BG takes battle of top defenses

By John Turner Reporter

KENT, Ohio – If it’s true that defense wins championships, then the members of the BGSU women’s basketball team have a lot to look forward to this season.

The team has dominated the opposition defensively, holding 12 out its last 13 opponents to fewer than 60 points in regulation. The Falcons also lead the conference in fewest points allowed per game at just 54.2. They’ve also forced teams to a combined field goal percentage of just 37.2 this season.

“Our defensive is winning games right now,” said BG coach Curt Miller.

So it came as no surprise that when BGSU and Kent State, two of the top defensive squads in the conference, met Saturday, all eyes would be on the defenses of the two teams.

The Falcons won 61-58 – their first victory at the M.A.C. Center in over a decade. In order to do so, they had to overcome the pressure defense of the Golden Flashes.

“We have not done a very good job, in my tenure, of handling the pressure defense that Kent comes at you with every night and we have not handled that very well at all in this arena,” Miller said. “We let the physical play take us out of rhythm. So if there was any preparation that was more important than any other for this, it was to be able to play the first 20 minutes with composure, knowing how physical of a game it’s going to be.”

The team took the coach’s advice to heart in the first-half. Bowling Green started quickly by coming up with defensive stops at one end of the floor and calmly picking apart the physical, high-tempo Kent State defense at the other end. The Falcons’ opened up a 15-point lead at the half, holding a talented Golden Flash offense to just 8-of-27 from the field and only 22 points.

“They pressure the ball like crazy; they’re a killer defensive team,” said junior forward, Ali Mann. “I thought we did a good job handling their pressure and limiting turnovers.”

The tides turned quickly however in the second half, when Bowling Green was held to a meager 25 percent field goal shooting. On the other end of the court, Kent State turned up the pressure by erasing a double-digit Falcon lead.

“Our defensive pressure eventually wore them down,” said Kent coach Bob Lindsay. “We let the game go up and down the floor which is what we wanted. So maybe that pace of the first half, that pressure eventually wore them down a little bit.”

Miller shared those exact sentiments.

“In the second half, clearly their pressure, as they got us worn down we weren’t able to score as easy, and it was a real struggle every possession to find points,” he said.

But in the end it was defense that would give BG what it hadn’t had at Kent State – a win.

On the final play of the game, Bowling Green supporters rose to their feet as Kent State forward Lindsay Shearer missed a 3-pointer as time expired. The Falcons held Shearer and the Golden Flash to 0-for-12 shooting from behind the arc – the first time the team has failed to convert a 3-point attempt in 85 games.

“I’m proud of my team that they were able to step up and make plays down the stretch and come away with what is as big of road win in our program as I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” Miller said.