In front of their biggest crowd in seven seasons, and one that mostly consisted of their own fans, BG and UT played a very entertaining, competitive game that was made all the better by the fact that the Falcons Won and the Rockets Lost. (66-63).
How's that taste, UT?
In addition to the big rivalry win, the best part was those masked Rumpus Dudes from UT heading over to our student section to dish out a little smack talk based on a half time lead. They stood there like doofuses pointing at the scoreboard....only a Rocket fan talks smack when they are up at halftime.
Presumably they didn't do anything similar on the walk of shame to their cars.
It was certainly an odd game. UT had been dreadful from beyond the arc but they got red hot -- and BG had a historically bad night shooting FTs -- but in the end, BG had a late run when they needed it and picked up the win.
To begin with, I thought the game environment was great. The students were fantastic, and the big crowd really added energy and enjoyment to the game. It was fun. One of my concerns has been that whenever BG has seemed to get a decent crowd over the last few years we have lost, so let's hope that we can sustain this one and get some of those people back for our three remaining home games. We'll have another sell out next year when MSU comes in....anyway, it was a great night to be a Falcon.
For much of the game, victory was far from assured for BG. In the post-game, Coach likened the early minutes of a game like this to a sugar high--you come out with an energy burst but it fades quickly and you gotta keep going. Eight minutes in BG was up 12-5, but then the game turned and the Rockets really took control of the game for about 18 minutes. They were simply unconscious from 3, and they had been the worst in the MAC (in conference play) coming in. At the same time, BG was having trouble getting anything to fall, and the Rockets closed the last 12 minutes of the first half on a 24-10 run.
They came out of the locker room with an old school 3 to go up by 10, and they had done what every road team wants to do...taken a big crowd out of the game. They led by 10 most of the time until there were 14 minutes left in the half.
There was a lot of talk in the post-game presser about defenses. BG was in their 2-3 zone (despite brave talk earlier in the year and a lot of time spent in the non-conference schedule in man, we are now playing mostly zone) and I wondered (along with many others) whether BG should come out of the zone and go to man, given the Rockets' hot 3-point shooting. Coach said that he felt that BG was simply missing assignments and that he still felt the zone was the best...partly because BG was concerned about defending Rian Pearson in a man set.
As a personal aside, one of the things in basketball is that a lead built on unconscious shooting (and bad shooting on the other side) is a little bit like the mortgage crisis, and is generally unsustainable. It was a reasonable bet that the Rockets could not keep that up.
What the Falcons did do defensively was go to full and 3/4 court pressure. They had used it early, and then pulled it back, and then went back to it. Also, BG has a nuisance pressure and a real pressure, and they switched to the real pressure, and I thought it made a difference. BG forced some turnovers, and even when they didn't, UT's clock was often at 22 before they got into their set. They only beat it once that I recall for an easy basket. Scott Thomas is incredibly effective in that set. When you are looking at a cross-court pass and he is lurking in the middle, it is very intimidating, because if you don't make the perfect pass, he will get it.
The game turned around so fast it was hard to believe. In about 90 seconds BG went on a 10-3 run, including 3s by Scott Thomas and Dee Brown, and BG was down 3 with 13 left. UT brooked that storm and continued to lead by a 5-6 margin until there were about seven minutes left when Brown his another 3 to cut the lead to 2, and then Calhoun followed with a dunk to tie the game with 6:54 left.
Now, everyone in the arena is engaged, the place is electric...the teams responded by remaining tied at 52 from 6:54 to 4:03. The game was also tied at 57 with 2:40 left. Late in basketball games, sometimes a couple of plays set the tone and you can ride it out, and that's what happened.
First, BG ran a play for Scott Thomas to drive to the hoop. You don't see that very often in our set, but he was on the dribble, hit the elbow and drove the lane. According to Coach Orr, he kind of looked at Oglesby which froze the man on him and Calhoun's man had to stay on him and Thomas got to the rim for the old school 3...which he converted on a night where BG could not hit FTs.
Then, on the press, Crawford got a steal and came down under pressure and hit the layup and BG had a five point lead. BG got a missed shot but UT came out of the scramble with the rebound and fed Curtis Dennis who drained yet another 3 and with 1:14 left it was a 2 point lead.
BG came down, ran the clock very deep before Crawford missed a shot, but Calhoun followed the offensive rebound with a huge tap in and BG was up 4 again with :37 left. (Coach Hopson said after the game that it was the kind of play Calhoun should be making in "every game.")
