Relentless defense propels Falcons to 79-63 win

On the defensive end of the floor, Bowling Green women’s basketball forced 30 turnovers, including 12 steals, in defeating Eastern Michigan, 79-63, at the Stroh Center Saturday.

The Falcons grab their first Mid-American Conference win of the season after opening with a loss to Ball State, and improve to 12-2 overall. Eastern Michigan falls to 9-4 and 1-1.

On the offensive end, BGSU 6-foot-1 senior forward Allison Day was 10-for-12 from the field in scoring 21 points with two assists. She scored mostly in the paint, working against taller defenders.

“She’s a great player,” BGSU coach Robyn Fralick said. “She’s really added a dimension for us this year and we really needed it.

“I thought tonight she was patient, she had great counter moves and she did a really good job finishing.”

Day said finishing against taller post players requires discipline.

“Since they are so tall, I knew I had to be aggressive from the start,” Day said. “Once I was able to score a couple, I was like, ‘OK, I’ll just keep going.’ I’m supposed to be patient and try to make moves, so that is what I do.”

Senior guard Elissa Brett was 5-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-5 from downtown, in scoring 20 points. Brett also had six rebounds and she was fouled six times.

However, it was the play of junior guard Nyla Hampton that impacted the game on both ends of the floor.

Hampton scored 12 points on mostly layups from five steals, making 5-for-6 from the floor. The Falcons outscored the Eagles 32-12 in points off turnover, and Hampton played a huge role in that.

“She’s an incredible defender. She has this amazing mix of where she can pressure the ball and she just has great timing of when to get into a passing lane,” Fralick said.

“She had a number of steals, but she had a ton of deflections that don’t even show up in the boxscore. She does a good job setting the tone of our defense.”

The Falcons scored 31 more points than the Eagles when Hampton was on the floor, which was the highest impact by any player in the game. Hampton also had three assists and blocked two shots.

The Falcons opened on a 13-0 run and were up 20-9 after one quarter, forcing seven turnovers, including four steals.

Almost five minutes had passed before Eastern Michigan senior guard Natalia Pineda hit a triple for the Eagles’ first points.

The second quarter saw the Falcons’ relentless defense force nine turnovers, including six more steals.

However, Eastern controlled the boards by a 9-2 margin in the second stanza and climbed back into the game. Eastern sophomore guard Zaniya Nelson scored in the paint with over three minutes remaining to bring the Eagles back to within four, 29-25.

Brett and Hampton then led BGSU on a 9-0 run with Brett scoring five points on a triple and a layup and Hampton scoring four points on a steal and a layup plus she hit two free throws.

Brett hit a triple with 35 seconds remaining to give the Falcons a 41-32 halftime lead. Already, BGSU had a 24-7 advantage in points off turnovers, forcing 16 in the first half.

It was the third quarter that set the tone as the Falcons scored 21 points in the first five minutes and grabbed a 68-42 lead entering the final stanza. The Falcons’ biggest lead was 28 early in the fourth quarter.

“I thought the start of the third quarter we really set the tone for the second half,” Fralick said. “If you have good, sustained pressure over the course of the game, it can be really disruptive, and I thought we were able to do that, especially at the start of the third quarter.”

Day said the Falcons’ focus is always about getting good starts in every quarter to set the tone.

“The first five minutes of evert quarter is really important to us and I think the first quarter and third quarter have been consistent for us,” Day said.

“We just knew we had to take care of business. That defensive effort wasn’t the best in the second quarter, so we knew we had to better.”

For the Falcons, sophomore guard Jocelyn Tate had six points, four rebounds and two assists, senior guard Morgan Sharps scored six points on two three-point goals, and junior guard Lexi Fleming scored six points.

Sophomore guard Amy Velasco had two points, three assists and three steals and 6-2 junior forward Sophie Dziekan, senior forward Kadie Hempfling, and junior forward Olivia Hill added two points each.

Sophomore guard Lachelle Austin led Eastern with 21 points, two assists and two steals, and freshman guard Olivia Smith had 15 points, four assists, and two steals, but the two combined for 12 turnovers.

Sophomore guard Zaniya Nelson had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Tayra Eke, a 6-3 sophomore center from Spain, just scored two points but had a team-high 10 rebounds.

BGSU had 15 turnovers and was outrebounded 37-27. The Falcons shot 48% from the floor, making 28-of-59 shots, including 6-for-17 (35%) from downtown, and were 17-for-22 (77%) from the free throw line.

Eastern shot 41% (21-for-51) from the field, was 8-fosr-20 (40%) from beyond the arc, and made 13-of-18 free throws (72%)