For only the fourth time ever, a #12 seed has picked off a #5 and punched a most unlikely ticket to the MAC quarterfinals...even more so given the first round being played on the home court of the #5 team. One time, it was BG on the #5 side of that ledger. This time, it was BG on the #12 side and pulling the big win. Big win. Very, very proud of the guys. Just six days ago it was as bad as it could be, and then today they are picking up the big road win. Credit to the coaches and the players who are making it happen. We have a couple guys coming on pretty hard here at the end and showing promise for the future. This game was the highlight of a tough season...who knows, maybe only until Thursday, and maybe there will be a new one.
For the first half, Kent certainly looked like they were going to be the better team. They had a 7 point and lead and an 8 point lead...and while BG pulled them back both times, the Flashes led by 7 at the half and based on what we have seen, you feared they had the ability to punch one more of those runs than we did to reel them back.
The second half? Well, that was something to behold. BG scored the first 11 points of the half--obviously making shots and getting stops--and had the better of the play for the entire half. Kent never led by more than 1 point again and BG led most of the way, albeit by very close margins. The game was tied with 3:30 left. Lillard hit a jumper, BG got a stop and Wiggins was fouled. He split the pair, and BG was up 3. Kent cut the lead to 1 with 1:58 left.
The key possession came with just under a minute left and BG up 1. The Flashes had a possession where they kept getting offensive boards and actually had 4 shots at the basket and were unable to convert. That included two Pep Joseph blocked shots, a sequence of words you won't find on the Internet.
By the time that all cleared out there were :38 left. They fouled Joseph and he missed the front end of a 1-1. Back to defense we go. This time, Kent turned it over and they fouled Parker with :16 left. He hit both of his shots to put BG up 3. BG fouled Kellon Thomas and he hit both of his and the lead was back to 1 with :12 left. They fouled Alcegaire who hit both of his FTs.
Kent had one shot for a 3. Here, BG got the big play they have been lacking in the late minutes, as Lillard got a big steal and made an athletic save at the boundary to keep the ball in and Kent fouled JD Tisdale with :01 left. Tisdale split the pair...which is a good thing, because Ortiz actually nailed a court-long shot at the buzzer which would have tied the game had he not.
So where BG played hard and effectively and failed to execute at the end against Buffalo, this time they played hard and effectively and executed at the end and won the game.
The key was shooting. As you can see here, the key was BG's ability to make shots and get stops. There were only 61 possessions, so both teams were relatively efficient. BG shot 54% but made only 4 of 13 from 3, while Kent only shot 38% but had 10 of 23 from 3FG. They aren't a 3-shooting team, but that's a result of BG finally committing extra men to stopping Jimmy Hall. I assume that opened up some shots. BG was effective on Hall. He had 6 points on 2 of 10 shooting with 4 turnovers and Todd Walker felt that BG was definitely in his head by the second half.
Kent still had a good game on the boards and neither team shot FTs very well. The key to the game was BG's ability to make some shots and keep Hall from getting good looks close to the basket, as he did in our first two games.
Spencer Parker had a big game for BG, with 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting. BG got real contributions from its young players too. Antwon Lillard is really coming on. He scored 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting and 5 rebounds in 21 minutes. Wiggins had 7 rebounds in 22 minutes. (Both freshmen started). Alcegaire also had 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting and 5 rebounds. Finally, Pep Joseph had 6 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocked shots (!) and only one turnover.
So, an excellent effort for our guys. I'm happy for the seniors to experience a big win after a pretty long drought and I am happy for our young guys as we look to build confidence and start to turn this thing around next year. CMU is next Thursday at the Q, but in the meantime, this was a game where it would have been easy for BG to mail it in. All credit to them for bringing the big effort, finishing the job and getting the reward.