Senior Alexis Rogers had 22 points and 17 rebounds as the Bowling Green State University women's basketball team opened Mid-American Conference play on a successful note. The Falcons downed the University at Buffalo, 62-50, at the Stroh Center Saturday afternoon (Jan. 4).
With the win, the Falcons improve to 11-2 on the season, while dropping the Bulls to 7-5 overall. Saturday's game was the MAC opener for both teams.
The Falcons shot just 33.9 percent from the field on the day, but BG held UB to only a 32.8% success rate. BGSU enjoyed a 51-35 rebounding advantage, with 19 offensive boards in the win.
Sophomore Miriam Justinger joined Rogers in double digits with 11 points on the day. All 11 of those points came in the opening half as the Falcons overcame an early UB advantage.
Senior Jill Stein had a well-rounded game for the Brown and Orange, with nine points, 13 rebounds and game-high totals of five assists and three blocked shots.
For Buffalo, Margeaux Gupilan had 15 points, while Joanna Smith added 10. Mackenzie Loesing added eight points, but played only five minutes before suffering an injury and missing the rest of the contest.
Loesing and the Bulls got off to a hot start, scoring the game's first seven points and forcing BGSU coach Jennifer Roos to use a timeout just two minutes into the contest. Each of Buffalo's first three offensive possessions of the game ended in points. Kristen Sharkey's jumper opened the scoring, and Loesing converted a three-point play before Gupilan's layup made it a seven-point game.
Meanwhile, the Falcons went scoreless in each of the first four possessions of the day. Finally, Rogers got to the line and hit a pair of free throws to get the home team on the board. But, Loesing immediately responded with a three-point field goal, giving the Bulls an eight-point lead, the team's largest of the day.
The teams traded points, with a Rogers putback followed by a pair of Loesing charity tosses, and the Bulls took a 12-4 lead into the first media timeout of the game. Then, however, BG proceeded to go on an 8-0 run to tie the game.
Justinger was key in that run, taking a pass from Rogers after an offensive rebound and hitting a three-pointer, then converting a Stein pass into another trey. The Falcons then tied the score when Stein found Rogers for a layup.
With Loesing out of the game due to an injury suffered with 14:50 to go in the half, the Bulls regained the lead on a Gupilan jumper. But, Justinger's third triple in just over three minutes gave the Falcons the lead for good. Rogers hit two free throws, then knocked down a pull-up jumper, and BG had a 19-14 lead.
Midway through the half, Joanna Smith's three-pointer cut BG's advantage to three points, at 20-17, but the Falcons scored the next seven points for a double-digit lead.
First, Stein scored in the paint after a feed from junior Deborah Hoekstra. Then, freshman Rachel Konieczki's pass resulted in a three-pointer by junior Jasmine Matthews. When Rogers grabbed an offensive rebound and laid the ball back up and in, BG had a 27-17 lead with just under seven minutes left in the half.
As was the case all day, however, the Bulls remained within striking distance. Jenna Rickan hit a three, and after a pair of Stein free throws, a triple by Karin Moss cut the Falcons' lead to six. Neither team would score for nearly three minutes, until Justinger hit a long two-pointer with just under a minute to play in the half. Rickan answered with a layup, making it a 31-25 BG lead at the intermission.
In the second half, senior Jillian Halfhill opened the scoring with a transition layup just over a minute in, after Stein had deflected a Buffalo pass, and BG's lead was eight. That Falcon lead stayed between seven and 10 points for the next eight minutes.
Junior Erica Donovan hit a layup after a nifty play by Justinger. The sophomore rose as if to shoot, whipping an overhead pass at the last instant. That pass found a wide-open Donovan cutting to the bucket, and her shot gave BG a 35-26 lead.
Ricken hit a layup, but Stein drove and drew a foul on Christa Baccas -- her fourth of the game -- while hitting a layup. Stein completed the three-point play by sinking the free throw, and the Falcons had a 38-28 lead at the 15:30 mark.
The teams traded points until a Halfhill jumper was followed by a pair of Rogers charity tosses, giving the hosts a 12-point margin, 44-32. Gupilan came up with a steal and layup, but a Hoekstra steal resulted in a Halfhill hoop in transition.
Smith knocked down a triple try, however, and Gupilan drained a pair of free throws out of the eight-minute media timeout. Baccas, back in the game with four fouls, stole the ball on the ensuing possession, and Smith's jumper made it a five-point game, 46-41, with 7:29 remaining. But, the hosts would respond.
On the next possession, Donovan found Rogers for a back-door layup with the shot clock winding down. BG forced Gupilan into a miss, and Donovan rebounded the ball. Then, the redshirt sophomore found Rogers in the lane again. This time, Rogers kicked the ball back out to Donovan for a three-pointer and a 51-41 lead with 6:31 left.
BG was not out of the woods yet, as layups by Smith and Sharkey reduced Buffalo's deficit to six, 53-47, with 2:52 on the clock. But, after the latter bucket, Rogers beat the Bulls down the floor, and Konieczki fired a long pass ahead to the fifth-year senior for a layup.
Sharkey misfired on a three-point try, and Stein grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Her free throws made it a 57-47 game with 2:28 remaining.
Each team went 0-for-2 at the line in their next possession, and after Gupilan missed a three-point shot, Stein found an open Hoekstra in the corner, in front of the BG bench. The junior's three-point try found nothing but net, and the Falcons had a 60-47 lead with 1:13 to go.
Moss hit a trey of her own to cut the lead to 10 points, but UB could get no closer. Hoekstra hit two free throws to close the scoring.
Halfhill and Hoekstra scored six points apiece, while Donovan had five points and six rebounds in just 13 minutes of action.
The Falcons will open the road portion of the MAC schedule with a Thursday (Jan. 9) game at Kent State, before returning home to face Akron on Sunday, Jan. 12, at the Stroh.
* Rogers (10) and Justinger (9) combined to score BGSU's first 19 points of the game ... no other Falcon scored until Hoekstra hit a free throw with 10:38 left in the first half, and no other BG player made a field goal until Stein's layup at the 8:09 mark.
* Matthews made her first start of the season, after BGSU's lineup had been the same -- Donovan, Halfhill, Justinger, Rogers and Stein -- in each of the first 12 games of the year.
* Donovan missed the start of the game due to a funeral ... she arrived at the Stroh Center late in the first half, and was in BG's lineup at the start of the second half.
* Freshman Abby Siefker sang the National Anthem prior to Saturday's game.