Women’s basketball wins MAC Regular Season Championship

Tara Jones and Tara Jones

With a win over Akron and a Central Michigan loss, the Falcons have soared to the top of the Mid-American Conference.

The 27-3 Falcons defeated Akron University in a conference battle by a score of 77-76. With the win and Central Michigan’s overtime loss at Eastern Michigan, the Falcons clinched the outright regular-season conference title with a MAC record of 17-1.

The shot that won the MAC Championship was taken by Senior Jillian Halfhill, as she set up the offense with about 20 seconds left on the clock. She took the open look, making a layup, leaving just 6.6 seconds on the clock.

Halfhill said she never panicked when the ball was in her hands in the last possession. She knew if she didn’t make the potential game-winning layup, one of her teammates would be there to get the rebound.

Once she made the bucket to put the Falcons up 77-76, she said she knew they had to get a stop to prevent a buzzer-beater from Akron, and they did.

Roos said someone would have to be naïve if they thought the game wouldn’t come down to the end. She said they were just fortunate Halfhill made the shot when she did.

The Falcons designed a play for the final possession and Halfhill took the first option and made what became the game-winning layup.

Sophomore Miriam Justinger also contributed key plays for the Falcons at the end of the game.

“[Justinger] had some ice water in her veins,” Roos said.

Justinger said that it was the “best feeling in the world” being back on the court after sitting two games with an illness. She said she felt confident launching the three to put the Falcons ahead 72-71 with 1:51 left.

She then put up another three with 45.4 seconds remaining that led to a foul and three free throws for the 97 percent free-throw shooter.

“There was a little bit of pressure, but I know my teammates believe in me, so I went to the line with confidence and knocked them down,” Justinger said

Halfhill said Justinger was pumped up for the game Saturday morning.

“I knew when she came in at the end that she was going to do something big, and she did,” Halfhill said.

BG head coach Jennifer Roos said she was thankful for the win over Akron.

“We wanted this for our staff. We wanted this for our team. We wanted this for our fans,” said Roos. “A lot of people told us we couldn’t do this. I was told I couldn’t do this, and we did.”

Halfhill said the win over Akron was huge because of the outcome it had on the team, bumping them up to the number one seed in the conference tournament with Central Michigan’s loss. With the top seeding, the Falcons will have the advantage of facing a four seed instead of a two or three seed.

“You could feel the intensity from the crowd, the people. The atmosphere was awesome today,” Halfhill said.

After the team erupted upon finding out Central Michigan lost, Halfhill said, “Going in for the senior year, you can’t ask for anything more than that.”

The Falcons will return to action on Friday, March 14 in Cleveland where they will take on a team to be determined in the semi-final round of the MAC tournament.