of-13 (46.2%) performance from three-point land. The BG defense allowed U-M to shoot only 37.9% from the field, including 3-of-12 from long distance.

The Wolverines would make only seven second-half buckets and shoot just 26.9% after the break. But, neither team could score in the early moments of the second period.

Finally, Smith knocked down a jumper with 17:50 to go, but Justinger stole Goree's outlet pass, drew Goree's fourth foul and hit one of two free throws. Then, Halfhill's corner three gave the Falcons a 40-30 lead.

Smith hit back-to-back buckets, but Justinger found Halfhill for another three, and the BG soph then came up with a pair of transition hoops.

First, Justinger stole the ball from Elmblad and headed in for an uncontested layup. Then, after a steal by Stein, Halfhill fired the ball to Justinger for another fast-break bucket, and the Falcons had a 47-34 lead with 13:47 to go.

U-M scored the next five points, including a trey by Smith. And, the Wolverines forced the Falcons into a 10-second violation. But, the Falcons held on defense, then Halfhill drove the lane and found Matthews for a three-pointer.

Halfhill went to the bench after being called for her fourth foul with 7:41 to go, but the Falcons did not let U-M cut into the lead. A Donovan jumper with exactly seven minutes left gave BG a 52-39 lead, and after the Wolverines made four free throws, Donovan hit another layup off of a Justinger bounce pass on a 3-on-1 break.

Michigan got back within eight points on a three-ball by Paige Rakers, but Rogers found Stein for a layup as the two worked in traffic. BG's lead was 10, at 56-46. Thompson hit a layup, but Donovan returned the favor at the other end. The Falcons forced a miss, and a Rogers hoop gave the Falcons a 60-48 lead. BG's lead never fell below double digits again.

For the game, the Falcons shot 47.8% from the floor, while holding Michigan to just a 32.7% success rate. Halfhill led all players with five assists as the Brown and Orange had 16 helpers on 22 baskets.

BGSU played without the services of senior #Katrina Salinas#, who suffered a serious knee injury in practice just prior to the Iona trip. It is believed to be a season-ending injury.