Thursday, January 08, 2015

Orange Dagger! Falcons Start out MAC Play with Road Win...

So, last night was a pretty good night.  BG went into a place where they have not won in a long time, faced some severe adversity, rallied and then closed out a tightly contested game with Kent State to go 1-0 in the MAC with a road win and a win in division.

Just to get the disclaimers out, Kent was playing without their starting PG, Derek Jackson, who was suspended for the game.  Even so, this was a very nice win for BG and should provide some significant confidence moving forward.

It was not always easy, and there were a couple periods where BG was outplayed pretty significantly. With 7 minutes left in the half, BG was up 18-16, but Kent went on a 19-2 run in about 5 and a half minutes, which obviously represents a serious collapse on both ends of the court.  Down 15, BG did an important thing, which was to sneak 6 points in over the last minute of the game to get the lead inside 10, including a Joseph steal and run-out layup in the final seconds.  Coach Jans identified that at halftime as an important part of keeping BG in the game.

BG followed up on that momentum.  Five minutes into the half they were still down 7, but went on an 8-0 run to pop into the lead with 12 left in the half.  Kent wasn't done...they went on another run and with just inside 7 minutes left to play they led by 8 again.  In 4 minutes, BG came back on a 13-4 run to get back into the lead.  Spencer Parker scored 7 of those 13 points, and he's the hero of the second half.

BG never trailed again.  With a minute left Kent had it down to 1, and Parker pulled out his orange dagger and splashed another 3 to put the Flashes up by 4 points.  BG was up 4 until almost the end, when Brewer dropped an uncontested layup in to give the final margin.

Even with Kent playing without their PG, this is a very solid win for our team.  The two rallies were great to see, especially on the road.  In a way, the second one was even better, because it seems that on the road is when you often see a team gas out when they fall behind that late in the second half.  As we continue to see what we have, we continue to get positive results.

The preview I did indicated this would be a tight game.  Both teams presented pretty similar profiles and it certainly was a tight game.  BG did not play great defense.  Kent scored 1.04 points per possession.  However, the Falcons had a better offensive day (obviously), with 1.08 points per possession.  The difference...believe it or not, was 3FG shooting.  BG has lacked a consistent outside shooting game for years, but BG was 8 of 15 from beyond the arc for the game and Kent was 6 of 21.  The preview noted that Kent normally makes more than their opponents, so this was big for BG.

The other thing BG showed was some adaptability.  They went to some full court pressure to take Kent out of their rhythm and also played some second half zone.  I think it is a sign of a well-coached and hard to beat team that can take multiple approaches on defense, especially if they are not committed to one style as a defining characteristic, like EMU.

Anyway, BG had a +4 edge in turnovers, which doesn't sound like a lot, unless it is a tight game.  Those possessions were critical.  BG only had 10 turnovers for the game, which is excellent.

Coach won't be happy with the offensive rebounding, as Kent had their way on the offensive boards.  Finally, the teams ended up even on FTs made, even though Kent tried 4 more.  BG went 10 of 11 from the line and didn't miss until the last 30 seconds of the game.

On an individual basis, Richaun Holmes was the team's leading scorer with 20 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks.  He shot 8 of 16 and 2 of 3 from 3FG, and the only serious blemish was that he made 5 of BG's 10 turnovers.  As mentioned though, Spencer Parker was the guy who pulled the game out.  He had 16 points all in the second half on 6 of 11 and 2 of 2 shooting, and each of the treys were at critical gave BG the lead they never gave up and one pushed the lead to 4 with a minute left.

Jovon Austin was back after an ankle injury against Chicago State.  He's starting at 1 now and had 6 assists over 2 turnovers in 24 minutes.  Pep Joseph had 3 steals.

One note on Kent...this Jimmy Hall guy is going to be a player.  He is a sophomore transfer from Hofstra and had a career high 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting and 7 rebounds.  Todd Walker was comparing him to Jovan McCrea of Buffalo, which is not good news for the rest of the conference.

BG is now 9-3 with 4 road wins.  Excitement is continuing to grow.  OU comes in Saturday.  We have been drawing better and we could get a really nice crowd for that one.  OU lost at home to NIU and is having a disappointing season.  Be great to see us grind one out over them...and the cool thing is, you're starting to expect this team to succeed.

No comments :