For the first time in 10 years, the Bowling Green Falcons completed a sweep over the Miami Redhawks last night. Along the way, they defeated the evil genius, Coach Charlie Coles, for perhaps the final time. A nice crowd of 2,566 watched the game--BG is slowly growing a fan base at the Stroh.
The win will not, in the end, mean too much. Kent won, which means BG cannot qualify for a bye, and therefore BG is now playing for 5th or 6th place, and waiting to see which of the bottom two teams in the conference they will play (most likely NIU or CMU). The game will be Monday night at the Stroh, and will be the end of the first year in the new home of the Falcons.
The victory did have some modest meaning. It took BG to 16-13 and ensured a winning season. Again, that's a modest goal, but it is only the 3rd time that BG has had a winning season since the Dakich West Virginia debacle. I hoped we'd be better this year, and I am sure everyone involved in the program feels the same way. Having said that, we're hitting tournament time and we seem to be playing pretty gritty ball and finding the late run that wins games like this, and if we can continue that, who knows, a tournament run might still be in the cards.
It was senior night, and included an emotional ceremony for Oglesby, Brown and Thomas. You want to win on senior night and it was good to see the Falcons pull it off.
Miami's announcer said in the BG pre-game that Coles was prepared to make it ugly and he did. Miami likes to play plodding and slow basketball and they certainly did that. There were 54 possessions in the game, the lowest since the 09-10 Rocket game. (BG has yet to lose a game with 60 possessions or fewer).
There are advantages and disadvantages to that strategy. The upside is that you are not going to get far behind. The downside is that you are not going to get very far ahead, either. In the first half, BG led by 9 with 4:52 left, but scored only 3 more points for the rest of the half and the Redhawks went to the locker room down only 3.
BG came out hot in the second half and had the lead back to 12 with about 15 minutes left to play. Then, the Falcons hit one of those stretches that they were so known for early in the season but which you don't see much of lately, and that is a loooong stretch of time when they simply could not buy a bucket. BG went from 14:49 until 7:11 without scoring single point. That's pretty bad. On the other hand, over that same time, Miami only scored 14 and could only muster a two point lead.
They were efficient during that period, that's for sure. They were slicing the 2-3 zone to shreds, not from the outside but from the inside. They'd get the ball to Mavunga, and he'd either shoot or find an open guy with the ball for an easy basket.
So they were efficient, but their pace just inhibited their ability to take advantage of a 7 minute BG scoring drought.
With 4:32 left, the Falcons did what they have done in winning games...came up with the game's final run. Dee Brown, who had been cold all night on his senior night, nailed a huge 3 to put BG up 2. Miami never led again. It was tied with 2:55 left. In just over a minute, from 2:25 to 1:15, BG made 3 baskets and got 2 stops on the Miami end and suddenly had a 6 point lead and that was all there was. Miami didn't foul until late, and BG tightened the D up providing some really tight perimeter coverage without leaving the offensive boards open.
This is a game where tempo free stats are useful. You might look at the stats and think that it was a poor offensive game, but in reality, it was middle of pack for the year. BG scored 1.04 points per possession and allowed .94. I thought the key was perimeter defense. BG held Miami to 25% from beyond the arc and conference leader Brian Sullivan was 0 for 5. As any Falcon fan knows, perimeter defense has been a struggle for us in the zone, but BG made that work last night.
Miami actually out shot BG by a little and didn't do much on the offensive boards, though they never do. BG had a great game taking care of the ball--only 17% turnovers as opposed to 20% for Miami and neither team got to the line very much. The evil genius said in the post-game he thought they played well enough to win, and they probably did.
Individually, BG played their starters for most of the game and had 4 players in double figures. Crawford had 16 and 4 assists, Calhoun 15 on 7 of 13 shooting (some on impossible angles), Thomas had 10/9 and Brown scored 11. Cam Black had 5 rebounds in 28 minutes.
For Miami, Mavunga had 17 and 11, but made five turnovers.
One last note on Coles. His strength was clearly down. It took him a long time to get across the court. We wish him well.
And so, the regular home season ends. There will be one more game. BG finishes 12-3 at home for its first season in the Stroh.
Next up, a trip to Buffalo, with not too much on the line for BG but a lot on the line for the Bulls. It is a good chance to show that BG is tournament tough....
at BOWLING GREEN 56, MIAMI (OH.) 51 02/29/2012
MIAMI (OH.) 9-19 (5-10) -- J. Harris 4-9 0-2 11; Q. Rollins 4-9 1-1 10; J. Mavunga 7-11 2-4 17; D. McGhee 6-7 1-3 13; B. Sullivan 0-7 0-0 0; J. Sewell 0-2 0-0 0; A. