Velasco shines as BGSU throttles Florida for Fab 4 berth

Steve Iwanek, Sports Content Director

Steve Iwanek, Sports Content Director, Falcon Media Sports Network

I think my ears are still ringing from the crowd last night at the Stroh Center.

3,788 fans brought the house down last night as they watched BGSU women’s basketball take down the Florida Gators in the Great 8 of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, 69-52.

This team just keeps on winning, as with last night’s victory, the Falcons have now tied a school and Mid-American Conference record with 31 wins (31-6).

In the past, only six times has a MAC women’s team won 30 plus games in a season.

Four of those teams? Bowling Green squads.

The journey to number 31 was not easy at first. In the first half, the orange and brown turned the basketball over 12 times, an uncharacteristic performance for a team that led the MAC in the turnover margin all year, only averaging 12.8 turnovers a game.

Don’t worry, they fixed that in the second half.

After trailing 31-28 at the break, BGSU made a statement not just in the WNIT, but also towards the NCAA, outscoring the Gators 41-21 in the second half.

BG forced 13 Gator turnovers in the second half (22 overall), while only coughing it up four times in the second half, leading to victories in the turnover margin (22-16 BG), rebounding battle (47-35 BG), and free throw battle (9-7 BG).

Leading the charge on the offensive end was sophomore Amy Velasco, who strapped on her freshman year shoes and led the way in scoring with 18 points to go along with five assists in 39 minutes on the floor.

Velasco once again had to replace Nyla Hampton in the starting lineup, who missed her second straight game with an ankle/foot injury.

Elissa Brett, with all of the drama surrounding last game’s postgame incident and having to wear a protective facemask, finished the night with 16 points and nine rebounds, one shy of a double-double.

Allison Day’s strong first half led to 12 points overall in the contest, completing the double-digit scoring performances for the Falcons.

The night felt like a Disney story playing out; adversity in the beginning, one of the best crowds ever at the Stroh rocking, an unreal performance from a sophomore, a Rudy-esque moment for Velasco and Lexi Fleming immediately afterwards.

All of that, along with the overall season, has given the team an added sense of appreciation of what is to come and also what has happened.

“What a night,” Head Coach Robyn Fralick said. “I was really proud of our team. Our crowd, our fans, our student section… it’s such a joyful and rewarding feeling to see so many good things come together. For our university and our community, this was a really special night.”

The season is not over yet, as BGSU hosts the Columbia Lions out of the Ivy League on Wednesday, 3/28, at the Stroh Center.

Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m., and Brandon Loe will have the call beginning shortly beforehand on WBGU 88.1 FM.

For more information about the team, visit the athletics webpage.