After a short period of time when the Falcons were playing like they might have been better than we thought they were, last night in Grand Forks was a night where they played the way we feared they would be. Playing against a significantly underperforming team without a D1 win and with several losses to teams similar to Bowling Green, the Falcons dropped a 56-53 contest.
Yes, it was on the road, and I know it is hard to win on the road. In fact, BG is now 0-3 on the road for the season. It is hard to compare, but I suspect that this game was more winnable than every road game we will play in the conference, and we didn't win this one.
The next road game is Temple, and that's going to be very difficult, which means that BG is likely to enter MAC play on a 4-game losing streak.
After some early skirmishing the game was tied at 7, but then UND went on a 16-5 run to take an 11 point lead with 6 minutes left in the half. BG knocked it back to 2 and then UND popped it back up to 6 at halftime.
UND hit a 3 right out of the box to go up 9 and led 40-31, but the Falcons got the next 7 points, and then there was 3 minutes without scoring before BG tied the game at 40. It was a tight game from that point in, with BG never taking the lead until there was 1:00 left to play when Richaun Holmes gave BG a 2 point lead with a +1.
That lead lasted :17 as UND came down and drained a 3 to go back up 1. Even so, with :36 left and the ball, you have a shot. As we all know by now, however, these one-possession-get-a-basket situations are far from BG's strong point. Could be wrong, but I don't remember us ever scoring on one of them.
Anyway, we didn't. Crawford missed a jumper and BG fouled--actually twice before we had them in the bonus. Dude missed the front end of the 1-1, which is like a gaping open door, except that we didn't get the rebound and UND had the ball.
Crawford then got a steal and was racing down to get a hoop with about :15 left....and his shot got blocked. We fouled, UND hit both free throws and BG still had a last possession to try and get a 3, which we did not.
Second straight game where BG led with a minute left and lost the game.
Second straight game where we had a vital, last second breakaway shot blocked at the rim.
Second straight game where BG has yielded a late 3 when it needed a stop (happened twice in Tampa).
Ouch. I admire Jordon Crawford's guts. He plays without fear in a game where he gives up a foot to average sized players. That is the second time (and maybe the third, I can't recall) where he has been blocked at the rim with a game deciding shot. I don't know what the answer is but this does not seem to be it. Maybe you pull up...maybe you use an angle on the glass. But, this does not seem to be working.
For all of BG's poor offensive efforts, this was among the poorer. The game was played at 62 possessions, which is about where a lot of our games are. So, you score 53 points in 62 possessions, that's .86 points per possession and BG had .82 against MSU. And these guys were not Michigan State.
North Dakota obviously struggled to score as well...they had only .9 points per possession.
Remember all that playing in the paint stuff? BG had 14 points in the paint last night. UND had 16 second chance points to BG's 9.
Oh...and the official stats show the game was without a single fast break basket...more a curiosity there.
BG actually outshot UND a little bit, as expected. The key to the game was offensive rebounding. UND is not a good rebounding team, but they had a ridiculous 17 offensive rebounds against BG--meaning that they picked up 46% of their available offensive rebounds. For its part, BG got only 5 offensive rebounds, which is 17% of its missed shots. That is half as many as we got against MSU, one of the best rebounding teams in the country and the worst for our team since a game @Miami in the 09-10 season.
The second key to the game was free throws. BG did get to the line 15 times but made only 8. We have been shooting free throws pretty well, but Cam Black and Craig Sealey both went 1 for 4. In fact, North Dakota ended up making 1 more FT than BG did.
The Falcons had a slight edge in turnovers.
Individually, Jordon Crawford had 14 points but on 6 of 14 shooting to go with 4 assists and 3 turnovers. A'uston Calhoun had 12 points and 8 rebounds, though the scoring came at a price, with 5 of 13 shooting.
Richaun Holmes had a pretty big game for BG. He played only 15 minutes due to first half foul trouble, but he scored 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting, had 3 rebounds and 6 blocked shots (!!!) in those minutes. Also, 2 of 3 at the line. I know he was in foul trouble and I know we have a thing in this program where we don't like to play guys in their first year, but I can't understand how this player is not getting more minutes.
Anthony Henderson played 18 minutes, took 2 threes and made them both. Cam Black pulled only 13 minutes due to foul trouble and Luke Kraus played 19 minutes and didn't take a shot.
And so it goes. BG is now 5-7 and 3-7 in D1 competition heading to play Temple in Philly on New Year's Eve. That will round out the pre-MAC schedule, though BG still has two non-conference games left on the schedule.