Falcons roll to 90-58 win in home opener - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

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Falcons roll to 90-58 win in home opener

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Redshirt sophomore Erica Donovan had a game-high 20 points, pacing five Bowling Green State University double-digit scorers, as the women's basketball Falcons rolled to a 90-58 win over Niagara University Friday evening (Nov. 15). The non-conference game was held at the Stroh Center.

With the win, the Falcons improve to 3-0 on the year, while dropping the Purple Eagles to 0-2.

Donovan's point total set a new career best.

Junior Deborah Hoekstra had 15 points in the win, also setting a new career standard, while senior Jillian Halfhill chipped in with 13 points. Freshman Rachel Konieczki scored 11 points, the most of her brief BGSU career, while junior Jasmine Matthews rounded out the BG double-digit scorers with 10 points.

The Falcons more than doubled up the visitors on the boards, with 49 rebounds to Niagara's 23. BG had 20 offensive boards, leading to a 23-2 advantage in second-chance points. Senior Jill Stein had a game-high 11 rebounds, including four offensive boards, while six of Donovan's seven total rebounds came at the offensive end of the floor.

The Falcons also made 30 free throws in 41 attempts on the night, as a total of 48 fouls were called in the game. NU went 18-of-21 from the stripe.

BGSU never trailed in Friday's game, going on an 8-0 run after an early 2-2 tie to take the lead for good. That BG lead grew as high as 13 points midway through the first half, before the Purple Eagles whittled their deficit down to four points in just over three minutes. But, the Falcons extended the margin to 14 points at the half, then scored the first five points of the second period to take a 53-34 lead.

That lead grew as high as 25 points on Konieczki's jumper with 13 minutes to go, and BG took a 30-point lead on a Hoekstra three-pointer with just under nine minutes remaining.

Niagara shot 57.9 percent from the field in the first half, going 11-of-19 from the floor. But, the Purple Eagles turned the ball over 15 times in the opening 20 minutes. The Falcons had a 22-8 advantage on points off turnovers for the game, including a 16-2 margin in the first half.

The Falcons shot 37.5% from the floor in the opening half, but BG got to the line 25 times in the opening period, making 20. For the game, the home team shot 73.2% from the stripe. Niagara shot 85.7% from the line, but got there 20 fewer times than the Falcons.

Val McQuade led the visitors with 14 points off the bench, making 6-of-7 shots form the field, while Sylvia Maxwell had 11 points and Victoria Rampado 10.

The Falcons made 10 three-pointers in the win, with the BG bench accounting for eight of those treys. Hoekstra hit a game-high three triples, with Konieczki and Matthews making two each.

Senior Alexis Rogers scored on the first possession of the game, before Rampado evened the score with a jumper just 30 seconds into the contest. This, BGSU scored eight-straight points, with the first five coming at the charity stripe. The Purple Eagles were whistled for four fouls within the first two-and-a-half minutes of the game, and three different NU players had two fouls apiece before the contest was six minutes old.

One of those Purple Eagles was Meghan McGuinness, who led NU with 25 points in the team's season opener. She played 25 minutes in the BGSU game, scoring seven points on 2-of-8 shooting.

After those five free throws gave the Falcons a 7-2 lead, Stein drove the baseline and whipped a pass to sophomore Miriam Justinger in the right corner. Justinger's three-pointer gave the Brown and Orange an eight-point advantage with three minutes gone.

Leading by a 14-9 score, the Falcons went on an 8-0 run, with the bulk of the scoring again coming from the free-throw line. Halfhill, freshman Abby Siefker and Rogers each went 2-for-2 at the stripe, and a Donovan jumper made the score 22-9 midway through the period.

But, NU scored nine of the game's next 11 points, including seven in a row. McGuinness knocked down a long three-point try to cut the Falcons' lead to just six points, 24-18.

Four-straight points by Maxwell got the visitors within four points, but a line-drive triple by Halfhill was followed by a Donovan putback, giving the home side a 33-24 advantage. After Kelly Van Leeuwen hit two free throws, Hoekstra's corner three gave the Falcons a 10-point lead.

The Purple Eagles responded with a bucket, but the Falcons scored five-straight points, capped by a transition layup by Donovan off of a long pass from Halfhill. BGSU led, 41-28, as the visitors used a timeout with just under two minutes left in the half.

In the final minute of the period, Hoekstra knocked down two free throws, then took a pass from Matthews and drained a three-pointer from the right wing. Hoekstra returned the favor, finding Matthews for a floater in the lane just before time expired in the opening half. The Falcons had a 48-34 lead at the break.

Donovan's corner three began the second-half scoring, just 11 seconds into the second half, and the redshirt soph hit a jumper just over a minute later. Justinger assisted on both of those buckets.

McGuinness picked up back-to-back fouls just 33 seconds apart, including her fourth of the game with 17:41 on the clock. The visitors got two Rampado tosses three minutes into the half, but Halfhill scored four-straight points, including a layup off of a sweet pass from Stein. The senior post found the senior point guard cutting along the baseline, and fired a no-look pass that hit Halfhill in stride for an easy layup.

When Halfhill grabbed a defensive rebound and found Donovan out ahead of the pack for an easy layup, the Falcons had a 59-36 lead with 15 minutes to go.

BG led by 21 when the Falcons hit three three-pointers in a three-minute span for a 30-point lead. Halfhill assisted on all three shots, with Matthews knocking down the first two and Hoekstra the third. Matthews hit from the right elbow and the left elbow, and Hoekstra knocked down a shot from the left corner, giving the Falcons a 73-43 advantage with 8:52 on the clock.

After Maxwell's layup stopped BG's run, the home team responded with layups from Siefker and Rogers off of two Hoekstra assists. Justinger hit a free throw, then followed her own missed shot and put it back up and in for a 33-point lead, the largest of the night. The visitors cut the margin to 25 points before the Falcons scored the final seven points of the game.

The Falcons shot 54.2% in the second half en route to a 44.6% rate for the game. BG held Niagara to just an 8-for-30 performance (26.7%) in the final period, as the Purple Eagles shot 38.8% from the floor on the night.

Halfhill had a game-high five assists without committing a turnover, while Justinger and Stein had four assists apiece. Stein, who tied her career rebounding high, set a new career standard in assists.

Hoekstra also set a new career best with three assists in Friday's victory.

BGSU returns to action on Monday night (Nov. 18), when the Falcons will take on Butler University in Indianapolis. The Butler game is the first of five consecutive games away from home for the Brown and Orange.