Falcons hold off scrappy Norse, 78-68


You would never know that Bowling Green State University women’s basketball held the lead or the game was tied for all but one minute in a 76-68 victory over Northern Kentucky at the Stroh Center Wednesday.

The Norse always seemed to be within striking distance.

“It always felt like a one to three-possession game,” BGSU coach Robyn Fralick said. “Of course, that is really good. We have not had that this season.

“There is so much that is learned from that. You can practice it, but when the game lights are on and you have to get a stop, that is a whole different deal. It was some great experience tonight and some meaningful possessions.”

BGSU never faltered, getting key baskets at just the right time to improve to 4-1 on the season. The Norse fall to 3-2.

“It was a great challenge,” Fralick said. “I think Northern Kentucky is a great team. They’ve been a really dynamic offensive team so far this season. “It was our first close game. Of all our other games, it hasn’t come down to the last possessions like that.

“I also thought we had some critical stops and we had some kids made some critical, critical baskets, and that is going to be good for us this season as we stay in pursuit of continuing to get better.”

BGSU got four players in double figures, led by senior guard Elissa Brett, who had 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Allison Day, a 6-foot-1 senior forward, had 15 points, scoring 13 in the first half. Fralick said the early gameplan was to get the ball inside to Day and go from there.

“Our inside game, I thought Allison had a great start,” Fralick said. “That is something we probably could have done better, going back to it, in finding ways to score inside. But that is something we will learn from.”

Day added, “We were just trying to play in transition, but if I’m open, I’ll go one on one and I’m going to try and go score, but if they draw to me, I look for that other person.”

Sophomore guard Amy Velasco had 13 points and five rebounds, and sophomore guard Jocelyn Tate had a double-double 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The Falcons had to deal with a failure to hit shots from outside the three-point arc, going 0-for-9 in the first half.

Finally, with 6:45 remaining in the third quarter, Velasco hit a trey followed by another three-point goal by Brett on the Falcons’ next possession.

“It’s our gym so we have the confidence to keep shooting,” Day said. “We need to do that whether we are home or away, but I think we were trying to stay in our offense, keep driving, keep attacking, keep making shots and we were trying to come back off of that.”

Still, the Norse kept pace, keeping it a one or two score game for much of the third quarter.

The Falcons led the entire fourth quarter, but the Norse trimmed the lead to four points midway through the quarter, and it came down to the Falcons’ closing the deal in the final minute.

“I think we learned a lot from that last minute, last 45 seconds — when to take shots, and coach said there was a lot of good things to learn from and thankfully we did more good things than we did bad things,” Day said.

The Falcons finished the game 28-for-63 (44%) from the field, made 16-of-23 free throws (70%) and were 4-for-17 (24%) from beyond the arc, making all four treys in the second half.

BGSU held a narrow 39-38 advantage off the glass, but the Falcons were guilty of 24 turnovers, while forcing 14 by the Norse.

BGSU had a 48-38 advantage in scoring in the paint, 22-11 advantage in fast break scoring, and the Falcons’ bench outscored the Norse’ bench, 23-10.

Defensively, the Falcons had to deal with the speed and scrappy Northern Kentucky guards, including 5-4 senior Ivy Turner, who had 15 points, seven rebounds and four steals.

NKU guard Lindsey Duvall, a 5-8 graduate student, had 16 points and five rebounds, and 5-7 sophomore guard Khamari Mitchell-Steen had 12 points, five rebounds and she blocked two shots.

In addition, 5-2 sophomore guard Kailee Davis was a thorn in BGSU’s side, scoring nine points with five assists.

“They are dynamic, they are good at making plays off the dribble, finishing in different ways, they have good spacing the way they play,” Fralick said.

“I thought we let them loose. We put them on the free throw line too much, and that was something we really didn’t want to do,” Fralick continued.

“But give them credit. They have a number of kids who can make plays off the dribble. That will be something for us to see and get better at moving forward.”

Day said it was a challenge keeping up with the Norse guards’ speed.

“Their guards are super quick, super fast, and we have quick guards, too, but it’s just hard to keep them in front,” Day said. “We were just trying to force them baseline, force them into our help and do the best we could to not foul, but they kept drawing those fouls.”

The Norse were 22-for-59 from the field (37%), 21-for-26 (81%) from the charity stripe, and made 3-of-15 free throws.

For Northern Kentucky, 6-1 center Emmy Souder had six points and 13 rebounds, senior forward Tayah Irvin scored six points, and junior guard Ellie Taylor and sophomore forward Trinity Thompson added two points apiece.

For BGSU, junior guard Nyla Hampton had five points, five assists and four steals and senior guard Morgan Sharpe scored five points.

BGSU junior guard Lexi Fleming had four points and five rebounds and junior forward Sophie Dziekan scored four points.

“I’m excited because I just feel this team is going to keep evolving and developing and I think we’ll continue to get better,” Fralick said.

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