Saturday, February 27, 2021

BG Breaks JAR Curse, Wins by 12.

BG beat Akron last night by 12 at the JAR, the first home loss for the Zips this year and the first win in that venue in 11 years.  In that game--and in the last four--we've seen the team we hoped we had this year.  Last night's win was a comprehensive defeat of a good team on their floor.  It was the kind of game that might make you think you could win a title.

First a little history.  In 2009, BG was at the JAR.  The Falcons were in the running for the title.  There were about two minutes left and the Zips were turning the heat up in a 1-point game.  BG couldn't even get the ball in.  Finally they did, but Akron's defense was everywhere.  The ball ended up in the corner with Brian Moten who drained a late-clock 3FG to put BG ahead.  The Falcons then survived a late flurry at the basket and then a run-out dunk (also by Moten) made it a 50-46 victory.  The game put BG in first place and then ended up winning the regular season.  March 1, 2009.

It was an ugly streak.  Only 3 of the 11 games were inside 5 points.  Seven of 11 had double digit margins, 3 above 20 and 1 above 30.

And last night, it went the other way.

It was the kind of no-doubt victory that gives you confidence.

The first half was very entertaining.  The first 10 minutes were very close.  The first run went to Akron, who went up 7 with about 8 minutes left.  It was only 21-14...BG was struggling to score early, as they have before.

The scoring picked up on both sides, and with 3:38 left it was 33-27 Akron.  BG went on an 11-4 run to end the half in the lead by 1.

There were 8 lead changes in the first half.

The second half was impressive for the Falcons, who led for almost 18 minutes, while Akron led for :45.  

BG built the lead gradually, but steadily.  It was 6 points with 16 to play.  It was 7 with 12 to play.  It was still 7 with 6 minutes left, but Akron never got it within 3 over that span.  

The last media timeout came with 3:29 left and BG up 8, 72-64.  And then BG did what Akron had done to them so many times...closed the door with extreme prejudice.  BG got a stop, split a pair of free throws...and then Caleb Fields got a steal...that Matheny tapped forward...and then Fulcher converted to an and-one to put BG up 12 with 2:13 left.

And that was it.  There was no last minute drama, no clinging to the lead.  Akron never got closer than 11 and BG made all 4 last minute FTs.

That's how you win a good team wins a game.

BG scored 1.19 points per possession.  That's their 4th best offensive game of the year and the best since the second CMU game.  Meanwhile, they held Akron to 1.02, well below the MAC average for the season.

The spread was driven by shooting.  BG shot 55% from 2FG and 30% from 3FG.  Only 34% of their FG attempts were 3s, which is among their lower numbers for the year.  I would guess that's because of the offensive rebounds, which were really high--3rd highest in MAC play.

Meanwhile, Akron shot 41% from 2 and 26% from 3FG.  They came in as a very effective shooting team. It was their worst shooting game of the year.  The FG spread was so significant, in fact, that Akron was +8 at the free throw line and lost by 12.  BG made 31 FGs and AK made 21.

Individually, Justin Turner led BG with 19.  That was 6 of 11 and 1 of 5, 4 of 4 at the line and 1 assist over 3 turnovers.  Metheny continues to be hot, scoring 15 on 3 of 6 from 2FG and 3FG.  Also 5 assists over 2 turnovers.  Fields had a nice 13 on 4 of 5 and 1 of 3 shooting.  Dylan Swingle scored 9 on 4 of 5 shooting and Plowden had 6 rebounds.

For Akron, it was really interesting.  LCJ had 29, but it took him 20 shots to get there.  He was 2 of 8 from 2FG.  Meanwhile, no other Zip scored in double figures.  Trimble was 2 of 9 from 3FG.

So, the Falcons move to 14 and 9 and 10-7.  They have clinched a spot in Cleveland, where it's going to be an 8-team show where you could see 5-6 teams have a shot to win it.  (We can argue about Ball State, I don't see it).  Two more regular season games, with Miami and Ohio both at home next week.  That Miami loss earlier is a rankler....time to right that wrong.

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