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Senior Jessica Slagle leads women’s basketball in breakout season

Jessica+Slagle
Jessica Slagle

There hasn’t been a game she hasn’t started this season.

It’s a statement that was contradictory in seasons past, but senior Jessica Slagle has made a name for herself in the 2011-12 season.

After three years of sitting the bench behind starters like Lauren Prochaska and Tracy Pontius, Slagle’s name has never left the starting lineup.

“Despite not playing a lot in the past three years, I’ve had a front row seat to things on and off the court,” Slagle said.

Now that she is on the court, Slagle has hit many milestones during her 23 games played so far this season.

The Falcons closed out January with a two-game road trip Slagle dominated – she led the team in points in both games, earning her career high of 22 points against Ball State.

“I’m just thankful I’ve had good games,” Slagle said. “The team has been playing well and I can’t take all the credit; we are getting wins on the score board.”

In the overtime game against Central Michigan, Slagle’s late bucket gave the Falcons a short-lived lead that eventually led them into overtime. She was also the first one to fire in extra minutes, leading the Falcons a 77-72 victory.

Combined, Slagle averaged 20.5 points, and led BG in assists with 4.5 per game and three steals on the road.

Slagle received the Mid-American Conference Player of the Week award for the first time in her career for her efforts against Ball State and CMU.

She said she never dreamed of earning the award before.

“Lauren Prochaska and Tracy Pontius, the greats here, got it, and frequently,” Slagle said. “I kind of put it on the back burner … It’s not something I set sight on, but I am honored and humbled.”

Associate head coach Jennifer Roos, who has been taking head coach Curt Miller’s place in his absence, said Slagle has waited behind some great players – Prochaska and others – and it has turned into an unbelievable performance.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less of [Slagle], and what she has been able to do has helped elevate our overall team play throughout the season,” Roos said.

Slagle is the only senior on the team this year, since the Falcons graduated six seniors and 6,000 points last season – Prochaska being one of them.

She is also a tri-captain, along with the only returning starter from last season, Chrissy Steffen, and redshirt junior Danielle Havel.

“There is a different team dynamic now, and aside from starting, and getting more minutes, being a captain has been a big transition,” Slagle said.

As the lone senior and a tri-captain, Slagle said there is a little more pressure on her, mostly from Miller, but in a good way, because she likes to be challenged.

She also said it is important for her to serve as an example – a role model.

“Being looked up to is one of the most important things because every player should want to leave a legacy,” Slagle said. “I can only hope they remember me for my work ethic and passion.”

One player who looks up to Slagle is Logan Pastor.

Pastor is a freshman point guard who has had sporadic minutes, due to her and Slagle’s interchangeability.

When Slagle is in the game, Pastor takes it as a learning opportunity. Slagle does everything you could ask for in a senior, he said.

“I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned, from Jess Slagle especially, is leadership,” Pastor said. “She is an emotional leader – leader by example … she has one of the best game faces on any player I’ve ever seen.”

Slagle said she has been challenged her whole career.

Early on in her career she tore her ACL, Roos said, and then sat the bench behind talented players. Now that she is finally getting some consistency in her routine, Slagle has become comfortable with her role.

“I’ve been pushed this year more than ever and I’m getting results,” Slagle said.

Pastor said nothing gets to her.

“She’s hard-nosed every game – tough, and she just keeps at it no matter what,” she said.

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