It’s gotten so you can pretty much mark it on your calendar: Bowling Green State University’s women’s basketball team will play in a postseason tournament in March.
It has happened, after all, in each of the last nine years, with the Falcons qualifying for either the NCAA tournament or the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
The model of consistency that BGSU has been is further evidenced by its 10 straight seasons with at least 20 victories.
By winning 11 times in their first 13 games this season, including notable victories over the Big Ten’s Ohio State and Michigan, and briefly gaining votes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, the Falcons have let it be known that perhaps they are better than what may be expected from a team that was picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference East Division, behind Akron.
March is long way away, and the 10-2 nonconference record won’t mean anything again until then, when the wheels start turning in the postseason machines.
But unless the Falcons do well in the MAC regular season and/or tournament, there will be no postseason. And there’s nothing quite like conference play, in which the intensity jumps a couple of notches.
BGSU passed its first test this past Saturday by beating Buffalo 62-50 at the Stroh Center.
“Welcome to the new year and welcome to conference season,” Falcons coach Jennifer Roos said after the win over the Bulls. “It’s going to be a grind. There probably won’t be a lot of pretty games in conference play, as everybody knows, but for us to shoot 34 percent and still win by double digits, I’ll take that any day of the week.”
While the Falcons experienced some ups and downs in their performance against Buffalo, they got nothing other than a stellar outing from 6-foot-1 senior forward Alexis Rogers, who collected 22 points and 17 rebounds, including 10 offensive boards.
Rogers, a transfer from Duke, is in her third year at BGSU, so she well knows the vibe of MAC play.
“It did feel like opening the season again,” she said. “I know, personally, I had some nerves coming into this game that I hadn’t felt all season and I think it was a big part of conference play coming up.”
The fact that Buffalo was the opponent meant something to Rogers as well, as memories of last season stirred.
“For me, it was kind of personal because I broke my nose (at Buffalo) and then we came here and played them at our house, and in the first six minutes they hit my nose through the mask and I bled the whole rest of the game,” she said. “It was kind of personal, and I think that was some of the nerves coming into the game for me.”
Rogers is the Falcons’ leader this season in scoring at 13.2 points per game and rebounding at 8.4 per contest. Right behind her in both categories is Erica Donovan, a 5-11 sophomore transfer from North Carolina State who’s scoring 12.0 points and snaring 6.1 rebound per outing. Their abilities, along with those of the other BGSU players, both veterans and newcomers, may have been underestimated by some in the preseason poll.
The journey through the conference season will tell the tale.
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