EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Bowling Green made NCAA Tournament history for its entire conference.
The Falcons became the first team in the Mid-American Conference to reach the round of 16, edging Vanderbilt 59-56 in the second round of the Greensboro Regional on Tuesday night.Amber Flynn scored 19 for the Falcons (31-3), who face No. 3 seed Arizona State on Saturday."Don't pinch me," Bowling Green coach Curt Miller said. "Amazing. Our defensive game plan, and the execution of the game plan on one-day prep was phenomenal. We didn't want to give up any easy 3-point shots to the best 3-point shooting team in the country."Liz Sherwood scored 18 for Vanderbilt (28-6), but the Commodores' second-half comeback fell short. Carla Thomas added 12 points and 10 rebounds."Bowling Green did a great job preparing for us in a short amount of time," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. "They took a lot of things away from our offense, and we didn't respond very well."Vanderbilt trailed by 13 at halftime, but used pressure defense and clutch shooting to cut the lead to 52-49 with 1:50 remaining.Ali Mann's 3-pointer gave Bowling Green a 55-49 lead with 55 seconds left."We were in a scoring drought, but they lost track of Ali," Bowling Green's Carin Horne said. "That's a big mistake."Vanderbilt cut the lead to 3 again with 10 seconds left, but Kate Achter sealed the win with two free throws with 9 seconds left.Vanderbilt got the ball back with a final chance to tie the game with 0.4 left, but never got a shot off."We just dug ourselves a hole and took too long to come out of it," Vanderbilt's Caroline Williams said.Bowling Green's players and coaches huddled at midcourt, savoring the moment in school history. The Falcons fed off the energy of a few thousand of its fans who made the relatively short 135-mile trip from its Ohio campus."It's the biggest win in program history for our conference, for our community," said Miller. "It's just great, we're taking it to another level. There are great coaches in the MAC and we finally are getting the respect we deserve."Bowling Green had a balanced offense with four players in double figures. Horne had 12 points, while Achter and Mann had 10 each.Achter had eight assists.Vanderbilt has been to eight straight NCAA Tournaments and last made the round of 16 in 2005.The Commodores, who last made a Final Four in 1993, entering the tournament saying they felt the had the senior leadership and the inside-outside game to possibly make a deep run this season.But it wasn't to be, as the Falcons capitalized on 20 turnovers to help win the game."Dee [Davis], Caroline and Carla have put their mark on the program," Balcomb said of the Vanderbilt seniors. "They're great people. They're great players and I think, they'll truly be successful in life just like they were on the court."I just feel bad for them because they deserved better."