Sunday, March 06, 2011

Falcons End Tailspin, Beat Bulls On Anderson Day

It was a story that needed a happy ending.  And it had one....Bowling Green came up with the kind of game that they had in the first part of the MAC season, combining good defense with rebounding and an ability to close the game....and they won the game by 10.  It was one of their better performances of the MAC season, if not the best.

And, it came at the right time, both emotionally and in terms of giving the team a shot at the Q.  BG earned a home berth against NIU Tuesday, and if that game can be won, would play WMU Thursday at noon.  It is a crazy year in the MAC, and I know its unlikely, but this team is capable of winning those two games.

BG scored 1.14 points per possession, which is tied with the OU for our second best game of the year.  At the same time, BG played very strong defense, holding UB to .98 points per possession.  That spells a very comfortable victory for the Falcons.

With about 8 minutes left, BG was up 17-16.  BG put together a very nice run until halftime, outscoring UB 20-8 in those last 8 minutes, punctuated by a wicked dunk by A'uston Calhoun off a well-designed set play to end the half.

Coming out in the second half, BG was up 13, and that lead held nicely in the second half.  UB was unable to crack a 10 point margin and with 6:36 left the Falcons led by 17 points.  Buffalo made a little run to get it to 7 with about 2:30 left.

Here was one of the game's critical moments.  BG has struggled lately in moments like this, and did, in fact, struggle against UB the first time around.  BG was running clock, and the shot clock was inside 10 and Crawford had the ball way out top.

Things can go two ways here.  If we don't score and give up a run-out and the Bulls hit a transition hoop, and the lead is down to 5 (or 4), things can completely change.

But things went another way.  Crawford beat his man, got into the paint and sunk a jumper in traffic against the best shot blocking team in the conference.  BG was up 9 and it was a free throw contest.  The Falcons then sunk 7 of 8 FTs down the stretch (yeah, I looked it up!---Crawford 1 and Brown with 6) and the game was never again in doubt.

In fact, the old' Buzzer Banger called off the dogs down the stretch, and the last minute was played to bone chilling excitement from a nostalgic and appreciative home crowd.

In terms of stats, it boiled down to basic matters of basketball.  Coming in, Buffalo had a 7% advantage in effective field goal %.  In the game, BG was +5 in EFG%, which means a 12% swing and that would help a bunch of teams win.  Also, Buffalo is usually a very good 3-FG shooting team, hitting 38%.  Yesterday, they hit 20%, and BG actually had more 3s than their opponent.  This is where the team has struggled.  We were OK when we were getting stops through turnovers, but teams seem to be getting wise to that, and we need to defend the shot to get stops.

And get the rebound.  Buffalo had an OK game with 34% on the offensive boards, but that is an average figure and indicates that BG at least held its own in this category.

BG was very good, on the other hand, on its own offensive boards, with 42% of the offensive boards, the Falcon's second best game of the year.  And free throws.  In the end, BG ended up 14 of 19 from the line, a +8 advantage over Buffalo, who was 6-12.  As we know, BG hit the last 7 of the last 8, so before that we were 7 of 11, but it was great to see us ice the game.  Dee Brown is the wrong man to foul late in the game.

Speaking of which, Dee Brown had 21 points in the game, to go with 3 assists.  It was the second time in MAC play he has gotten over 20 and he did it on 6-13 shooting and 8 FTs, netting an offensive efficiency of 146.  He was joined by A'uston Calhoun, who was an absolute beast with 16 points and 14 rebounds.  Jordan Crawford added 13 points.

And so before generations of Falcon players, Bowling Green answered the call yesterday.  From here, the focus can switch to the MAC tourney, and seeing if the Falcons can make a run into the finals at the Q.

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