BGSU Women’s Basketball defeats Valparaiso in opener

Reese Lannon and Reese Lannon

The BGSU women’s basketball team defeated Valparaiso at home on Sunday 70-60.

This marks the second straight season-opening win for the Falcons, as they defeated Cleveland State in the 2019 opener. The win also marks what Head Coach Robyn Fralick hopes to be a good start to a better year than 2019, when the Falcons started solidly but fell off during conference play and ended with a 10-21 record.

“I was really proud of our effort,” Fralick said. “We won because of our defense, we won today because we got some key defensive stops.

The Crusaders came in a veteran group with three returning starters after a 17-12 year last winter, and looked poised to be even better this year, but the much younger Falcons held the upper hand. The Falcons brought back two full-time starters in Angela Perry and Kadie Hempfling, plus the versatile sophomore Elissa Brett, who started the last 11 games of the 2019-20 season and two freshmen in guards Kenzie Lewis and Lexi Fleming.

The Falcons led 13-8 after one quarter, with both teams struggling offensively. Some of that can be attributed to both teams playing real competition for the first time in almost eight months, but the scoring ramped up in the second, with the Falcons taking a 34-30 lead into the break.

The Crusaders cut the lead to just one point,  heading into the final period 48-47.

But the Falcons put them away in the fourth, scoring the first 13 points of the final period on route to a 19-1 run that made the game well out of reach and ultimately ending 70-60.

“We got some stops and were able to penetrate the defense and get some inside and out threes,” Fralick said.

Valparaiso shot 34.5% from the field and was 20% from three-point land (6-30). The Falcons committed to getting better defensively, and the results were there all afternoon.

The Falcons themselves struggled shooting the ball, shooting 34.4% from the field and 25% from three, but Fleming carried the load offensively. She led all scorers by a wide margin with 24 points, and was remarkably efficient, going 7-13 from the field and 8-10 from the free throw line.

“Lexi Fleming in her first college game was huge for us,” Fralick said.

 Also chipping in for the Falcons was Brett, who struggled shooting the ball but showed remarkable poise as she grabbed 10 rebounds from the guard position, showing that she can affect the game even on off shooting days. Hempfling added 10 points and six rebounds while Perry scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds as well as a perfect six of six shooting day from the free throw line.

A win over a solid Valparaiso team in the season opener, on a day where the Falcons did not shoot the ball particularly well, is certainly a step in the right direction for the women’s basketball program.

In year three under Fralick, many expect the Falcons to compete much more in the MAC after a complete roster overhaul and lots of young players being added into the program. Fralick looks to have a team that will play hard, and can rely on their young players for scoring when needed, as Fleming left a mark in her college debut.

The game at Robert Morris was canceled due to coronavirus concerns, so the Falcons’ next game will be Sunday at noon against Milwaukee, who is 2-0 and defeated MAC foe Ball State last Wednesday.