December 4, 2022
Why Lexi Fleming’s return is sparking Bowling Green this season
Former MAC Freshman of the Year is back after missing sophomore season due to injury
Bowling Green expected a big season last year from Lexi Fleming. The 5’5 guard was named the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year in 2021 and led the Falcons with 16 points per game. Then, days after being named to the Becky Hammon Award watchlist, Fleming collided with a teammate in a scrimmage and was lost to the season with an ACL tear. After a year on the sidelines, she returned to the court in Bowling Green’s season-opening win over St. Bonaventure, coming off the bench.
“I loved it so much because it was hard sitting out,” Fleming said. “I am thankful and grateful. It taught me so many things. It showed me the outside perspective on how the coach sees the game, such as one obstacle cannot lead to another. How the team plays is so much more than an individual.”
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In the aftermath of a tough loss at highly-ranked Indiana, Fleming saw a breakthrough, scoring 16 points in less than 16 minutes in a win over Southern Indiana. The evening before the interview, the Falcons dominated Detroit Mercy, 76-29. You read that correctly — 29 points. Fleming led her team with 12 points, while UDM shot 24 percent from the field and went scoreless in the second quarter.
“I just think we worked well together,” Fleming said of the defensive masterpiece. “Off the court, we love each other, and we are good friends. We know we can clean up a few things, and we are still learning.”
Fleming was a second-team All-MAC selection as a freshman. In her first game, she scored 24 points in a win over Valparaiso, which is a BGSU freshman record. Her 67 steals on the year were also a school freshman mark. The Falcons finished 21-8, won the MAC regular season title at 14-4, and played in the WNIT.
Without her last year, BGSU was 17-16 and 10-10, qualifying for the Women’s Basketball Invitational. But Fleming is back now and is again one of 25 athletes on the Hammon Award watchlist, presented to the nation’s top mid-major player.
“I am grateful to be on the list because my teammates make me better,” she added. “They make me stay connected. We are all game changers, and everyone contributes in different ways.”
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Fleming said the coaching staff drew her to Bowling Green. Robyn Fralick is in her fifth season after a three-year run at Ashland University from 2015-2018, where she went 104-3 and the Eagles won the 2017 Division II national championship. Fleming added that the championship culture Fralick produced at Ashland is something she wants to be a part of.
“Lexi’s return to playing has been fueled by toughness and commitment,” Fralick said. “I’ve marveled at her daily determination to return to the court. She learned a lot while sitting out last season and has used those experiences to continue to grow.”
The BGSU program is in search of its 12th NCAA Tournament bid and first since 2011. Senior forward Kadie Hempfling, like Fleming, is on the MAC Preseason Second Team. Meanwhile, Australian senior guard Elissa Brett is leading the team in scoring over the first month of the season at 15.8 per contest.
Fleming comes from a basketball family in Cincinnati. Both her parents played for Northern Kentucky University. Her brother Ryan also played for the Norse, while her brother CJ played at Bellarmine University.
“We are all competitive,” she added, “but we don’t talk about basketball at home. We talk about other interests.”
A three-time Girls Greater Catholic League first teamer, Fleming led Mercy McAuley High School to an 82-18 record. She is studying human development and family studies at BGSU.
The MAC preseason poll highlighted the Falcons third, after Toledo and Ball State. BGSU was also No. 18 in the November 29 College Insider Mid-Major poll. Toledo is No. 6, plus Ball State, Kent State and Northern Illinois are also ranked, giving the MAC more teams than any other league.
“I am excited for conference play,” Fleming said. “The MAC is good, and any team can win on any night.”
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Written by Scott Mammoser
Scott Mammoser started out covering the Niagara University women's basketball team in 2002. He went on to cover FIBA World Cups in Turkey and Spain, Under-19 World Cups in Thailand and Spain, the Asia Cup in China, as well as major international events for World Athletics and the International Skating Union. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 80 countries.