Seniors Jillian Halfhill and Alexis Rogers posted double-doubles as the Bowling Green State University women's basketball team picked up a 61-56 win at Eastern Michigan University Saturday afternoon (Feb. 15). The Mid-American Conference game was held at the Convocation Center.
With the win, the Falcons improve to 21-3 overall, and BGSU is now 11-1 in MAC play this winter. The Eagles drop to 14-9 and 4-8, respectively.
Halfhill had a game-high 21 points along with 10 rebounds, as the Falcons had a 51-34 advantage on the glass. Rogers scored 13 points and also had game-high totals of 13 boards and seven assists.
Olivia Fouty led the Eagles with 15 points and nine rebounds, while EMU freshmen Janay Morton and Cha Sweeney had 10 points apiece.
The Eagles led by a 21-8 score nearly halfway through the opening period, but the Falcons battled back to take a five-point lead at the intermission. Eastern took the lead with just under 14 minutes left in the game, but Halfhill responded with one of her game-high four three-point field goals, and BG never trailed again.
BG's lead stayed between four and seven points for the bulk of the half, but the Eagles got as close as two points with just under two minutes left. EMU got the ball back, but Sweeney's potential game-tying layup would not drop, and Rogers corralled the rebound. The ensuing possession saw Rogers take a pass from fellow senior Jill Stein and hit a layup for a four-point lead with 43.4 seconds left.
EMU led for nearly all of the first half, beginning with a Desyree Thomas three-point field goal that opened the game's scoring with fewer than 30 seconds gone.
Rogers got the Falcons on the scoreboard with a putback a minute later, but Fouty knocked down a three, and Natachia Watkins canned a transition jumper, giving the Eagles an 8-2 lead as BG coach Jennifer Roos used an early timeout.
The Eagles' lead grew to 10-2 before Rogers came up with another offensive rebound and putback with just over three minutes gone. Watkins answered, however, with another jumper, and moments later, Sara Stone put back a teammate's miss for a 15-5 Eastern advantage.
Halfhill hit a long triple try from the right wing, but a steal and layup by Thomas began a 6-0 run for the home team. A bucket by Shannise Heady was followed by another hoop from Thomas, and the Eagles had a 21-8 lead at the 11:09 mark.
The Falcons had made just 3-of-16 field goals to that point, but BG then would go 10-of-19 to end the half. Junior Deborah Hoekstra began the comeback by taking a pass from sophomore Miriam Justinger and hitting a three-pointer.
Rogers faked a shot and whipped an overhead pass to redshirt sophomore Erica Donovan under the basket. Donovan was fouled and hit the resulting free throws, and BG trailed by a 21-13 score. Then, Donovan cut across the lane to hit a layup while surrounded by a flock of Eagles, and the Falcons were within six points.
The hosts responded, as Sweeney hit a three-pointer with 7:01 left in the half, but after the teams traded layups, but Falcons went on an 8-0 run to get within a single point. Junior Jasmine Matthews had six of those eight points, beginning with a three-pointer from a Rogers kick-out with 6:10 to go before halftime.
That shot cut the EMU lead to 26-20, and the seas parted for Stein, who found herself unguarded as she dribbled down the lane. Her easy layup made it a four-point game. BG got the ball back, and Halfhill and Matthews passed the ball back and forth multiple times before Matthews led fly and found nothing but net to make it a 26-25 game.
Morton's jumper at the shot-clock buzzer gave the Eagles a three-point advantage, but after a steal by Hoekstra, Rogers and Halfhill teamed up for their first of three-straight baskets.
The first two hoops were virtual carbon copies of one another. In each case, Rogers whipped a cross-court pass to Halfhill on the right wing, and the senior point guard hit a pair of long two-point shots. The first made it a one-point EMU lead with 2:20 to go, and the second gave the Falcons their first lead, 29-28, at the 1:32 mark.
Then, Halfhill lobbed a pass to Rogers for a layup and a three-point advantage. Sweeney split a pair of free throws, but Halfhill took a pass from Matthews and drained a three-point shot with 34 seconds left in the half, giving the Falcons a 34-29 lead at the break.
Halfhill had 10 points in that opening half, including seven in the last 2:20. Rogers had eight points, seven boards and four assists in the first period of play.
