The Falcons Men's team fell to 0-2 with a 78-72 loss at South Dakota. I felt it was a winnable game going in and it probably was. One factor that was different was that it was the first game for the Coyotes in their new arena...so that's a momentum advantage for them. The crowd was just over 3,000 but it sounded like they were into the game.
BG was back to full strength with the exception of Jeffrey Turner, who is still injured. It was a competitive game most of the way. BG led by 2 inside of 2 minutes left in the first half. South Dakota then went on an incredible 3-minute, 17-2 run that left them up 13 with 18 minutes left to play in the game.
BG battled hard from then on in, tying the game with 10 minutes left and taking the lead with just inside 8 minutes left. BG led by as much as 5 and then led by 2 with 3 minutes left, 69-67. Then, just as they did at the end of the first half, South Dakota went on a strong run, outscoring BG 11-3 coming home for the victory. Simply put, BG could not get stops or baskets when needed in the stretch run. And, in fact, South Dakota won the game on those two short half-ending spurts...BG was the better team for the rest of the game. Alas, that is of no help.
BG ended up with .94 points per possession, which isn't great but it isn't awful. South Dakota had 1.01, which is about the average for a D1 game. (Coach Huger has mentioned defensive efficiency and tempo-free rebounding recently, so I think we have a convert).
The main issue for BG is the same as it usually is, which is an inability to project the basketball in a way that makes it go through the rim so as to count. BG shot 36.1% overall, 37% on 2FG, 33% on 3FG and 40.3% for EFG%, all of which are well below what you need to win. The 37% on 2FGs is amazing. BG mitigated that by taking good care of the ball, having a slightly above average night on the offensive boards and making 14 out of 18 FTs.
Unfortunately, South Dakota shot 42% overall, 45% on 2FG and 35% on 3FG, for an EFG of 47%. They took as good care of the ball as BG did and lost most of the battles on the boards, to BG's credit. Lastly, for the second straight game BG fouled a lot. Yes, some were late as BG tried to catch up, but the Coyotes shot 33 FG and were 24-33...so plus 10 at the FT compared to BG. (A refresher on the Four Factors can be found here.)
Individually, BG was led by Rasheed Worrell off the bench, with 14 points on 6 of 11 shooting and 5 rebounds in 18 minutes. Wes Alcegaire had 12 points, but it was less efficient, at 4-10 shooting to go with 6 rebounds. Ish Ali had 11 points on 3 of 10 shooting, also a long way to get 11. Not to call guys out, but Wiggins and Denny both had tough nights shooting. Rodrick Caldwell bounced back from his tough shooting night at Oakland, going 3 of 5.
Wiggins did add 12 rebounds and Ali had 6 assists over 2 TOs. Denny had 7 rebounds.
Listened to the pre-game, and Coach said he is trying to balance out the minutes so no one plays more than 30. This is similar to the way Akron plays. He said he feels BG's depth is a strength...which is accurate. BG doesn't have a lot of great players but they don't lose as much as some teams when they go the bench and you want to capitalize on that.
The next five for BG are at home, including three on consecutive days starting Saturday. Previews on that are upcoming later in the week, but looking forward to seeing BG hang some W's up.