Bowling Green State University 6-foot-1 senior forward Allison Day scored 31 points to lead the Falcons to an 88-76 victory over Mid-American Conference rival Toledo at the Stroh Center Wednesday.
BGSU, at 14-2 overall and 4-1 in the MAC, stays in a first-place tie with Akron (11-3, 4-1) and Ball State (13-4, 4-1).
Toledo, a team which defeated Cincinnati, a ranked Michigan team, and lost to Penn State by one point, falls to 12-4 and 3-2.
“First of all, I thought Allison Day was spectacular tonight,” Toledo coach Tricia Cullop said. “We knew how good she was because we saw her when she played for Loyola.
“We scrimmaged them and I was extremely impressed. I knew she would add a dimension to the BG team, and she did. Having an inside threat with the three-point shooters they have surrounding makes it very difficult to match up with them.”
Day was the final piece of the puzzle for BGSU coach Robyn Fralick. Day transferred before this season from Loyola Chicago, where she played for then-Loyola coach Kate Achter, a BGSU hall of famer. At BGSU, she has not disappointed.
“She was fired up,” Fralick said. “She wanted to come to Bowling Green where women’s basketball had enthusiasm and fans and tonight she got to experience that at the highest level.”
Day may have heard about the BG-Toledo rivalry first from Achter, but experiencing it in front of close to 3,000 fans was something new.
“I think it was really cool,” Day said. “I think my teammates did a good job of preparing me for what that feels like — the rivalry and what the Stroh is going to feel like.
“The Stroh is great every game, but especially with Toledo here, it was really cool to be a part of.”
Day was dominant in the paint, making 13-of-21 field goals and grabbing seven rebounds, including four on the offensive glass. She was fouled six times and had two assists.
“She was a workhouse. She was a monster,” Fralick said. “We knew from last season that was something we really had to address to take our team to another level, to add that dimension.
“Then tonight, she was really hard to guard. She either scored, got fouled, or drew a lot of people. I was proud of her. We asked her to do a lot. That is tiring to be asked to constantly keep working and get the ball and finish in tough spaces.”
As a result of Day’s dominance inside, the Falcons outscored the Rockets 46-24 in the paint. Day said preparing for Toledo paid off.
“They are a really good team and preparing for a good team you know what to expect,” Day said. “You don’t think you are going to blow them out or anything, you are going to play your game. That’s what we focused on was just us and that is how we are going to play the rest of the season.”
By halftime, Day had already scored 19 points, making 9-of-13 field goals, so Toledo knew they had to do something about her.
“We talked about that at halftime,” said Toledo junior guard Sammi Mikonowicz. “Again, that is something that is on us.
“We knew that was going to happen,” Mikonowicz continued. “We knew that their post play was good. It wasn’t a shock to us at all, and we knew we needed to be more physical in that second half.”
The Falcons’ defense played a major role, too, forcing 22 turnovers on a team that typically commits closer to 12.
The Falcons lead the nation in the plus-turnover department, and that will likely remain unchanged because the Falcons were plus-nine against the Rockets, committing 13.
Eight of Toledo’s turnovers were the result of offensive player control fouls, and 12 came on steals. The Falcons outscored the Rockets 25-12 in points off turnovers.
The Falcons shot 51% from the field (29-for-57), including 33% (5-for-15) from the arc, and got five players into double figures.
Sophomore guard Jocelyn Tate was 6-for-9 from the field, scoring 13 points with six rebounds, four assists, and four steals.
Junior guard Nyla Hampton only had one field goal, but was 9-for-10 from the free throw line in scoring 11 points, plus she had two assists and two steals.
Junior guard Lexi Fleming and sophomore guard Amy Velasco combined to score all 21 of their points in the second half after starting senior guard Morgan Sharps went down with an injury with 3:16 remaining in the first half.
Before Sharps’ injury, the Rockets’ bench outscored the Falcons’, 20-0, but in big part because of Fleming and Vasquez, the Falcons’ bench outscored the Rockets’ 24-7 in the second half.
Fleming had 11 points, six assists and she was fouled five times, and Velasco was 2-for-2 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line, scoring 10 points.
BGSU senior guard Elissa Brett had nine points, five rebounds and two steals, senior forward Kadie Hempfling scored three points, and Sharps had two steals before leaving the game.
In a game that saw 61 free throws attempted, BG was 25-for-32 (78%) and the Rockets were 24-for-29 (83%). The Rockets were 22-for-47 from the floor (47%) and 8-for-21 (38%) from beyond the arc.
Toledo senior guard Quinesha Lockett led the Rockets with 27 points, making 7-of-16 shots and 11-of-11 free throws, plus Lockett had two assists and two steals and was fouled eight times.
Junior forward Nan Garcia hit 3-of-4 from downtown in scoring 15 points and Mikonowicz, a junior guard, had 13 points and four rebounds, but the Rossford graduate was not pleased with the outcome.
“It’s always difficult no matter how you lose, but especially this one. We beat ourselves out there. There is no reason we can’t beat them, but it was just our mistakes that we kept making. So, we’ve got a lot to work on,” Mikonowicz said.
Toledo senior guard Jayda Jensen scored nine points and senior guard Sophia Wiard had four points and six assists.
Junior guard Khera Goss and senior guard Justina King scored three apiece and 6-2 sophomore forward Jessica Cook had two points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals for the Rockets.