Sunday, December 11, 2011

Falcons Lose Tight Road Game to Valpo

BG came close to getting its first road win of the season, but in the end was unable to pull off a victory over the Valpo Crusaders, losing 82-79.  It was a competitive effort, however, against a pretty good team, so perhaps the Falcons are building as the season goes along.  BG did score the ball on the road, which has been an issue, but at the same time, they failed to slow Valpo down enough to win.

Last year, BG only lost twice when getting 70 points.  In fact, BG has noted score 79 and lost a regulation game since a battle with Oakland in 2007.

The first 10 minutes were close and it was tied 15-15.  Then, in the next 10, the Crusaders outscored BG 20-10 and eventually led by 8 at the end of the half.

In the second half, they led by 11 with 13 minutes left.  To get back into a game when you are down, you have to get stops, and BG did string some stops together, going on a 9-0 run in less than 3 minutes to cut the lead to 2.  Seven of the 9 points came from A'uston Calhoun in that stretch.

From there, it was a very tight game, with close leads shuttling back and forth.  For the next 8 minutes, BG had the lead for most of the time, in fact.  With 2 minutes left, Calhoun hit a basket to give BG a 71-70 lead.  Valpo ended up making 3-4 free throws at that point for a 73-71 lead.  On the next possession, the teams traded possessions where they made and missed a FT, and on the next exchange Crawford missed 2 and Valpo made 2 and they were up 4 with :36 left.

Calhoun made 2 Fts to cut it back to 2, but then BG had a breakdown on defense when they needed a stop, and Valpo had an easy dunk and BG never had the ball again with the game with a possession.

It is fitting for there to be so many free throws coming down the stretch, because it was a game marred by fouls and free throws.  We knew Valpo shoots a  lot of free throws coming in, but this was crazy.  Valpo shot 33 free throws and BG shot 26.  There were 44 fouls in the game.  Unfortunately, Valpo made 79% of theirs and BG only made 65%, and that netted out to a +9 advantage.

BG shot the ball very well.  BG shot 54% and 56% on 2 FG.  They tried only 6 treys.  (This was the kind of offense BG sported during last year's mid-season run).  The Falcons scored 1.11 points per possession, which is very solid.  For some context, the game did feature 71 possessions, which is higher than normal, so you'd expect a little more scoring.

BG took very good care of the ball, and rebounding was pretty even.  BG shot well, but let Valpo shoot even better (54% and 76% on 2 FG though only 29% from 3)...the Crusaders won the game on better shooting from the field and from the line.

Individually, A'uston Calhoun had a great night, with 25 points and over 50% shooting and had a team-high 7 rebounds as well.  Jordan Crawford had a career high 22 points on 57% shooting.  Scott Thomas had 14 points (6-10 shooting), 7 assists and 3 steals as well.

So the Falcons fall to 5-4 with the MSU Spartans on the schedule next Saturday.  The Spartans pulled a big upset on the road against Gonzaga, late last night.  I think that BG's performance in this game was encouraging, though still a situation where the Falcons failed to close the game out.  I had thought that 3 wins in this five-game road trip would be huge and 2 would even be pretty good, and I still feel that way.

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