Thursday, January 11, 2018

BG Closes Well, Beats NIU

So, running a little late here, but BG put together a winning effort on Tuesday to beat NIU and move to 2-1 in the MAC, holding serve at home.  For much of the game BG played really well.  Obviously, you'd like to blow out to that big lead and hold it the whole way home and win by 10, but I just don't think our guys are there yet.  We'll take a winning effort anytime.

I mean, BG led the game for 34 consecutive minutes.  They led by 14 with 9 minutes left when things began to get a little loose, as NIU scored 13 straight points to chop the lead to 1 with 6 minutes left.  That's a fast way to lose a lead of that size.

Now, to BG's credit--and in contrast to some of our teams from the past--BG stopped the run and made the scores and stops they needed to win the game.  Other BG teams might have just folded up and lacked the ability to respond as needed.  In the possession just after the lead was cut to 1, Matt Fox drained a 3 to put it back up to 4.  When NIU got it to 2, Justin Turner nailed a 3 to put it back to 5.

In all, in the six minutes left after NIU got the lead to 1, BG outscored them 14-6.  That's what you have to do to win conference games.  That's only 2 FGs for NIU in those last six minutes.  Final score, 66-57.

Now here's the thing.  BG has let some very poor offensive teams run wild on them.  In this one, NIU came in averaging 1.05 per possession and BG held them .78 points per possession.  That's the best defensive performance for BG this year against any team not named for a place where you can take the cure.  As you can see below, BG did an excellent job defending the shot, did a fantastic job on the defensive boards against a normally very physical NIU team, and held the Huskies to 14 FT attempts, of which they made 10.

It was no work of art for BG on offense.  BG had .9 points per possession, which is their fifth straight D1 game under 1. BG shot poorly and had a terrible game for turnovers.  They did a great job on the boards, however, and got to the line 20 times, making 16, which is a significant improvement over the Miami game and maybe the biggest difference.

Individually, the big story was Wiggins.  He went 15 and 15 on 5 of 11 shooting and five of 8 at the line, including his last 3 in crunch time.  He did have 5 turnovers, some of which were not directly on him.  NIU was packing it in on him and I think we forced and telegraphed the ball in their a few times.  Justin Turner had a tough 14 on 4 of 14 shooting and 5 rebounds.  Frye had an even rougher 11 on 3 of 8 shooting, including a couple of air balls.  Koch added 7 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes.

Antwon Lillard continues to be a contributor since his suspension.  He had 8 points and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes to go with 4 assists and 2 of 4 shooting.  The team just seems more effective when he is the game.  He gives them another ball handler and someone of size who can create opportunities.  Matt Fox had 8 points in 16 minutes on 3 of 6 shooting.

BG played very small again.  As noted, Koch only played 20 minutes and Plowden played 8 and Uju and Gadsen did not play at all.

Next up is Akron at the JAR, a building of many horrors which can possibly be exorcised since Keith Dambrot has departed.

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