Miller’s technical awakens defense

For a team that has four freshmen playing significant minutes and three starting, Bowling Green’s women’s basketball team has shown an uncanny ability to win games in different ways.

Last Saturday it was gutting out a key 66-58 road win at Northern Illinois.

Wednesday night, it was dominating the glass in an 85-48 blowout win over Akron.

And Saturday, it was turning up its defensive intensity in a 68-60 comeback win over Central Michigan, a win that pushed the Falcons into a tie for third in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division.

Coach Curt Miller’s technical foul with 13:03 remaining seemed to spark the Falcons. But still, with 11:28 left, Central opened its largest lead of the game at 49-40. As the Falcons’ zone continued to fail them, Miller switched to a man-to-man defense.

“We got some momentum [after that] because we stayed aggressive,” Miller said. “My players know that I’m fiery and I’m always going to protect them. They knew I was emotionally into this game; this was a huge game.

“Over the course of the game, I thought we were going to get enough stops to win the game; I just didn’t think they were going to come in the last eight minutes,” Miller said. “We held them to six points in the final eight minutes using our man defense.”

In the final 5:47, Megan Thorburn blocked two shots and Ali Mann and Liz Honegger each blocked one apiece as Central made just four out of 10 shots in that span.

“The game boiled down to 3-4 turnovers with those blocked shots at the end,” Central coach Eileen Kleinfelter said. “That was the big difference right there.

“Technicals usually mean you’re not happy,” she continued.

“Sometimes they say technicals can be a good thing. When it’s a close ball game, it might sway some things a different way. I’m sure that got them fired up. They cranked it up there; they have some good leadership.”

The Falcons’ defensive pressure led to offensive success down the stretch, as Mann and company were able to create easy scoring chances. BG outscored the Chippewas 11-0 on the fast break, and the Falcons shot 55 percent from the field and 94.4 percent from the foul line in the second half.

“They [blocks] are big momentum swings,” Mann said. “They got the crowd involved. They create tempo and let us push the ball up the court and get some big shots that we needed to win the game.”

Miller said he was pleased with the defensive effort, which was a bit different than what his team had been playing.

“This was a team that had won five of six really utilizing our zone, but we had to win using our man-to-man defense … That’s just a gut check and a credit to our players to get those stops,” he said. “For us to get some blocks in the second half late in the shot clock was big momentum.”