Bowling Green State University freshman guard Amy Velasco and redshirt-sophomore guard Morgan Sharps came off the bench to score 17 points each, leading the Falcons to a 69-53 win over Valparaiso at the Stroh Center Sunday.
“I thought it was a great team win,” BGSU coach Robyn Fralick said. “I think we saw some growth.”
It is BGSU’s first win since routing East Tennessee State, 90-58, in the season opener. Since, the Falcons have lost four straight games, including two at the Navy Classic.
“We wanted this one really bad and we were willing to do anything to get it and I think that showed,” Sharps said.
“It helps the growth a lot, just to get another win. It’s just a confidence booster for us, for sure,” Velasco added.
Velasco scored on five straight third quarter drives, helping the Falcons to a 15-5 run and a 46-29 lead, their biggest of the game. She credited finding a way to beat her defender five straight times to the Falcons’ scouts.
“I think our scouts really helped with that. We knew who to drive on and who had a hard time staying in front,” Velasco said.
Velasco was 8-for-11 from the field, but all three misses were from beyond the 3-point arc, where she went 1-for-4. The 17 points was her career high.
Velasco also had three assists, two steals and took a charge on defense, resulting in one of Valparaiso’s 18 turnovers.
Sharps, a transfer from Xavier, was 5-for-7 from behind the arc and 6-for-9 from the field.
“Obviously, I let the game come to me,” Sharps said. “Just in transition, I got open a lot and I just let it fire. Everyone is confident in me, so I just let it fall.”
Both are Ohio natives — the 5-foot-7 Velasco from Centerville and the 5-10 Sharps from Granville.
Velasco started early in the season, but did not mind coming off the bench, still getting the third most minutes of any Falcon. Against Valpo, BGSU’s bench outscored the Beacons’ bench, 43-12.
“If that is what is best for the team then that is what is best for the team,” Velasco said. “I’m happy to be a sub.”
There was one hitch — after Velasco helped her team rally in the third, the Beacons made a 16-3 run to close the quarter, closing the gap to four, 49-45.
Fralick said she had a message for her team during the quarter break.
“The message was to get stops. I felt like we just fell asleep off the ball. That was the biggest message. When we get stops then when we play good basketball,” Fralick said.
“When anyone gets stops, they have a chance to go on runs, and to take care of the ball. When they went on a run, we turned it over and they hit threes, which you can’t do that.”
Valpo senior guard Shay Frederick hit another 3-point shot to open the fourth quarter, closing the gap to one, 49-48, but then the Falcons went on a 20-5 run to put the game away.
Valpo, which had 11 treys, came into the game winless in seven games, including three losses to Mid-American Conference teams, so the Falcons were not willing to become the Beacons’ first victim.
“It’s just knowing that we can do it,” Sharps said. “We were up by 17, and we can regain that lead as easy as we did that, in the fourth quarter. “
Velasco added, “We just had to lock in, and we did.”
Fralick credited the defense for the Falcons’ fourth quarter dominance.
“Valpo made a great run back at us and I loved our response,” Fralick said.
“I think that was a growth from where we were a few weeks ago — to extend the lead and get stops and hold them to eight points in the fourth quarter.
“The fourth quarter we took much better care of the ball. and we did a much better job guarding and rebounding.”
BGSU outrebounded Valpo, 42-22, and the Falcons had 17 second chance points while the Beacons had none. As a result of 13 offensive rebounds, BGSU outscored Valpo in the paint, 42-18.
“That was a big challenge for us,” Velasco said. “Since we started, in rebounding we’ve struggled a little bit, so I think we really took advantage of that.”
For BGSU, sophomore guard Kenzie Lewis scored five points with a team-high nine rebounds and five assists. Sophomore guard Nyla Hampton had eight points, three steals and two assists.
BGSU junior guard Elissa Brett had seven points, three assists and five rebounds, including four offensive rebounds and she blocked two shots.
BGSU 6-2 sophomore forward Sophie Dziekan contributed six points and senior forward Katie Hampfling had four points and seven rebounds.
Freshman forward Jocelyn Tate scored three points, had six caroms, and blocked two shots, and 6-0 freshman forward Zoe Miller contributed two points.
For the Beacons, redshirt senior guard Carie Weinman had 15 points, three assists, and three steals, fifth-year guard Grace White had 12 points, four assists, nine rebounds and three steals.
Frederick contributed 11 points and five assists to the Beacons’ cause.