BG women keep it close, can’t overcome late CMU run

Keep it close is what the Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team was able to do for the entire 40 minutes against Central Michigan.

However, a 7-0 run by CMU which turned into a 13-6 run proved to be too much for the Falcons to overcome in a 57-54 loss at home.

“We’re undersized, and when you have a post player like Bracey who’s leading the conference in field goal percentage and you have Crystal Bradford who demands respect whenever she drives, you have to give the help off of somebody and in that little run it was coming off of Bracey, who shoots 60 percent in conference,” said Deborah Hoekstra, who finished with 19 points including five threes. “Then, in transition, they got a couple runouts on us, we lost sight of some shooters and had some lapses.”

A 3-pointer by Hoekstra gave the Falcons a 40-38 lead at the 9:09 mark when the Chippewas answered back at the line with two made free throws following a Kennedy Kirkpatrick foul. Sarah Baer then scored two post-move layups on back-to-back possessions to give BG the lead back, 44-40.

This inspired the 7-0 run by CMU giving them the lead that they hung onto for the final seven minutes.

Two late threes by Hoekstra and a layup by Miriam Justinger brought the Falcons within one, but two bad possessions down the stretch cost them the opportunity to take the lead.

“Central [Michigan] went on one run and we were able to counter. We got some consecutive stops late in the game to give us a chance to potentially go ahead,” said head coach Jennifer Roos. “I thought our kids played well enough to win tonight and it came down to the last possession.”

A forced three in the corner gave CMU the ball, but a missed free throw by the Chippewas gave the Falcons another hope only to let it slip through their hands as Rachel Myers lost the ball on the final possession without getting a shot up.

Now three consecutive losses, the Falcons understand that their season successes will be measured beyond their record, however.

An array of injuries leaving BG undersized and forced to give substantial minutes to four freshmen, the Falcons’ will measure success in a myriad of ways, Roos said.

“I’d have to say today was a success because we fought,” Hoekstra said. “We lost by three points, but we kept fighting as opposed to last game where we got hit in the mouth and never really recovered, this game we fought back.”

Down just one at halftime, BG responded with a jumper and then three consecutive threes including two from Myers to jump ahead, 33-30.

“We got a little complacent [in the first half], but we started zinging the ball around the perimeter [in the second half] and made the extra pass,” Hoekstra said.

The three-ball was working for the Falcons for most of the game finishing 10-of-23 including 6-of-11 in the second half. This helped open up the shooters in the second half and the shots began to fall.

“I told the team that we’d make 10 threes against this team with how much zone Central Michigan played and we made 10-of-23,” Roos said.

The Chippewas may have doubled the Falcons’ points in the paint, but BG tripled theirs from behind the arc.

“This was a game where they were going 2-by-2-by-2 with their inside and we were going 3-by-3-by-3,” Roos said.

BG also executed their defensive game plan.

Crystal Bradford, a player-of-the-year candidate and the nation’s 20th leading scorer at 20.9 points per game on nearly 20 shot attempts per game, was held scoreless in the first half and 10 points [5-17 from the field] for the game. The Falcons also forced her into a team-leading five turnovers.

Da’Jourie Turner picked up the scoring slack however, notching 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting. This ultimately helped spark the critical CMU runs late in the game.

“We executed our defensive game plan, but our margin of error is really small,” Hoekstra said. “They went on that run, we tried to battle back, but we never really overcame that.”

It wasn’t a success in the win-loss column, but it was a success in their preparation, Roos said regarding the final result.

“We put ourselves in position to be successful and that’s a great measuring stick,” she said.