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Falcons get by Cowgirls to earn first NCAA tourney win since '89

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- After three years of piling up championships and gaudy records in the Mid-American Conference, Bowling Green wanted more.

The Falcons got it Sunday in the form of an NCAA Tournament win, 70-66 over Oklahoma State in the first round of the Greensboro Regional.

Bowling Green charged past the 10th-seeded Cowgirls to set up a matchup with Vanderbilt on Tuesday.

The Falcons haven't appeared in a second-round game since 1989 -- including two winless trips to the NCAA Tournament with their current crop of seniors. Sunday, it was different.

"This is our third straight trip here," Bowling Green senior Liz Honegger said. "We wanted to win one. We definitely didn't want this to be our last game."

The seventh-seeded Falcons are moving on, but it wasn't easy.

A layup by Bowling Green's Ali Mann gave the Falcons a 62-60 lead with about 1:50 to play. Mann's nice pass to Kate Achter for a layup gave Bowling Green a four-point lead.

The Falcons (30-3) hit enough free throws down the stretch to hang on for the win. They were aided by a technical foul on Andrea Riley of the Cowgirls (20-11) with 53 seconds remaining and her team trailing by four.

Riley, the Big 12 freshman of the year, finished with 20 points for Oklahoma State. Taylor Hardeman added 12 points.

Mann had 16 for Bowling Green, Honegger had 15 and Achter scored 14.

Second-seeded Vanderbilt beat Delaware State 62-47 in its first-round game earlier Sunday.

Bowling Green's roster features key players from Michigan, including Mann and senior Megan Thorburn. More than 2,000 Falcons fans made the trip from Ohio, at times giving it the feel of a home game even though it was played on Michigan State's court.

"This group has worked all year for another opportunity to take that next step," Bowling Green coach Curt Miller said. "The upperclassmen in our locker room wanted this bad."

Oklahoma State got out to a 26-12 lead, but the Falcons rallied with a 10-0 run and held the Cowgirls without a field goal for more than 6 minutes to cut the halftime deficit to 32-28.

"It's very frustrating ... to just give up a lead like that," Riley said.

The lead seesawed until the final minutes. The score was tied five times and the lead changed hands eight times.

Oklahoma State has been one of the nation's best rebounding teams all season, but was outrebounded by the Falcons, 37-31. Bowling Green had 12 offensive rebounds, leading to 19 second-chance points.