BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The Bowling Green State University women's basketball team used a team effort to post a 56-43 win over the University at Buffalo on Thursday night (Feb. 28). The Mid-American Conference game was held at the Stroh Center.
The victory improves the Falcons' records to 18-9 overall and 9-5 in MAC play. The Bulls drop to 9-18 and 7-7, respectively.
All 10 BGSU players who saw action on Thursday night scored between two and 12 points. Junior Jillian Halfhill had a team-high 12 points, while senior Chrissy Steffen had a double-double, with 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Falcons held a 43-33 rebounding advantage, and BG had a 25-16 edge on the boards in the second half. The Brown and Orange went 17-of-22 from the free-throw line on the night, while the Bulls shot just four charity tosses, making three.
Halfhill and fellow junior Jill Stein each had well-rounded stat lines. In addition to her 12 points, Halfhill had seven rebounds, a game-high four assists, three steals and two blocks. She tied for game honors in the steals department.
Stein had eight points and eight rebounds off the bench, and added three assists and a game-best three blocked shots.
Mackenzie Loesing had a game-high 15 points for the Bulls, while Margeaux Gupilan scored 10. The Falcons held Gupilan scoreless in the second half.
Despite getting off to a frigid start at the offensive end of the court, BGSU never trailed after the 15:28 mark of the first half. The Falcons spotted the Bulls the first three points of the game on a Gupilan three-point field goal with over two minutes gone, but Falcon fifth-year senior Danielle Havel came up with a steal and fed a trailing Halfhill for a transition three at the 16:21 mark, tying the score and beginning a 9-0 run for the home team.
Freshman Miriam Justinger fed redshirt junior Alexis Rogers for a layup that gave the Falcons the lead for good, and Justinger then was on the receiving end of a long pass by Steffen. A one-on-one move by Rogers resulted in a short jumper and a 9-3 advantage at the 13:46 mark.
Rogers, who suffered a broken nose in the Falcons' first meeting vs. Buffalo this season (Feb. 7, 2013), played just six minutes on Thursday night after being hit in the face early in the opening half.
Loesing hit a jumper with 13:13 left before halftime, but UB then went over six minutes without scoring. The Bulls were stuck on five points until only 6:46 remained in the period.
In the meantime, the Falcons went on a 10-0 run. Halfhill and Stein each got to the free-throw line and hit a pair of shots, and after a scoreless drought of more than three minutes, Steffen came off of a screen and hit a three-pointer for a 16-5 BG lead. Halfhill got back to the stripe and split her two tosses with 7:47 on the clock, and after freshman Bailey Cairnduff went to the floor to tie up a UB player and give her team the ball, junior Katrina Salinas fed senior Allison Papenfuss for a short banker and a 19-5 advantage.
Over the first 13 minutes of the game, the Bulls shot just 2-of-17 from the floor and committed 11 turnovers. Then, however, UB heated up, making three-straight shots. Loesing hit a jumper in traffic at the 6:46 mark, then stole the ball and went in for an uncontested layup. The freshman then fed Gupilan for a three-pointer, and the Bulls were within seven points, 19-12, with five minutes to go in the period.
Steffen, however, responded by driving and drawing a foul just 11 seconds later, knocking down the resulting free throws for a nine-point lead. A Gupilan jumper at the shot-clock horn, though, was followed by a Cherridy Thornton three-pointer, and suddenly, the Bulls were within four.
The Falcons responded with six-straight points to retake a double-digit lead. Halfhill assisted on layups by both Stein and Havel, and the junior point guard then got to the line and knocked down a pair of tosses with under a minute left in the half. Gupilan's jumper cut BG's lead to 27-19 at the break.
Both teams made 8-of-25 shots in the first half, and the Falcons had a slim 18-17 rebounding advantage. BGSU did, however, force the Bulls into 14 first-half turnovers, and the hosts had a 14-5 margin in points off turnovers. And, the Falcons were 9-of-12 from the free-throw line, while UB did not get to the stripe in the opening half.
At the start of the second half, Steffen's free throws were answered by a Kristen Sharkey layup. But, Stein and Justinger hit transition layups as part of a 6-0 run. First, Justinger hit an open Stein with a nifty bounce pass, and Halfhill then found Justinger for a driving layup in transition. The Falcons' lead was 33-21 as the Bulls used a timeout.
BG got the ball back, and Justinger again spotted Stein for a layup and a 14-point advantage. But, back battled Buffalo, as Sloane Walton's three-ball sparked a 9-0 run. Loesing hit two shots from the stripe, Thornton knocked down a jumper and a Loesing steal and layup got the Bulls within just five points, 35-30, with 13:04 to go.
Papenfuss grabbed an offensive rebound in traffic and converted a tough layup, though, and Stein's pass found sophomore Deborah Hoekstra swooping in from the left side for a layup and a nine-point lead. Christa Baccas hit a jumper for the visitors, but a Steffen three-pointer gave the Falcons a 42-32 advantage with 10:46 remaining.
Two Halfhill charity tosses put the hosts up by 12, as the Bulls were starting to get in some foul trouble. Both Loesing and Thornton had four fouls with over nine minutes left in the game, after Baccas had committed three fouls in the first half.
Cairnduff made two shots from the stripe, and Justinger's second-chance three gave the Brown and Orange a 49-34 lead with 5:57 to go. After Loesing answered with a trey, Salinas scored from beyond the arc, and the lead was back to 15 with 4:30 remaining.
UB battled to within nine points on a Baccas layup at the 2:04 mark, but Loesing was whistled for a flagrant two foul and ejected from the game with 1:53 left. Havel made the ensuing free throws, with BG keeping the ball, and the possession ended with a Halfhill layup with the shot clock winding down. That shot closed the scoring with 1:26 left.
For the game, the Falcons shot 32.7 percent from the floor. BGSU held UB to a 30.4% success rate for the game, including a 9-for-31 showing (29.0%) in the second half.
Justinger had seven points for the Falcons, while three players scored four points apiece. That group included Havel, who also had eight rebounds in the win.
Baccas had seven points and a team-leading nine rebounds for the Bulls, while Thornton scored five points.
The Falcons are back at home on Sunday (March 3), facing Ohio University at the Stroh. Tipoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., with 'Senior Day' festivities preceeding the game. BGSU closes the regular season on Wednesday (March 6) at Kent State University.