Nyla Hampton and her Bowling Green State University women’s basketball teammates set the tone early in the Falcons’ home opener Monday.
BGSU opened the home portion of the schedule with a 102-72 victory over Wright State University at the Stroh Center.
Hampton scored a career-high 24 points, and helped the Falcons (2-0) jump on top early.
“I noticed they were playing off me, so just taking those shots when I had it, and when I had my feet set, and then attacking that space and just finishing up and over people,” Hampton said.
BGSU scored six points in the game’s first 42 seconds, with Hampton and Jocelyn Tate combining for all three buckets in that time.
“I thought it was great setting the tone for the game,” BGSU coach Robyn Fralick said.
“I thought we had a lot of energy and enthusiasm. But it’s six points, and over 40 minutes, you know that’s just a small piece.
“But I did love the way we set the tone in the game and even beyond that.”
Hampton had three steals and the Falcons forced eight turnovers in the first quarter alone.
“Honestly, we always say that we are going to come out and throw the first punch in the game, so that’s what we did,” Hampton said.
“We know our abilities, we know our strengths, and we know that defense is one of them that we pride ourselves on, so that is what basically got us involved and it just really rolled out from there.”
Fralick added, “I loved how aggressive she was. She was so aggressive on both ends of the court.
“That’s what so great about Nyla – she has been a really good player for us since she got here. But she’s really developed this offseason, in so many areas of her game. I think we simply saw that.”
An Allison Day field goal gave the Falcons eight points in the game’s first minute, and BG never looked back.
Hampton’s career night paced four double-digit scorers for the Falcons.
Tate had 13 points in under nine minutes of action, while Amy Velasco also scored 13 points in the win. Elissa Brett had a double-double, with 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Hampton says the Falcons found a way to take advantage of Wright State’s defense.
“I think just the way they helped, we were able to read and find the extra person, make those extra passes,” Hampton said.
“Honestly, we have a really deep team, so they can try and take away from one person but that next person is going to step up, and if they get that taken away, the next person steps up. It makes us really hard to guard.”
The Falcons had a whopping 62 points in the paint, and BGSU scored 25 points off of WSU turnovers. BGSU forced the Raiders into 21 turnovers, while committing just seven.
“I think we talked zbout last year how we didn’t take as much pride in our defense, and that got away from us,” Hampton said.
“So, a lot of us this year and over the summer and preseason and everything, we focused on locking in on defense and making sure we do take pride in guarding our matchup and being aggressive on that end.
“I think that’s the confidence with our defense, and it just proves the point to what happens when we really lock in on ‘D’, and dig, it shows us what the results can be.”
Fralick added, “The game gets a lot simpler when you can find ways to win possessions. Whether that is turnover margin, rebounding, field goal percentage – whatever that looks like.
“When you can force turnovers, usually its an advantage in situations. I thought we did a good job our first very game, when we opened at St; Bonaventure (77-61 BGSU win), we forced a lot of turnovers, but didn’t convert very well. I thought we did a much better job tonight converting those tonight.”
Emily Chapman led the Raiders (0-2) with 14 points.
Hampton said the Falcons played off the energy brought to the Stroh Center by an enthusiastic crowd, too.
“It’s so exciting. We always say the energy at the Stroh is always electric,” Hampton said.
“We have the best fans, we have the best community that supports us, so it’s always an unreal feeling to hear the fans yell.”
Fralick added, “What a fun night. I mean, it’s our home opener. It’s so great – the last few years we’ve had a lot of restrictions.
“To have the crowd rocking to start the game with six points in about 15 seconds – it was a really fun opener.”
The Falcons now hit the road for a pair of games in the Hoosier State later this week.
BGSU heads to Bloomington to take on Indiana on Thursday, Nov. 17, with tipoff set for 7 p.m. at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
“I think the biggest takeaway from this game is going to be sustaining on ‘D,’” Hampton said.
“Obviuosly, we know Indiana is a really good team so we are going to ahve to really dig in and keep playing and keep sustaining our defense throughout the entire four quarters.”
Fralick believes her team is maturing.
Fralick added, “We’ve played a lot of young kids, and now they are not so young. I think that what we saw tonight was a synergy of kids who have now played together for a period of time.
“When you do that and when they understand the system and they understand each other, there’s a better rhythm. Tonight, I think we saw some really good rhythm.”
She says the Falcons are learning to play as a unit, too.
Its fun being on a team. I think something we value in our program is playing like a team, being a team, being a connected team, being part of the spirit of a team,” Fralick said.
“Tonight, I felt that with the kids who were on the court and the kids who were on the bench. You have got to continue to journey through that throughout a season.”