Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Falcons Score Points, Beat Austin Peay

There might not be a more powerless feeling in sports than when you're team can't score points.

Long scoring droughts that last forever, open looks falling off the rim, contorted shots in the key that don't even get close, careless turnovers away from the basket...it almost begins to feel like there is an invisible force, a hidden hand, that is directing what is happening.  Or not happening.

BG fans, it is safe to say, are not unfamiliar with this feeling.  BG wants to build its game on defense, and really one has one pure scorer on its roster.  And so, these scoring droughts are endemic, part of the overall weather pattern.

Last night against Austin Peay, it happened right out of the locker room.  BG had finished the first half on a strong 13-4 run to head into the locker room up 7 after trailing by as much as 8 early on.  The half ended on a Scott Thomas steal and dunk...the kind of thing that sends the team off the floor with some momentum.

BG came out of the locker room, however, and went 5:59 agonizing minutes without scoring and lead by just 1 point.  Nine missed shots and two turnovers....

For BG last night, the player who pulled them out of this funk was someone who was pretty unlikely.  Redshirt freshman Anthony Henderson drilled two treys less than a minute apart (his first collegiate points).  Both came with the game tied, and after the second BG never trailed again.

In fact, for all the difficulty of the first six minutes, BG scored 30 points in the final 11 minutes to win the game, 82-72.

It was a night when BG needed all of those points.  In his pre-game interview, Coach Orr said "we're a man to man team" but some of what he saw out there against Peay last night might have made him question that.  BG players were torched in space several times and there was no help side defense at all, leading to easy baskets for the Governors.

Peay shot over 50% for the game, and got to the free throw line 27 times on only 20 BG fouls, all symptoms of a struggling BG defense.  The saving grace for the Falcons was that the Governors only made 14 of those free throws.  If they convert even a decent percentage, the game is much closer coming home.

The game had 74 possessions which is very fast paced for a Falcon game.  BG ended up scoring 1.1 points per possession, while holding Austin Peay to .97.  BG was actually 8 of 13 from beyond the arc--a well-known weakness--and that contributed to the game being a wash in terms of EFG%.  Peay turned the ball over on 25% of their possessions, as compared to 19% for the Falcons.

BG continued to show improved rebounding, especially in the first half, and ended up +3 for the game. The Falcons had numerous second chance points in the first half.  Finally, though, Peay shot 27 free throws compared to BG's 14, but only generated a +4 advantage from all those extra free throws.

A'uston Calhoun, who had struggled in the opening games, finally broke out with 19 points and 7 rebounds on 8-18 shooting.  He uses a lot of shots to get where he is going, but for us to win, it seems as if he just needs that many touches.  Dee Brown also had a nice game with 17 points and Scott Thomas had his usual line with 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three steals.  Jordan Crawford had 7 assists and only 3 turnovers.

The Falcons get right back at it tonight, with the Detroit Titans at the Stroh.  The Titans beat the Falcons last year at Calihan Hall and are not off to the start that was expected in some quarters.  We'll take a look at the Titans a little later today, but for now the Austin Peay win was a nice one.  As I said in their preview, I think they would be a pretty decent MAC team, so getting the win was good for our team.  If BG can keep Calhoun involved, then we stand a lot better chance at offensive production that will take the pressure off our defense to play lights out every single night.

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