INDIANAPOLIS, IN. - The Bowling Green State University women's basketball team forged a second-half comeback, then held off a late surge by Butler University, en route to a 61-57 win Monday night (Nov. 18). The non-conference game was held at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse.
With the win, the Falcons improve to a perfect 4-0 on the season, while dropping the Bulldogs to 1-3. BG's start is the program's best since the 2007-08 team won the first six games of the year.
Redshirt sophomore Erica Donovan scored what proved to be the winning bucket with 27.8 seconds left, then blocked a BU three-point attempt in the final seconds to help secure the win.
Senior Alexis Rogers scored a game-high 17 points, while sophomore Miriam Justinger had 13. The duo combined for 21 of their 30 points in the second half as BGSU erased a five-point halftime deficit.
Justinger tied her career scoring and rebounding bests in the game, with six boards to go along with those 13 points.
Haley Howard scored 13 points to lead the Bulldogs, while Daress McClung added 12 and Liz Stratman 10.
The Falcons never led in the first half, and BGSU fell behind by as many as 11 points late in the period. The Brown and Orange roared back, however, taking the lead with just under 16 minutes left in the game and opening up a 10-point advantage less than three minutes later.
The hosts, however, battled back to tie the contest in the final minute, before Justinger drove the left baseline and found Donovan for the winning bucket.
Butler outrebounded BGSU by a 25-14 count in the opening half, and built that game-high 11-point lead before the Falcons scored the final six points of the period to cut the BU lead to 27-22 at the break.
After that 6-0 run to end the first half, the Falcons scored six of the first eight points of the second period, cutting Butler's lead to just one point on a pair of Justinger free throws with 17:06 remaining.
McClung scored inside for the Bulldogs, but Justinger answered with a bucket at the other end, and the Falcons took the lead for the first time, 32-31, on a hoop by junior Deborah Hoekstra with 15:53 to go.
The home team took a timeout, but the break did nothing to slow down the Falcons. Justinger stole the ensuing inbounds pass and headed all the way downcourt for a layup and a three-point lead. Then, Rogers came up with a steal and another layup, putting the Brown and Orange ahead, 36-31, with 14:53 left.
Ashton Feldhaus scored for the Bulldogs, but Rogers took a Hoekstra pass and hit another layup. Then, after the Falcons forced a miss, Rogers came up with a pair of offensive rebounds on the next possession. She was fouled after the second board, and hit the resulting free throws for a 40-33 lead.
BG forced a turnover, and Justinger drove and hit an 'and-one' jumper, drawing Stratman's fourth foul with 13:21 left. Justinger completed the three-point play to give the visitors a 10-point lead, 43-33.
BU responded with six-straight points, capped by a layup from Ijeoma Uchendu. Suddenly, the Falcons' lead was just four points with nearly 11 minutes still to go.
Senior Jill Stein put back a teammate's missed shot, and and junior Jasmine Matthews hit a pair of three-point field goals, one from each wing. The Bulldogs answered both three-pointers with triples of their own, however, with Mandy McDivitt's shot getting the hosts within six, 51-45, with 8:39 on the clock.
Senior Jillian Halfhill threw the ball inside to Rogers for a one-handed shot in the lane, and Donovan's foul-line jumper gave the Brown and Orange a 55-46 lead as the clock ticked under six minutes.
The Bulldogs scored after stealing a BG outlet pass, but Halfhill got herself to the line and hit a pair of shots out of the final media timeout of the game. BGSU led by nine points, 57-48, with 3:57 remaining.
But, the Bulldogs battled back. Taylor Schippers hit a layup, and a BG layup try would not drop. Howard got a tough spinning jumper to go, getting the hosts within 57-52 with 2:49 left.
BG used nearly all of the shot clock on the next possession, but could not convert. The Falcons got a stop on the next possession, however, and took a timeout with 2:01 to go.
On the ensuing possession, a Matthews three would not go down, and after a BG foul with 1:26 to go, Stratman hit a pair of charity tosses to make it a 57-54 game.
The Falcons turned the ball over, and Butler took a timeout with exactly one minute remaining. BU's Lexus Murry hit a runner from the right side with 51.9 seconds left. BG's lead was down to a single point.
Murry fouled Stein with 43.8 seconds remaining, but the senior could not get the front end of a one-and-one opportunity to drop. Rogers was called for a foul on the rebound, sending McClung to the line for two shots with 43.4 seconds left.
McClung hit the first free throw, tying the game, but she missed her second attempt, and Stein rebounded. The next possession saw Justinger drive the left baseline, firing a bounce pass to Donovan on the right side of the hoop. Donovan's layup gave the Falcons the lead with 27.8 seconds left.
The Bulldogs took a timeout with 25.1 seconds left. The next possession saw Howard force up a shot after a left-side drive, which was off the mark. Halfhill nearly rebounded the ball, but could not grab it before it went out of bounds to Butler with 8.9 seconds left.
The Falcons called a timeout, and Rogers tipped the BU inbounds pass away with 7.7 seconds to go.
After the next inbounds pass, the Bulldogs got the ball to McDivitt on the right wing, and she rose and shot from beyond the arc. Donovan rose off the rgound as well, though, blocking the shot. Justinger grabbed the ball out of the air and was fouled by Howard with just 0.6 seconds left. The sophomore hit two free throws to provide the final margin.
Donovan scored eight points, while Halfhill and Matthews added six apiece and Hoekstra five. Stein scored four points and led the Falcons with nine rebounds, while Rogers had eight boards and Justinger six.
McClung had a double-double, with 10 rebounds in addition to her 12 points. BU held a 37-34 advantage on the glass, but the Falcons outboarded the Bulldogs by a 20-12 count in the second half.
BGSU held advantages of 20-12 in points off turnovers and 17-10 in second-chance points.
The Falcons' busy November schedule continues, as BG heads to Columbus for three games in as many days this weekend. BGSU will participate in the Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge at Value City Arena from Friday through Sunday (Nov. 22-24), taking on Marist, Old Dominion and host Ohio State.
Junior forward Marquisha Harris and sophomore guard Alex Morton paced Western Michigan with 10 points each. Michelle O'Brien had nine points and a team-high six rebounds. Harris also had five boards while Morton had four.
After leading 9-6 with 13:34 remaining in the first half, WMU missed its next 13 attempts from the field covering nearly a 10-minute span. Michigan meanwhile, started to heat up and built a 36-18 lead by the half.
Western Michigan (2-2) continued to struggle from the floor after the break but a good showing at the free throw line helped the Broncos stay a little closer in the point column in the second half, where they were outscored by just 10. The Broncos made 17 second half free throws and went 21-for-27 from the line for the game.
Michigan (2-2) shot 42.9 percent from the floor and rebounded WMU, 59-29. The Broncos were held to 20.4 percent shooting and were 2-for-17 from three-point range.
Despite the loss, Western Michigan continues to lead the all-time series against the Wolverines, 15-12.
Western Michigan takes off for a two-game road trip this weekend, playing at Tulsa, Friday, Nov. 22 and at Arkansas, Sunday, Nov. 24. The Broncos then have a road game at Chicago State Dec. 1, before returning to Kalamazoo to host three in a row, beginning with IUPUI, Dec. 4.