Sunday, February 16, 2014

Falcons WIN Close one

The Cardiac Kids were back again in Muncie as the Falcons played a game that once again came down to the final possession, but this time Ball State was unable to get a shot off, no foul was called and BG had pulled out a badly needed victory.

Yes, Ball State is not very good.  Yes, it was a struggle.  BG is in no position to be picky.  They badly needed a win and got it.  They remain in 10th place, however, and play at home against Toledo Thursday and then @Miami on Sunday.

BG got out to another fast start, leading 8-0, but a couple minutes later the Cardinals had the lead down to 3.  Still, BG was controlling the play, leading by 10 with about 8 minutes left.  From there Ball State took control again, getting the lead down to 3 points with about 4 minutes left and 2 with 2:21 left.  At the half, BG led by 4.

The second half was closely contested the entire way.  BG led for the first 8 minutes of the half, but always by 5 or less.  Ball State took the lead with 11 minutes left and popped the lead to 5 with 8 minutes left. You really start to worry at this point.  I heard Charlie Coles once say that you don't want to play a desperate team at home, because they will do anything to win (he was describing the Cole Magner game), and that was how it was starting to feel.

Ball State led until there were 3 minutes left, when Holmes nailed a 3 to tie the game.  The teams traded layups and then went into a pretty stagnant offensive period.  With 1:20 left, Ball State's FR PG Zavier Turner made a ridiculous 3FG to put the Falcons down 3.  Things were looking bad again.

As it turned out--and in perhaps a triumph of justice or karma or good defense--Ball State would not score again.

BG rallied though.  Parker was fouled and made both ends and then BG got a stop and Clarke fed Henderson for a layup and BG was up 1 with :44 left.  From there on in, it wasn't pretty.

Ball State missed a shot, Majok got the board but BG fouled him trying to strip the ball.  He missed the front end of a 1-1.

Richaun Holmes was fouled.  Missed the shot (still just in bonus).  Ball State comes down.  Turner (the PG) is only 5'9" and he drove right into the middle of the big guys, had nowhere to go with the ball, and Holmes blocked the shot and was fouled.

BG still up 1, :04 left.  He made the first and missed the second and then Turner came down and launched a 3FG where he was mostly worried about trying to lean in and draw contact, he did not get bailed out and BG had the win.

We had noted that Ball State is one of the worst defensive teams in the country.  For all that, they were well above their average against the Falcons.  Their MAC average was .89 points per possession and they got .95 against the Falcons.  Their defense has struggled, though, and while BG did not have a great offensive game, their .99 points per possession is above their average as well.

The big difference for Ball State was 3FG shooting. Their overall % was only 39%, which is pretty bad.  I had noted pre-game that they liked to shoot the 3FG but were not accurate.  Yesterday, they were.  They made 10 of 21 from beyond the arc while BG was 2 of 9.  So, you have 8 more 3FGs which is 24 points.

Free throws were exactly even, however.  We had also noted that Ball State is a terrible team for turnovers, and while they were a little below their average---23% as opposed to 27%--BG was very good and those extra possessions made a big difference.

Ball State had 10 3s and they only had 13 2s.    They shot only 34% on 2FGs while BG shot 47%.

Individually, Spencer Parker had 22 for BG on 9 of 14 shooting and 4 of 5 at the line.  Also, only 1 turnover, so a very solid game for Parker.  Richaun Holmes also came out of a slump, scoring 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting and added 11 rebounds.  Jehvon Clarke had a tough night...11 points, 5 of 15 shooting...6 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals, but 6 turnovers.  Cam Black had 12 rebounds.

BG is now 5-7 in the MAC and remains in 10th place, based on tiebreakers.  However, three other teams have the same record so BG is still competitive for a home court berth.  Downside is that BG has lost to all three of them, so tiebreakers are not pretty.

Next up is UT, late on Thursday.  They were smoked by EMU on Saturday...not exactly the lead-in I would have hoped for.  Still, BG was competitive with them at Savage and now that the game is being played down at the Stroh, so perhaps BG can pull what would be a pretty major upset.

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