On 'Senior Day' at the Stroh Center, Bowling Green State University's three women's basketball seniors made their final home regular-season game a memorable one. All three players hit double digits in the scoring column as the Falcons downed Ohio University, 63-39, in Mid-American Conference action Sunday afternoon (March 2).
With the win, the Falcons improve to 25-3 overall and 15-1 in MAC play, and BGSU has clinched a top-two seed for the Mid-American Conference Tournament. The Falcons capped the home portion of the regular-season schedule with a perfect 13-0 record.
Senior Jillian Halfhill led the Falcons with 12 points in Sunday's win, while classmates Alexis Rogers and Jill Stein had 11 points apiece. Stein had a double-double, with a game-high 13 rebounds on the afternoon.
The Falcons held the opponent to fewer than 40 points for the second consecutive game. BG topped Kent State, 82-38, Thursday night (Feb. 27) before downing the Bobcats on Sunday.
BGSU had a fast start to the second half, also for the second-straight game. The Falcons burst out to a 19-3 lead, only to see the Bobcats pull within nine points, at 25-16, late in the first half. The Brown and Orange scored the final three points of the half, then opened the second period with 10 consecutive points to take a 38-16 lead with 17:41 remaining. The lead never dropped below 18 points the rest of the day.
Junior Jasmine Matthews and redshirt sophomore Erica Donovan chipped in with nine points apiece for the Falcons, with Donovan adding nine rebounds as the Falcons enjoyed a 45-31 advantage on the boards.
All eight players in uniform scored at least two points, with junior Deborah Hoekstra scoring five, and freshmen Abby Siefker and Rachel Konieczki four and two, respectively. All eight Falcons had at least one assists, led by Rogers with four.
Yamonie Jenkins paced the Bobcats with 12 points on the afternoon, with Mariah Byard scoring eight and Kat Yelle seven.
Each team played without a starter. For BGSU, sophomore Miriam Justinger did not suit up, while Ohio's leading scorer, Kiyanna Black, missed Sunday's contest after suffering an injury in the Bobcats' previous game, vs. Buffalo on Thursday.
BGSU has won 13 consecutive 'Senior Day/Night' games since Jennifer Roos joined the program, and the Falcons are 18-1 in the last 19 such contests.
The Falcons' three seniors were recognized in festivities prior to tipoff, and when the game began, it did not take that trio long to make their presence felt. Just 12 seconds into the game, Halfhill hit a corner three after receiving a cross-court pass from Rogers. The Falcons' lead grew to 6-0 after an offensive rebound by Stein kept a possession alive. That play resulted in a similar Rogers assist, as Matthews was the beneficiary of another cross-court pass leading to another three-pointer.
After Matthews lobbed the ball inside to Stein for a layup, the Falcons' lead was 8-1 at the first media timeout of the day.
Quiera Lampkins countered with a layup for the visitors, but a driving layup by Rogers was followed by a big-time putback by Donovan. She grabbed an offensive rebound with a gaggle of Ohio players surrounding her, and laid the ball back up and in for a 12-3 lead.
Siefker entered the game and immediately found Rogers for a short 'and-one' jumper, and Konieczki came up with a steal to give the ball back to BG. The freshman point guard found Rogers for a long two-pointer, and Siefker then hit a foul-line jumper, increasing BG's run to 11-0 and the team's lead to 19-3.
Byard hit a triple at the 9:36 mark to double her team's point total, but Stein found Siefker for a layup and a 21-6 lead. The 'Cats scored five-straight points, however, and Ohio was still within 10 points before Konieczki connected on a pull-up jumper to give the Falcons a 25-13 edge. That would prove to be BG's last bucket for nearly five minutes.
The Falcons' defense did not let the Bobcats cut into that lead, though, as Ohio went scoreless for nearly the same amount of time. The score remained 25-13 until Jenkins hit a three-pointer with just under a minute to go in the half.
But, Stein answered with a layup after a Hoekstra bounce pass inside, and Donovan split a pair of free throws for a 28-16 lead at the half.
After holding Kent State to just four second-half field goals on Thursday, the Falcons allowed Ohio to make only five first-half shots on Sunday. The Bobcats shot 19.2 percent (5-of-26) from the floor in that opening period.
BG started the second half quickly, making 7-of-8 shots -- including 3-of-3 three-point tries -- to extend the lead. Rogers got the fun started with a layup just 14 seconds into the period, and Donovan's pass found an open Matthews for a corner three and a 33-16 lead with just a minute gone.
Donovan lobbed the ball inside to Stein for a layup, and Stein then found Matthews for another triple and a 38-16 advantage at the 17:41 mark.
Moments later, Matthews drove and kicked the ball to Halfhill for a three-ball from the left wing and a 43-20 lead, and Halfhill's entry pass found Rogers for a layup and a game-high 25-point margin.
The 'Cats scored the next four points, before Hoekstra hit a back-breaking shot. With the shot clock winding down, Matthews flipped the ball to her fellow junior. Hoekstra, from well beyond the three-point line, fired a shot that found nothing but net, giving the home side a 48-24 lead with 13:26 to go.
Eight minutes into the second half, the Falcons were 8-of-11 from the field for the period. Meanwhile, Ohio had made eight total field goals for the game.
Out of a timeout, Stein took a pass from her fellow senior, Halfhill, and hit a layup. That bucket gave the Brown and Orange a 50-27 lead and gave Stein a double-double.
After a Bobcat trey, the lead remained between 18 and 20 points for quite some time. When Halfhill made a layup with 3:49 to go, all three BGSU seniors had reached double figures in the scoring column.
Roos took her seniors out of the game one at a time, and the home crowd roared its appreciation for each of the three. Stein checked out of the game with 3:03 remaining, while Halfhill left the game after hitting a layup with just over two minutes to go. Rogers came out of the contest with 1:28 on the clock, just before Siefker fed Donovan for a layup and the game's final points.
The Falcons shot 46.3% for the game, including a 14-of-25 (56.0%) effort in the second half. Meanwhile, the BG defense limited the Bobcats to just a 22.4% success rate on the day.
Matthews hit half of the Falcons' six three-pointers, going 3-of-5 from long range, while Halfhill made two treys and Hoekstra one. The home team was 6-of-21 from long distance, while the 'Cats went just 4-for-28 from beyond the arc.
BG had 18 assists on 25 baskets. As mentioned, Rogers led the way with four assists, while Matthews had three and five other Falcons two apiece. Both Donovan and Stein blocked two shots as the Falcons had five blocks on the day.
BGSU enjoyed a 32-12 advantage in points in the paint, including a 20-6 margin in the second half.
The Falcons close the regular-season schedule with road games against Miami Wednesday (March 5) and Akron (March 8). The MAC Tournament begins Monday, March 10, but BG's first game will not be until the semifinal round on Friday, March 14.