Sunday, February 14, 2016

Frustrating Afternoon At the Stroh, BG loses to WMU

A tough MAC season got a little bit tougher for the Falcons yesterday as they lost at home again, this time to WMU in an angry, contentious, poorly officiated game in which BG failed to make FTs and lost a game they could have won.

Just to dispense with the trends, that's 5 straight losses and 7 in the last 8 games.  BG has lost 5 straight at home...their last home win was January 5th.

It was a little bit of a familiar story.  BG came out of the locker room completely unready to play.  WMU blew out to a 9-0 lead that stretched to 13-2 only 4 minutes into the game.  The Falcons woke up a little bit and chopped the lead to 5 a number of times in the first half but the Broncos finished the half on a 9-3 to lead by 11 at the half.

The second half saw Western Michigan lead by more than 10 for almost the entire first 14 minutes.  The lead clipped into single digits here and there, but it was pretty much a double-digit lead until about 6 minutes left in the game.  BG used an Alcegaire 3 and a Wiggins hoop to cut the lead from 10 to 5 with 5 minutes left.

Just inside of 3 minutes, there was an exchange that should have been decisive.  BG had a strong defensive possesson, getting two blocked shots including one by Ish Ali.  Ali pulled the ball out of the melee and hit Spencer Parker for a transition hoop that made the score 68-65.  On the other end, Wilder turned the ball over, was called for a foul trying to get the ball back and then Anthony Avery came into the middle and took a swipe at somebody, which he was T'd for.

So, with 1:56 left, BG was down 3 with 4 FTs coming and then the ball.  You just can't leave that situation without the lead...which BG did.  Parker split his pair and then Ali split his pair...and BG was down 1 with the ball.  Probably the game's key possession, BG got the ball to Parker who didn't hit and then WMU cleared the rebound.

BG got a stop on the other end, so with less than 90 seconds to play once again had the ball down 1, but this time Pep Joseph made a bad pass and turned the ball over.  WMU was not in the bonus yet, so BG had to foul twice.  With :45 left Thomas Wilder split a pair of FTS and BG had the ball back, down 2 now.

With :35 left, Ish Ali was fouled and had 2 shots.  He is normally a very good FT shooter, but he missed them BOTH.  BG fouled and WMU made both FTs this time to lead by 4.

It went on and on.  BG turned the ball over again and it looked to be over, but WMU missed the front end of a 1-1, Pep Joseph was fouled and he split his pair to get the lead back to 3....but on the miss BG ended up with the board.  Spencer Parker had the ball in the corner and the WMU defender closed hard on him.  Parker only had to get the ball out of there and BG would have had a shot to tie, but instead he leaned into the defender and kind of lumped up something that I assume was supposed to look like a shot attempt, but that's a bail-out you aren't going to get.

WMU was fouled from there and made 3 more FTs in the final minutes to win 74-68.

It was an angry, contentious game.  If you read here, you know I don't carry on about the officiating.  There are going to be bad calls and MAC officitating is sub-par and has been for years.  It works for you and against you.

Having said that, this was a putridly officiated game, not only for bad calls BG didn't get but for an atmosphere of chaos and a general lack of control.  Huger was given a bench warning arguing a call...don't remember the call but I remember him being right at the time, and then a couple minutes later he was standing with his feet a little over the line while the play was in the other half of the court and the ref ALL THE WAY on the other side sees it and T's the coach up.

Later, Coach Hawkins did the same thing if not worse, and got a bench warning only after the fans were up in arms.  The ref was clearly not going to do it.  There was a period where everything went against BG and then it switched and everything started to go against WMU...a classic hallmark of MAC officials.

The other thing that bothers me about BG's game was our defensive coaching.  For weeks, teams have been abusing BG in the low post.  We just do not have players who can defend guys like Fosythe, Johnson, or in this case Drake Lamont and Seth Dugan in the post.  Most of the 9-0 lead was built feeding the ball low to Lamont and watching him score.  When they needed baskets in the second half, WMU went to the same thing.

Two things.  First, BG does not help or double-team in this situation.  If you remember the crowds that (for example) A'uston Calhoun to draw everytime he got the ball, that would be the opposite of what you see here.  You have 1-1 post play, with the big man dribbling the ball and backing in and there's no help for our post defenders who are just not sized to handle guys like this.

So, if you aren't going to help, you at least need to be in the zone.  In fact, BG went to a zone against WMU and it got back them back into the game, started generating stops and getting some plays in transition.  Then, for reasons I don't understand, BG switched back out of the zone.

I do understand that when you are double-team that opens other things up, but right now we just watch a guy back in and make an easy shot.


From a stats perspective the game was pretty even, as you can see here.  WMU had trouble with turnovers, but shooting, rebounding and GETTING TO THE LINE were pretty even on this measure.
And therein lies the issue.  BG got to the line an amazing 32 times.  And they made only 15 of those.  That's 47%, almost exactly the same as their FG%.  You're not going to win a game that way...which Coach Huger said after the game.  WMU tried 22 FTs and made 17...incredibly a +2 advantage.

Individually, Spencer Parker led the team with 16 points.  That's 6 of 10 shooting and 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 3 of 4 from the line, the only miss being the one in that technical foul sequence.  Wes Alcegaire had 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting.  Demajeo Wiggins had a really nice night.  He scored 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting and added 8 rebounds and 2 blocks.  He might have had a career night were it not for a regrettable 3 of 11 from the line.

Rasheed Worrell started but only played 5 minutes.  Don't know if that was a benching or if there were health issues.  He was in the post defense early against Lamont.  Zack Denny played only 18 minutes.  He continues to be in a shooting slump...he was 0-6 last night.  BG's point guards were a collective 2 of 10 shooting as well.

So, an angry and contentious and frustrating night at the Stroh.  The loss all but ensures BG will play on the road in the MAC tourney.  BG is 2 games behind CMU for the 8th spot, and would lost a tie breaker to them.  BG is at NIU Tuesday and that's a team we are 2 behind and could catch.  Biggest issue is that there are only 2 home games remaining and BG has to play @Akron and @UB. Hard to see it happening.  In fact, BG is only 1 game out of last.

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