BGSU freshmen are propelling the Falcons to a surprising season

Drew Terhall and Drew Terhall

The Bowling Green women’s basketball team was not supposed to be in this position.

Last season, the Falcons were 10-21 with a 3-15 conference record.

Before the season started, they were voted to finish second to last in the MAC coaches’ poll.

They are currently second in the MAC with a 8-2 conference record and a 12-3 overall record. They are behind Kent State who are 4-0 in conference play, but they have not played a game since Jan. 9.

A major reason behind this turnaround has been the play from their freshmen big three.

Freshmen guards Lexi Fleming, Nyla Hampton and Kenzie Lewis came to BGSU together with similar backgrounds.

In high school, each guard was a part of a winning program. They all made their respective league’s first teams and second teams throughout their careers.

Even with the accolades, they were recruited to BGSU for their fit with the program.

“Recruiting is a big part of our job, but evaluation is a bigger part. Recruiting the right players is more important than just recruiting,” BGSU head coach Robyn Fralick said.

Each player has their own skill set that has helped the Falcons become a threat in the MAC.

Since the beginning of the season, Fleming has shown that she can be a dominant player in the MAC. She leads the team in points per game with 18.5. She also leads the team in steals with 44. Fleming can get the offense rolling on either side of the court.

Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Hampton has shown to be a quality scoring option and a pesky defender. She averages 8.7 points a game on 40.5% shooting. Hampton is third on the team in steals with 29.

Lewis has shined as a great defensive player for the team. She is second on the team in steals with 36 and leads the teams in blocks with 10. Lewis is also a great rebounding guard, collecting 92 rebounds on the season as second best on the team. On the offensive side, she is the primary ball handler, leading the team in assists with 52.

Their skill sets combined has helped the team play a different style of basketball than they did a season ago.

“I think defensively we’re a different team. We’re able to guard in a different way, more aggressive, that’s been part of it. They’re all combo guards, they can play with or without the ball, which in the style and system we have been working towards that is very important,” Fralick said.

In all of college basketball, BGSU is ranked third in steals and fourth in turnovers forced.

Outside of their abilities, the freshmen’s intangibles have helped this team improve from a season ago.

“Their feel, their IQ and their competitiveness have elevated our program,” Fralick said.

For the fans, the emergence of the players is a welcome surprise. But the success these freshmen are having this season is not a surprise to Fralick.

“We had high expectations out of them. We had watched them play for two years. We knew what they were capable of,” Fralick said.

Fralick is not the only one who has helped the freshmen succeed this season. The upperclassmen on the team have played a huge role in the development of the big three.

“I have never been a part of a team or program that has so much enthusiasm for each other. That translates to a lot of our success on the court,” Lewis said.

The upperclassmen have been able to take the freshmen under their wing. The actions of the older players has had a positive impact on the team.

“They’re instilling the culture and daily expectations of our program everyday. That’s been a good step for our program too, where it is player led. Our upperclassmen are able to demonstrate what we are about,” Fralick said.

Fleming, Hampton and Lewis have shown to be perfect matches for this program. Fralick’s ability to establish her culture has given this freshmen trio all the tools to be successful.

The Falcons last won a regular season MAC title in 2014. Their last MAC tournament title was in 2011.

This young core has not only given the program hope of a MAC title this year, but hope that the program can win multiple MAC titles in the near future.