|BG women face MAC showdown 2-19-14|
|Written by JACK CARLE, Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 19 February 2014 09:36|
The two top teams in the Mid-American Conference women's basketball race square-off tonight in the Stroh Center.
Bowling Green, 21-3 overall and 11-1 in the MAC, hosts Central Michigan, 16-7, 12-0. Tipoff is at 7.
Central Michigan beat the Falcons, 82-79 in overtime, just over a month ago.
''They are an extremely confident group. They have been down in multiple games by single digits or by double digits, and they don't have a panic in them,'' BG head coach Jennifer Roos said Monday. ''That kind of confidence is scary ... They have to ability to play an unbelievable 40 minutes each time out. They can turn it on anytime they want to. They have a different gear unlike any other team in this conference.''
In the first game, BG held an 11-point lead with 3:01 left in regulation, but Central Michigan took advantage of the Falcons' turnovers and closed the second half on a 12-1 run to force overtime. During CMU's late run, BG had five turnovers, missed one shot from the field, and went 1-of-4 from the free-throw line.
''We made some poor decisions passing the ball at certain times,'' Roos said about the first meeting between the two teams. BG had a season-high 27 turnovers in the game, leading to 28 CMU points.
''I told them I would take responsibility for that game,'' Roos added. ''I don't need them to have any self-doubt or to battle confidence issues. That was our big message.''
Roos said the Falcons have worked on avoiding areas where the Chippewas may try to trap the ball-handler, and emphasized the several CMU players like to jump into the passing lanes.
CMU's Crystal Bradford is second in the MAC with 66 steals.
''They were strong defensively in January when we played them, but they have amped it up to another level and are playing better defensively,'' Roos said.
The game features the top offensive team in the MAC, Central Michigan at 84.2 points per game, and the conference's top defense, BG allowing 56.3 ppg.
''It's two forces colliding again, but I will say that Central Michigan is playing so much better than what they were the first time we played them,'' Roos said. ''We'll have our hands full.
''I just can't say enough about their starters and their bench, and what they are doing offensively as well as what they have tweaked defensively,'' Roos added.
CMU has two players averaging a double-double this season. Bradford, a 6-foot junior, is averaging 19.5 points, and 11.8 rebounds per game, and Jas'Mine Bracey is averaging 11.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Bradford also leads the team with 100 assists.
Nikki DiGulio is averaging 13.8 ppg and Jessica Green is averaging 11.7 ppg.
Green scored 23 points in the first BG-CMU meeting while Bradford had 13 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, seven blocks, and eight steals with six turnovers.
''They are one of the best I've seen (in the MAC) from top to bottom,'' Roos said about the Chippewas. Roos has coached in the MAC for the last 13 years. ''They have a chance to make a lot of noise in the NCAA tournament. I know that's their goal.
''On Selection Monday, whatever team draws them had better watch out,'' she continued. ''Whoever plays them, had better not call me for a scout.''
The Falcons counter with Alexis Rogers, 14.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, Jillian Halfhill, 13.3 ppg and 73 assists, and Erica Donovan, 10.7 ppg. Jill Stein leads the team at 8.6 rebounds per game.
''At this time of the year, coaches can over-prepare, over-practice at times, and right now I'm worried about being extremely efficient in a short period of time in our preparation,'' Roos said. ''We have only nine healthy bodies, and some of those bodies are sick, and some are bruised from last game,'' she continued. ''We've got to be smart and efficient in our limited practice time.''
The game in Mt. Pleasant drew 2,161 fans, and Roos is hoping for another good crowd tonight.
''We'll need a tremendous crowd, and their support to help carry us through,'' Roos said. ''It definitely sends a positive message when you can feel the energy in the stands.''
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