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April 11, 2024

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Foul trouble, dominant first half too much to overcome for Falcons in 76-61 loss

Amy Velasco ended with a career-high 28 points
Drake Harlett
Amy Velasco dribbling towards the paint

Heading into Saturday’s contest with Ball State, all the players for Bowling Green women’s basketball faced a test that was going to be difficult strategy-wise.

For the veterans, specifically Amy Velasco, the game was a bit more.

“It’s tough,” said Velasco postgame. “It’s tough to play against someone you’ve played with for a lot of years, but we came out here and we competed, we practiced just like it was any other day, no emphasis on having to play a former teammate.”

Ball State featured shooting guard and reigning Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Year Nyla Hampton, who spent her first three seasons in Bowling Green playing a handful of the returning Falcons from last year’s record-setting team.

The Cardinals remembered that team very well, losing twice to the Falcons, including the second time in the MAC semifinals of last year’s conference tournament.

Saturday, the Cardinals got a bit of revenge.

Behind a 20 point lead created in the first half, including holding the orange and brown to just five points in the second quarter, as well as foul trouble for the post players for BG, Ball State was able to lead comfortably throughout the contest and win 76-61.

“I think we were a little frantic, including myself,” said Paige Kohler postgame. “I was not very composed and that led to turnovers and layups for them. But I think going forward we got to learn how to handle pressure if other teams throw that at us.”

Coming in, both teams were undefeated in MAC play, tied along with Toledo and Kent State for first place, so the game was already big enough, especially since this is the only regular season meeting between these two teams.

But in this one, the standard of play that BG sets out for themselves was just not reached.

“We just have to be able to step up whenever we are called upon,” said Kohler. “Have to be ready at any point in the game from the tip, but I think we need to let things not affect us. Everyone has their role, so when we go out there, just staying in that role.”

One of the bright spots very early on for BG was forward Erika Porter, who ended the night with BG’s best +/- ratio at +16. However, due to picking up two fouls in the first five minutes of the first quarter, Porter was forced to the bench the rest of the half.

That is when Ball State did their damage, taking a six point after one quarter and growing it to 20 at halftime thanks to a 19-5 advantage in the second quarter, including a buzzer beater at the end of the half to deliver a big blow to the Falcons’ hopes.

In the second half however, things were a lot tighter, at least for the battle of the half, as BG ended +5 in the half on the backs of a career-high 28 points from Velasco and 18 from Kohler.

“She’s (Velasco) has a huge heart,” said head coach Fred Chmiel postgame. “It’s probably twice the size of a normal human. She just goes out there and plays relentlessly for 37+ minutes, and after every game, I’m in the locker room saying ‘we have to find a way to get her a rest’, but we can’t take her off the floor.”

In the end, the Cardinals (14-2 OVR, 4-0 MAC) were too much, as three different Cardinals finished in double-figures, with Madelyn Bischoff leading the charge with 18. Ally Becki and Estel Puiggros added 16 and 12 respectively.

Hampton, in her first duel with her former team, ended with eight points, six assists, four rebounds and a pair of steals.

For BGSU, adding along with the aforementioned point totals from Velasco and Kohler was Porter with eight points and four rebounds. Freshman forward Keiryn McGuff collected her season/career-high in rebounds with 11, the most out of any Falcon.

Bowling Green (9-5 OVR, 3-1 MAC) heads home again to the Stroh Center for a Wednesday night battle with the Akron Zips. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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