March 3, 2000
CLEVELAND -- For most of the regular season, the prospect that any team other than Kent or Western Michigan University would win the Mid-American Conference women's basketball championship was nearly inconceivable. On Friday night (March 3) the unthinkable happened, and almost happened twice.
Toledo, which the Broncos had defeated twice in regular season, took the initial lead in its semi-final contest with WMU and pounded the Broncos into submission. The Rockets led by 12 points at the intermission, by as many as 16 in the second half, and went on to win, 64-55, before 1,012 fans at Cleveland's Public Hall.
In the other semi-final contest Friday, No. 1 seeded Kent, which barely escaped Buffalo, 71-68, in the quarterfinals, needed double-overtime to defeat Eastern Michigan, 96-94. Kent had to rally from an 11-point deficit in regulation and trailed by seven points early in the first overtime period against EMU.
WMU's bid for the MAC championship and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament ended with the loss to Toledo. Despite an excellent performance in the regular season, the Broncos have no prospects for an at-large bid in the NCAA tourney, but are considered a strong candidate for the Women's National Invitational Tournament. The WNIT field will be announced March 12.
Toledo used the same strategy to defeat the Broncos that Eastern Michigan had used when it overpowered WMU in the regular season finale. The Rockets pounded on the Broncos in the paint at both ends of the court and forced the Broncos into a perimeter shooting game.
Western Michigan's two big scoring threats, senior Shelsea Erving and rookie Kristin Koetsier, both selected to the All-MAC First Team, were never allowed to become a factor. Koetsier, who was also chosen as the MAC Freshman of the Year, got into early foul trouble and was forced to the bench in the first half.
In Thursday night's 87-63 quarterfinal victory over Bowling Green, the Broncos drilled a conference-record 17 3-point baskets, but in Friday's semi-final contest the Broncos could not find the hoop from any distance. WMU was 0-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first half and finished the game with just three treys in 21 attempts.
Senior Danielle Mueller had 11 of the Broncos' 20 points in the first half and finished with a team-high 15. She also led all players with 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Brooke Gallert added 12 points and had a game-high five assists.
1st 2nd Total Toledo 32 32 64 WMU Broncos 20 35 55
MAC Quarterfinal: Broncos 87 Bowling Green 63
In Thursday's quarterfinal victory, seniors Shelsea Erving and Dionne Lassila led a barrage of 3-point baskets by the Broncos, who connected on 17 of 39 attempts from beyond the arc. Both attempts and shots made are new MAC records. The previous single-game records for 3-point baskets made were 16 in any conference game and 11 in a MAC tournament game.
Erving had a game-high 19 points, including five baskets from long range. Lassila scored all 15 of her points on five buckets from beyond the arc. Erving also grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds and had two assists, and she became only the twelfth player in MAC history to surpass 1,700 points in her career.
Rookie Kristin Koetsier had 14 points and four rebounds. Senior Danielle Mueller had 12 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Brianne Gallert added 11 points and dished out a game-high six assists.
With the Broncos up by 31 points midway through the second half, coach Ron Stewart was able to rest Erving, Koetsier and Mueller for much of the second half.
1st 2nd Total Bowling Green 28 35 63 WMU Broncos 43 44 87
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