Despite outscoring first-place Ohio across the final three quarters in its first meeting a month ago, Bowling Green’s nine-point first quarter was too much to overcome in a 10-point loss.
The Falcons opened Wednesday’s game with 20 points in the first 10 minutes, dared Ohio’s most lethal scorer to shoot from the perimeter and maintained a halftime lead for a XX-XX statement win in Mid-American Conference play at the Stroh Center.
Bowling Green, which remains last in the MAC, improved to 9-18 overall and 2-13 in the conference. Ohio, which lost consecutive games for the first time since mid-December, fell to 17-9 and maintained its top spot in the East division at 10-5.
“That just shows our perseverance. We’ve competed with everybody in the MAC on any night, we’ve just fallen short,” BG guard Madisen Parker said. “It’s a little deceiving, so tonight to come out and prove that we’re capable of beating the best team in our conference and we can not only beat them, but beat them by a big margin. It was rewarding.”
Despite one conference win through 14 games entering Wednesday, the Falcons never quit.
“The reality is we’ve been so close so many times, so there’s no other answer but to just stick with it. Tonight, what was great is we had a lead, and we kept a lead,” BG head coach Robyn Fralick said.
“You can’t teach experience and we’ve had a lot of those. We’ve had a lot of experience this year. But man, what a testament to a team. It’s easy to quit, that’s the easy way. And we haven’t chosen that.”
Madisen Parker connected on a left-wing three following a Kadie Hempfling steal to give BG an early 14-5 lead.
Then freshman Olivia Trice, in response to a 10-0 Ohio run, scored seven of the next eight Bowling Green points to re-claim a 22-17 lead after a putback layup to open the second quarter.
Trice ended the third quarter with an off-the-dribble stepback 3-pointer to extend the Falcons’ lead to nine and opened the fourth quarter with another bucket, corralling an errant tipped pass before slicing through the lane for a floater to keep the nine-point lead.
“She was incredible for us. What a spark, offensively, and defensively too. I thought she did a good job,” Fralick said. “She’s been working, she’s been in the gym working on her game extra. It translates. … Tonight she played like she’s been working, she shot it like she’s been working on it. She was huge for us.”
Trice finished with her first career double-digit scoring game with a career-high 17 points in 24 minutes off the bench before fouling out in the final moments.
Parker’s shooting prowess kept BG afloat.
With just a one-point halftime lead, Parker immediately opened the second half with a triple from the left wing. And after back-to-back Caterrion Thompson 3s — both a product of offensive rebounds — Parker buried a three from the left corner for BG’s largest lead of the game until the final five minutes, 49-36.
Parker, who is third in the nation with a 47.2% 3-point efficiency, fired 11 shots — all from deep — and made seven of them for a game-high 21 points.
The Falcons’ defense on the conference’s No. 3 scorer stymied the Bobcats all evening.
BG forced Cierra Hooks, fresh off a conference-leading 41-point game against Akron, to shoot from the outside. With a defender never closer than 10 feet when she had possession behind the arc, Hooks began passing on wide open 3-point opportunities.
“She’s really good. She’s one of the best players in our league. She’s really good around the basket,” Fralick said. “That was our game plan going in, she hit a few threes in the first half, but we knew we were going to stick with it.”
The junior guard knocked down her first triple, but after two straight misses, became hesitant and finished the first half 4-of-11 and 2-of-6 from deep. Hooks, who shoots less than 25% from 3-point range despite scoring 18.7 points per game, finished with 15 points and two assists on 5-of-16 (31.3%) shooting and 2-of-7 (28.6%) from deep.
Hooks, who got her third foul late in the first half, fouled out with 4:26 to play in the fourth quarter.