BGSU women’s basketball comes back to defeat Eastern Michigan in MAC quarterfinals

BGSUs+Nyla+Hampton+dribbles+across+the+top+of+the+key%2C+followed+by+Eastern+Michigans+Terrysha+Banner+in+BGSUs+63-47+MAC+Quarterfinal+win+over+the+Eagles+at+Rocket+Mortgage+Fieldhouse+on+Wednesday%2C+March+10%2C+2021.%26%23160%3B

BGSU’s Nyla Hampton dribbles across the top of the key, followed by Eastern Michigan’s Terrysha Banner in BGSU’s 63-47 MAC Quarterfinal win over the Eagles at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. 

Shayne Nissen and Shayne Nissen

After trailing by 10 at halftime, No. 1 seeded BGSU women’s basketball pulled away from No. 8 Eastern Michigan to win 63-47 in the MAC quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon. 

The win will move the Falcons on to the semifinals where they will get the winner of No. 4 Buffalo and No. 5 Kent State

The Falcons were off in the first half, shooting just 18% from three and 24% from the field. 

BGSU’s Kadie Hempfling kept the Falcons alive in the first half, she had nearly half of the team’s points with nine. She finished the game as the leading scorer with 15 points. 

Hempfling was on from the jump, making a three to open up the scoring for both teams. The Falcons went 1 of 10 for the rest of the half from long distance, as Elissa Brett knocked one down later in the first quarter. 

BGSU’s defense also kept them in the game in the first half as they did what they had been doing all season, creating havoc. They had 8 steals and 14 turnovers to Eastern Michigan’s one steal and four turnovers. 

But the Eagles just took advantage of the shots that they had, going 50% from the field and 50% from three as well in the first half. At the break the Falcons trailed by 10, 31-21. 

“It was a tale of two halves. In the first half we really did everything we wanted both offensively and defensively minus the turnovers,” Eastern Michigan Head Coach Fred Castro said.

The second half was a much different story. BGSU made it a point to attack the inside being that they had shot the ball so poorly earlier in the game. 

They were very effective in doing that as they went to the free throw line a whopping 29 times in the game sinking 23 of those free shots. Eastern Michigan went to the line just a total of nine times in the entire game. 

“Typically great teams do simple things well,” BGSU Head Coach Robyn Fralick said. “We have done that all year, we’ve been a great free throw shooting team and so I was really proud of our kids in that second half for stepping up and we really closed the gap at the free throw line and then we were actually able to get a lead there.”

Freshman Kenzie Lewis was the main beneficiary of that. She continuously found herself at the line. As a result she netted 14 points, eight of those coming from the line. She was also fantastic on the boards leading everyone in the game with 11 and notching a double-double.

“She (Lewis) was a total game changer for us tonight,” Fralick said. “She got to the free throw line a ton in that third quarter, fourth quarter. It was off rebounds, it was off being aggressive and I was really proud of her.”

The defense was also a big deal for the Falcons in the second half as they outscored the Eagles 42-16. 

“So proud of that,” Fralick said of the Falcon’s defense in the second half. “That is something that you can control all the time, is your ability to guard, to move together, to stay together, to keep them to one shot. I thought we did a good job of defending without fouling. Our defense in the second half was outstanding. 

Overall the Falcons ended with 13 steals, and forced 23 turnovers. Brett was the third player in double figures for the Falcons as she ended with 13 points. 

The Falcons played much of the second half without their leading scorer in MAC Freshman of the Year Lexi Fleming. Fleming went midway through the third quarter with a shoulder injury after a hard collision. She did not return to the game and was seen on the sideline with ice wrapped on her shoulder. Her status for Friday’s semifinal game is currently unknown. 

Despite the loss of Fleming the Falcons were able to power through, a trait of this team indicative of their surprising success. Fleming scored just four points in the game.

“The thing that I loved about our team all year is that we have been a team. You know we have had so many different people step up different nights. We haven’t replied just on one player night in and night out to carry the load,” Fralick said.

The Eagles were led by redshirt sophomore Ce’Nara Skanes who ended the game with 13 points. Redshirt senior Areanna Combs notched a double-double in her final collegiate game, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. 

“We knew what to expect in the second half. We talked about it at length at halftime but they took it, they earned it and that is what a championship team does,” Castro said.