At this point, BG just needs one stop to get the win, and they got it as a 3 fell off for UT and Oglesby got the board and got the ball to Brown, who was fouled. Brown hit one of the 2 FTs and BG was now up 5 with :16 left.
Brown missed the second shot, but as Julius Brown was bringing the ball up for UT, Crawford picked his pocket and forced them to foul him again. He split the free throws, and then UT came down and nailed a 3 to get it back to 3. They fouled Scott Thomas, who missed both free throws, but with 2 seconds left, getting down floor off a rebound and without timeouts is almost impossible and the Falcons had the win.
If you like basketball, this was the kind of thing you like.
BG was led by outstanding games by both Scott Thomas and A'uston Calhoun. Both made clutch plays and had just great games. Thomas played 40 minutes, had 21 points on 9 of 14 shooting, with 6 rebounds -- 5 on offense -- and 4 steals. Kids, that's a stat line. Calhoun had 20 points on 10 of 18 shooting, with 12 rebounds and 7 on the offensive glass. Also a commanding night.
Dee Brown contributed 11 and 4 assists and while he didn't shoot well, he did have two clutch second half 3s. Jordan Crawford struggled, especially in the first half, but ended up with 8 points and 4 steals...but 2 assists on 3 TOs. BG played a very tight rotation. Only Oglesby got more than 10 minutes off the bench and had 8 key rebounds.
In terms of team stats, it was a very weird game. I've already mentioned UT's ridiculously hot shooting. You'd think if you had one team make 12 of 19 from 3 and their opponents go 6 of 20 from the FT line you 'd know which team won. BG was fortunate to be able to force 18 turnovers and make only 11...and to get 50% of the available offensive rebounds, which created a huge number of second chance points and gave BG enough offensive firepower to win the game.
A couple of notes. It was BG's worst FT effort since the Xavier game in the 09-10 season. And it was the second best offensive rebounding night of the season for BG, second only to the Kent game.
And so, the Falcons win their fourth straight and their fourth straight over the Rockets. It was a very satisfying victory. The Rockets are on their way back. Last year's team was non D-I quality, but there are now some players here and I suspect that the Rockets will be competitive next year...and in the West Division of the MAC, there are easy wins to be had. UT is the second-youngest team in the MAC and the only team without a senior.
And so the Falcons say good-bye to the MAC West and move back into the MAC East. Wednesday's game is at a reeling OU team that BG beat at the Stroh. It will be very interesting to see how that plays itself out...we are tied with OU in the standings and a win would put BG one up on them with the tie breaker.
To me, the key is Calhoun. He has now posted two strong games in a row. We always knew he had this in him...if he continues to be a dominant presence inside, this team gets a lot harder to beat.
at BOWLING GREEN 66, TOLEDO 63 02/11/2012
TOLEDO 11-14 (3-8) -- J. Brown 6-13 1-1 17; D. Buckley 3-7 0-0 8; M. Smith 2-4 3-3 8; R. Pearson 5-11 3-4 13; C. Dennis 6-11 0-0 17; R. Wonnell 0-0 0-0 0; R. Holliday 0-0 0-0 0; D. Dear 0-0 0-0 0; A. Mathew 0-0 0-0 0; J. Ewing 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-46 7-8 63. BOWLING GREEN 13-11 (7-4) -- S. Thomas 9-14 1-5 21; A. Calhoun 10-18 0-3 20; D. Brown 3-10 3-4 11; J. Crawford 3-13 2-4 8; T. Oglesby 2-3 0-4 4; C. Black 1-2 0-0 2; A. Henderson 0-2 0-0 0; J. Clarke 0-0 0-0 0; C. Sealey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-63 6-20 66.
Three-point goals: TOL 12-19 (D. Buckley 2-3; C. Dennis 5-6; M. Smith 1-2; J. Brown 4-8), BGSU 4-15 (S. Thomas 2-5; A. Calhoun 0-1; J. Crawford 0-2; D. Brown 2-5; A. Henderson 0-2); Rebounds: TOL 27 (R. Pearson 8), BGSU 36 (A. Calhoun 12); Assists: TOL 10 (R. Pearson 3), BGSU 8 (D. Brown 4); Total Fouls -- TOL 18, BGSU 9; Fouled Out: TOL-None; BGSU-None.