Sweeney opened the second-half scoring with a steal and layup, but Stein came right back with a layup of her own. Morton hit a rainbow three-pointer to cut BG's lead to two, but Stein found Rogers inside for an 'and-one' layup, with the free throw making it a 39-34 game.
Slowly but surely, however, Fouty and the Eagles came back. Fouty put together a personal 6-0 run, with a natural hat trick of hoops over a three-minute span. She hit a layup, then a jumper, then grabbed a teammate's miss and laid the ball back up and in. EMU led, 40-39, with 13:54 to go.
On the next possession, though, another cross-court pass by Rogers led to another Halfhill hoop. This time, the point guard hit a three-pointer from the left corner, and BG took the lead for good, 42-40.
Moments later, Halfhill stole an errant EMU pass and fired the ball ahead to Rogers. Rogers, underneath the basket, redirected the ball to Donovan on the other side of the hoop, and the nifty touch pass led to an easy layup and a 44-40 advantage.
The Eagles turned the ball over again, and this time, Donovan stole the ball and took it to the hoop herself, laying it in for a six-point lead with 12:33 to go.
Following that Donovan shot, neither team hit a field goal over a span of nearly five minutes. The Eagles cut the margin to four points by hitting three free throws to the Falcons' one during that time.
Matthews took the lid off the bucket with a layup after a slashing drive, but Watkins came right back with a layup of her own just seven seconds later. Halfhill took a Matthews pass and hit a trey, giving the Falcons a 52-45 lead, but Fouty answered with a layup and a chance for a three-point play. Her free throw did not drop, but moments later, she went back to the line after an over-the-back call on the Falcons, and Fouty hit both of those tosses to cut BG's lead to 52-49 with 6:33 remaining.
Halfhill answered with a floater in the lane, and Hoekstra's nifty baseline drive resulted in a layup and a 56-49 lead, but Morton came right back with a three-pointer to cut BG's lead to four points at the final media timeout.
That lead was cut in half after Morton knocked down a pair of shots from the stripe with 1:50 left, making it a 56-54 game. The Falcons missed a pair of shots on the next possession, giving the ball back to the Eagles with 1:19 left.
Sweeney, however, missed a layup, and Rogers rebounded. The next possession resulted in a Rogers layup with 43.4 seconds left, and Rogers then stole the ball from Fouty in the frontcourt. Halfhill was fouled and hit two shots for a 60-54 lead with 32.1 seconds remaining. But, the Eagles were not finished.
Thomas was fouled, went to the line with 26.3 seconds left and hit both free throws. Then, as BG prepared to inbound the ball, a foul was called on the Falcons, giving possession back to Eastern. A Sweeney layup try, though, was unsuccessful, and Hoekstra rebounded that miss.
Halfhill was fouled with 18.1 seconds left, but missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity. Again, though, the Falcons got a stop, as Thomas missed a layup try and Halfhill came up with the rebound. The senior point guard was fouled with 10.1 ticks on the clock and split a pair of shots from the line for the final margin. EMU fired up two more shots, but couldn't get either one to drop, and Hoekstra grabbed the second miss just before the final horn sounded.
The BG defense got stops on five of the Eagles' final six possessions of the game, and Eastern went 0-for-7 from the field to end the contest.
The Falcons shot 36.5 percent from the field, and BG was 7-of-28 from three-point range. EMU shot 33.9% from the floor, including an 8-of-27 effort (29.6%) in the second period, and the Eagles hit five long-range shots in 21 attempts.
Donovan had nine points and six rebounds on the day, while Matthews scored eight points and Hoekstra and Stein five apiece. Both Hoekstra and Stein added five rebounds, while Matthews and Stein each had three assists in the win.
The Eagles got nine points, six assists and a game-high five steals from Thomas, while Watkins had seven points and seven boards. Fouty was 6-of-8 from the field in the game, but her teammates were just 14-of-51 on the afternoon/evening.
BG had a total of 21 offensive rebounds, with Rogers (seven) and Donovan (four) accounting for 11 of them. Somehow, despite combining for 33 offensive rebounds in the game, the Falcons and Eagles scored a total of just 17 second-chance points.
BGSU now prepares for a Wednesday (Feb. 19) game against Central Michigan University. Tipoff for the matchup of the MAC's two division leaders is 7:00 p.m., and the game will be Pack the House Night as well as Social Media Night at the Stroh Center.