Women’s basketball falls to Central in MAC semifinals

CLEVELAND — Everything has to come to an end — the women’s basketball team just didn’t think it would happen so soon.

The Falcons lost in the semifinal round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament against Central Michigan on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena.

“It was our ninth consecutive MAC semifinal in the tournament,” said coach Curt Miller. “Unfortunately it was the first time in regulation that we have been eliminated and not gone on to the final.”

This was BG’s first game in tournament because they won the division outright, earning the No. 1 seed and a triple bye to the semifinals.

CMU, on the other hand, finished fifth overall and had to win two games just to get the semifinals, which they did, successfully, and took the third.

“We haven’t really been in this position so it really hurts,” said BG guard Chrissy Steffen. “Hats down to them, they played a good game, they found ways to score and they were just the better team today.”

The 69-66 win for the Chippewas was the highest point total in regulation play BG gave up since the beginning of the season when they played Dayton and nationally ranked Purdue.

“Only once in MAC play did a team get over 60 points on us in regulation and that was Central and we found a way to beat them in overtime in the regular season,” Miller said.

Central broke away with an early 4-0 lead in the first minutes of the game and the Falcons finally made a basket after three minutes had expired off the clock.

Senior Jessica Slagle was the first to score for BG, making the score 8-2. BG then rallied back with three pointers from freshman Jasmine Matthews and Alexis Rogers.

The Falcons took the lead once in the first half, but came up short just before the clock ran out, heading into the locker room down by three — little did the Falcons know those three points would be the difference at the end of the 40 minutes.

In the second half, BG adjusted their game to CMU, but freshman Crystal Bradford stole the show. She scored 18 of her game high 20 points in the second half; seven of those points came in the last 1:36.

“They’re certainly the hottest team,” Miller said. “They’ve won six in a row, they’re so talented. They’re just different than any team in the league make up wise.”

Late in the game, Rogers got into foul trouble when she was called for a dead ball technical, which was her fourth foul overall. She said it was tough sitting the bench in that situation.

“I felt like, no I didn’t want to be on the bench, but I kind of needed that minute to calm down,” Rogers said.

Despite the loss, Rogers put up a double-double. Rogers and Steffen both scored 14 points and Rogers had 11 rebounds, while Steffen contributed two.

Since the Falcons were the MAC’s regular season champions, they have clinched the league’s automatic berth in the WNIT field.

The Falcons will have the possibility to compete in postseason play, with a chance to host a game at the Stroh.

“I hope it’s not the last game in that building this year, I hope that we can rally and create something very special,” Miller said.

A game they won’t be playing in the Stroh, however, is in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Miller said he is disappointed they’re not going to the NCAA, but more so for their supporters.

“Who I am disappointed for that we’re not playing in the Stroh center is our fans, our community and our administration that’s worked so hard to bring the NCAA tournament to a mid major school and what a great opportunity it presented us,” Miller said.