1:00 PM ET, March 11, 2006
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Even though Bowling Green limited Kent State to 13 first-half points, it wasn't good enough for coach Curt Miller.
It's that kind of discipline that has led the Falcons to 19 consecutive wins and their second straight Mid-American Conference tournament title.
Carin Horne scored 16 points and Bowling Green (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP) held Kent State to a season-low point total in a 64-39 victory Saturday, earning the Falcons an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
They are the fifth team to go unbeaten in MAC conference play and have won 25 straight league games.
"To have the bulls eye on our back the entire year and finish off the season 28-2, what an unbelievable storybook ending to a fantastic year," Miller said.
Miller's players laughed in the locker room at halftime when he told them that Kent State (21-9) could have easily scored 30 on them.
Horne teased her coach about his perfectionism after the game.
"If you mess up, he goes crazy," she said with a grin. "He's a great coach."
Tournament MVP Ali Mann and Liz Honegger scored 14 points each. Kate Achter had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The Falcons never trailed, dominating the boards 41-23 and shutting down MAC player of the year Lindsay Shearer.
"She's always a tough assignment," Honegger said. "We tried to limit her catches and take her out of it."
Shearer, who led the MAC with a 20.9 point average, attempted two shots in the first half.
"It wasn't a slow start. We never started," Shearer said. "We didn't play with any sense of urgency."
Shearer finished with 18 points, most coming after the game was out of reach. The senior forward set a MAC tournament record with 44 points in a losing effort against Bowling Green in last season's title game.
The Falcons, who don't have a senior in their starting lineup, are in The AP Top 25 poll for the first time since 1994.
Freshman Jasmine McCall dribbled out the final seconds at half court while Achter and her teammates bounced up and down on the sideline.
Bowling Green jumped on Kent State to open the second half, led by Honegger, whose 3-pointer made it 38-17 with 16:55 left.
Kent State ripped off a 12-0 run fueled by Shearer and Sarah Burgess, who made a three-point play after missing her first nine shots, to pull within 38-29.
But Horne widened the lead, scoring seven of the Falcons' next nine points. Miller credited her for her ability to score even though few plays are run for her.
"I pick up the scrap plays and I'm content with that," said Horne, who had nine rebounds.
Malika Willoughby got her fourth foul with 8:32 left and threw her mouth guard to the floor in frustration. She was called for a technical foul and left with eight points.
The Golden Flashes shot 32 percent from the field and were 1-for-7 from 3-point range.
"We were beaten by a team that completely outplayed us in every aspect of the game," Kent State coach Bob Lindsay said.
The Golden Flashes, who were seeking their first MAC tourney title since 2002, are now 3-8 in MAC championship games.
In last season's NCAA Tournament, 13th-seeded Bowling Green lost to fourth-seeded Kansas State 70-60 in opening round.
The perfectionism Miller has instilled in his players has them poised to do better this time.
"Last year, we were just excited to be there," Mann said. "We have even higher expectations. We want to prove something to the rest of the country."
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||16-47 (.340)||20-45 (.444)|
|3P Made-Attempted||1-7 (.143)||6-14 (.429)|
|FT Made-Attempted||6-6 (1.000)||18-23 (.783)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||16 (0/0)||10 (0/0)|