McGowan has big role off bench in quarterfinals

Andrew Harner and Andrew Harner

CLEVELAND – It’s not often a coach will be satisfied when a freshman who played in 12 games during the regular season had to come in off the bench for a first team all-conference player. However, in Friday afternoon’s Mid-American Conference Tournament quarterfinal game, that was just the case when Victoria McGowan saw some minutes after Tracy Pontius got into early foul trouble. ‘I think the moment forced her to play at the intensity level we needed,’ Miller said. ‘The team is genuinely excited when Victoria plays well.’ McGowan, who entered the game averaging 3.8 minutes and 0.8 points per game, went for well above both averages in BG’s 80-62 win over Central Michigan. After scoring six points in her 12 minutes off the bench, the starting point guard, Pontius, was very pleased with her backup’s effort. ‘I’m super proud of her,’ Pontius said. ‘I have all the confidence in the world in her.’ Additionally, McGowan grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists, including a nice bounce pass to Laura Bugher with 1:08 left in the game. McGowan’s role off the bench was increased for the game as the usual backup point guard, Jessica Slagle, wasn’t available due to an ACL injury. CMU coach Sue Guevara said the fact Slagle was out made it less of a surprise the other players like McGowan off the Falcon bench scored like they did. ‘I think what we saw today was a team that rallied around the fact that their rotation got hurt, and there were a lot of people that were going to make up for her being out,’ Guevara said. ‘It just speaks to the depth that they have.’ If rallying around a missing player wasn’t enough, a big play by McGowan in the second half would’ve been enough to get the team going. With 10:54 left in the game, McGowan came up with a big steal, drove the entire court and put in a lay up that gave BG a 60-34 lead and served as the culmination of a long BG run that put the game out of hand for the Chippewas. However, her coming out was something Miller basically saw last season during the MAC Tournament. In last season’s semifinal game against Ohio, senior Kate Achter found herself in foul trouble, forcing Miller to use a young, inexperienced Pontius in the biggest game of the season. In that game, Pontius recorded eight points in 15 minutes, much to the same effect McGowan did today. ‘It was a little d’eacute;j’agrave; vu,’ Miller said. ‘[I had] a little d’eacute;j’agrave; vu when Tracy got into foul trouble.’ And while McGowan isn’t likely to take over for Pontius at the point next season, the minutes she got are invaluable to her growth as a player.