- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

CLEVELAND (AP) - Porchia Green scored on two driving layups in the final 26 seconds to lift Ball State to its first Mid-American Conference title and the school’s first trip to the NCAA tournament with a 55-51 victory over MAC power and top-seeded Bowling Green on Sunday.

Green blasted down the lane and dropped a scoop shot to give the Cardinals (25-8) a two-point lead with 26.2 seconds left. Then, after a Bowling Green turnover, Audrey McDonald alertly threw a long pass to Green and the senior guard streaked down the floor to put Ball State ahead by four.

Emily Maggert picked off Bowling Green’s inbounds pass near midcourt, securing Ball State’s 11th straight win and the MAC’s automatic NCAA bid.

Maggert scored 14 points to lead Ball State.

Niki McCoy scored 15 points and Tracy Pontius 14 for Bowling Green (28-4), which lost for just the second time in 11 title game appearances.

Bowling Green guard Lauren Prochaska, the MAC’s player of the year, made just 3-of-16 shots and the Falcons shot just 28 percent _ 22 in the second half _ from the floor.

Ranked in the AP’s Top 25 before their 25-game winning streak was snapped earlier this month, the Falcons couldn’t buy a basket in the first 10 minutes after halftime. They missed 3-pointers, layups and short jumpers in a 1-for-15 dryspell that allowed the Cardinals to open a 38-33 lead.

But Pontius, who tied a school record with eight 3-pointers in a semifinal win over Toledo, made another 3, and after a Ball State miss, BG’s point guard fed the ball inside to center Chelsea Albert, who converted a three-point play to put the Falcons ahead 39-38 with 7:45 left.

Maggert’s bucket put Ball State up 48-46 with 2:21 to go, but McCoy made a three-point play and two free throws to give the Falcons a 51-48 lead with 1:21 left. Danielle Gratton’s 3-pointer from the top of the key tied it for Ball State, and when Bowling Green missed several short shots, Green found a seam in the lane and powered her way to the basket.

After Green’s second layup in the closing seconds, first-year coach Kelly Packard and her players began to celebrate the Cardinals’ first tourney title.

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