Thursday, February 14, 2013

Falcons Win Bruiser over WMU

BG needed a win Wednesday.  Say what you will, and you're not entirely wrong, but this team has a shot to get at one of the byes in the conference tournament.  And, if you're going to play for that, you need to beat a team like WMU on your own floor.  Which BG did last night by 10 points in a very physical basketball game.

I really felt like BG was playing with urgency and intensity from the very beginning.  BG was up 7 early in the half, Western battled back to take a late lead and the teams went into the locker room tied at 30--the 5th tie of the first half.

Man, the Broncos are a physical team.  I have read how they practice with tackling dummies and the football team.  It is amazing.  For example, Connor Tava, whose natural position is bouncer, fouled out in 18 minutes of low-level felony basketball.  They were physical in the first half and I think they came out determined to be more physical in the second half.

The difference was, based on the comments of the coaches after the game, was that BG decided in the locker room that they weren't going to get pushed around anymore.  You had to decide--are you going to match it, or not.

BG was out-rebounded 24-11 in the first half.  WMU got 53% of their missed shots.  Without that, the game is not tied.  In the second half, BG out rebounded WMU 17-14.  WMU only got 40% of its missed shots (which is still too high) but BG got 46% of its missed shots as well.  It was a huge turnaround.

Speaking of missed shots, the most important thing in the game was that BG didn't have that many in the second half.  BG shot 64.5% for the second half and 3 of 7 from beyond the arc.  Riding that kind of shooting and improved boardwork, BG had an 8 point lead going into the first media timeout...a big shift from BG's less productive games.

WMU is a tough team and they drove the lead back to 2, but BG went on a 16-3 run over 8 minutes of play, a streak of stops that featured 6 WMU turnovers and no WMU FGs.  It was as good a period of man-man defense as I have seen this team play in a long time, and it put the game away.  WMU got the game down to 6 inside of a minute left, but BG nailed its free throws and WMU never had the chance to tie the game.

A'uston Calhoun just had a huge game.  He scored 24 points on 10 of 17 shooting.  He was 2-3 from beyond the arc, and he made some really tough jumpers under pressure when nothing was going offensively. He was had his mid-range game going, and he's tough to guard in that kind of a setting, even for a team with a bunch of big guys.

Jordon Crawford had an interesting night, in that WMU put 6'7" Nate Hutcheson on him.  It impacted him...he had 6 turnovers to go with 13 points and 4 assists.  He shot 4 of 10 but 2 of 4 from beyond the arc. I thought BG adjusted well, and even with the strong pressure on Crawford (in addition to Hutcheson they often ran a second guy at him) we were able to get shots.  I though having Kraus out there in this situation really helped to have a guy you could get the ball to.

Crawford also played really tenacious defense, and though he did not end up with any steals, he was disruptive.

Chauncey Orr had 11 points, not shooting very well (2-5) but making all 7 of his free throws.  Luke Kraus contributed 9 points on 3-6 shooting and Richaun Holmes had 9 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes.  Jehvon Clarke also had 5 points in 9 minutes.

Statistically, the game was right were BG needs it to be.  There were 65 possessions.  The Falcons had 1.07 points per possession and allowed only .92 points per possession, which is right where the Falcons typically need to hold an opponent to win.  The key difference was shooting.  As you can see below, BG had a strong advantage on EFG%, including making 46% of 3FG's.  WMU had a huge advantage on rebounding and both teams had a rough night taking care of the ball.

The other keys statistic was free throws.  As we noted in our preview, WMU had had huge free throw advantages over its opponents this year.  Here, they only got to the line a little more than BG and the Falcons ended the game with a +3 advantage on made free throws.  Probably the single biggest failing in WMU's game was free throw shooting...they made only 50%, failing to take advantage of the number of times they got to the line.  It is tough to win that way, because you use up possessions and don't get points.

If the season ended today, BG would be in 4th in the MAC and have a bye into the quarter finals of the MAC tournament.  The season isn't ending today, but BG certainly has something to play for.  We have a couple winnable home games...there's something to watch and that makes the season interesting.

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