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Falcons get first win of season led by juniors Donovan, Justinger

It was a different story for the Bowling Green women’s basketball team this year in their 80-59 win against Iona College.

One year ago the Falcons defeated Iona 51-50 at the Iona Tip-off Tournament. In that game Damika Martinez scored 25 of the Gaels 50 points. 

They learned from that game what Martinez, who came into this game as the nation’s leading returning scorer, was capable of.

The person who guarded her last year was, junior guard Miriam Justinger. Once again Justinger got the difficult defensive matchup, but was able to learn from that performance use it as motivation she said.

“We knew what she [Martinez] was capable of, I knew I was going to have to be prepared,” Justinger said. 

This time around Miriam, who was her primary defender for most of the game, was prepared and held her to 6-16 shooting resulting in 18 points and six turnovers. 

Along with the defensive matchup she scored 10 points, added five rebounds and three steals.

“She brings all of those statistics,” head coach Jennifer Roos said of Justinger. “She is really intelligent on the court and she wants to win. She has turned herself into a more complete player this year and she is very determined to be successful individually, but more so as a team.”

Justinger’s performance on the floor meant a lot for the Falcons, but so did their ability to score the ball offensively. 

The Falcons had five players in double digits led by Erica Donovan with 24 points. Donovan was followed by Abby Siefker with 12, Justinger and two freshmen Rachel Myers and Haley Puk each had 10. 

“It was really good balance and that’s what I need,” Roos said. “I don’t need a kid that can score 24 and then three others that score between eight and five. We need kids that can have balance.” 

Donovan who was scoreless in the Falcons season opening loss to Bucknell this past Friday was 7-12 from the field and 8-10 from the free throw line. 

Although, she struggled in the season opener she didn’t let it faze her, she said. 

“I didn’t let it get to me. I kept my head up and I had my teammates there to support me,” Donovan said. “I just responded.” 

Donovan scored her first points of the season with 14:41 left to go in the first half. From there it seemed as if the lid was lifted off of the rim for her. 

Soon after she scored her first points, the Falcons went on a 12-0 run. From the 12:14 mark in the first half to the 10:18 mark the Falcons were in control. Donovan had a big hand in that coming up with seven of those points, one steal and one rebound in that two-minute time slot.

“I just played through it. The first basket should always get you going, it should always make you feel confident about yourself,” Donovan said. 

The Falcons ended the first half with a 38-26 lead in the first half. They finished shooting 15-32 from the field, with six of those field goals coming from behind the arc. 

That changed in the second half as the Falcons seemed to make a concerted effort to score inside. That resulted in only three of their 12 field goals being from behind the three-point arc and a total of 20 free throw attempts. 

“Coach Roos always said inside out and then kick it out. I feel like when we do that we are successful,” Donovan said. “At the same time they were respecting our three so we went inside and got a lot of points inside.” 

The Falcons never trailed in the contest, but the Gaels made a strong push toward the end of the second half and cut the lead to 12 at one point.  

“I didn’t see any panic,” Roos said of the team. “My heart was racing when they cut it to 12 with about five minutes to go. I knew we had to make some shots to finish, our kids did a good job of attacking a little bit more.” 

This win moves the Falcons to 1-1 on the season and they will travel to Milwaukee for their first road game of the season on Nov. 22. 

“I feel like our team was really affected by the one point loss to Bucknell,” Donovan said. “I feel like as a team we responded.”

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