Sunday, January 19, 2014

Boom! Falcons Notch Huge Road Win

So, with about 14 minutes left in the game, honestly, you had to figure BG had next to no chance at winning today.  WMU is a good team and they are tough at home and they were rolling.  With 7 left in the first half, the game had been tied at 23, but WMU had gone on a 16-4 run to end the half and then over the first 6 minutes of the second half blown the lead out 3 more to 50-35.

And then BG came alive.  They have their faults, but they aren't quitters, they have played tough in every game.  They scored the game's next 10 points (8 by Anthony Henderson) to slice the lead to 5 and wake everybody up.  From there, BG had a 9-4 run...all on 3s (Henderson 2, Lyshe 1) and the game was tied 8:41 left.

Now you see this a lot.  Team executes a furious rally to get back into the game but finds they expended what they had to get it close and end up losing.  You'd especially expect to see the road team have this problem.

But that wasn't what happened.  WMU never lead by more than 3, which they did with 4:15 left in the game.

From here, BG closed the game on a 9-1 run to end up with the 5 point Falcon victory.

We'll look at the scoring in a moment, but let's keep an eye on the defensive side of the ball.  BG got a bunch of stops, holding WMU without scoring at all for the last 2:05 of the game.  That's impressive and that shows who the stronger team was at the end of the game.

BG was was 2 with about 2 minutes left.  Jehvon Clarke--he of the struggling shot--stepped back and nailed a 3 to give BG the lead.  The teams then traded turnover before Parker fouled Conner Tava.  He did BG a huge favor by missing both free throws.  BG came down and caught WMU in some broken coverage and Henderson had a layup to put BG up 3 with :15 left.

WMU had a shot, but their conference leading scorer, David Brown, missed a long 3 and Richaun Holmes--who had a very long day--grabbed the rebound and then converted 2 FTs and the game was over.  BG had a huge road win under its belt.

WMU is a strong physical team.  They were clearly determined to keep BG away from its inside game.  And, it largely worked.  Holmes battled foul trouble and shot 3 of 11.  Black shot 0 for 7.  Parker was 3 for 7.

What happened was interesting.  BG actually got scoring from the outside from the guards.  The key player for the game was Anthony Henderson.  I've certainly mentioned his struggling shooting, but the dude was just unconscious.  He shot 10 of 16, 7 of 10 from beyond the arc and scored 27 points.  The points and the 3FGs were both career highs.  He had 4 steals, too.

Jehvon Clake was 5 of 13 shooting, which is not great but he also made 2 of 5 from beyond the arc.  And JD Tisdale and Demarkeo Lyshe both nailed key shots as well.

So, WMU took away the inside game and the guards delivered from the outside, something we have not seen much of this year.

You don't want to project too much ahead, but I have said it before.  If BG starts to get some outside shooting, this team is a different team.

I don't want to leave the discussion of the big guys with their shooting.  They did contribute. Black, for example, had 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and a steal.  Holmes had 5 rebonds and 3 blocks...also 3 turnovers.  Parker had 2 steals...and 4 turnovers.

Anyway, just making the point.  They did contribute.  Just a tough night shooting.

BG was actually outshot a little bit by WMU, but the 3-ball evened it out (yeah, I really wrote that and its right).  WMU shot 45% overall and 33% from 3...while BG was 40% and 56%.  The other difference was turnovers.  As you can see below, BG had a big (-6) advantage in turnovers.  Offensive rebounds were an advantage to WMU, and while WMU got to the line more than BG, the Falcons made the most of what they had at the line, making 11 of 15.  WMU was also good at 14 of 20, but if BG had one of its normal FT nights, this result could have been different.

In total, BG scored 1.02 points per possession, which is not great but good enough for BG to win.  BG held WMU to .94 points per possession, which is .11 below their normal average.

So BG gets an very big road win, not just because of who and where it was, but also because of how it happened.  BG was way down and could easily have packed it in, but they rallied and then they finished and I hope they had a really nice bus ride home because they deserve it.

BG is now 2-2 in the MAC.  They go to OU Wednesday--certainly another tough assignment--but then have Miami at home Saturday.  This win means BG has a chance to go 2-1 for the week and end the week at .500.  Beyond that, you'd love to see the team develop some confidence and develop and outside game to go with the inside game.  Time will tell, but today was a very encouraging game.

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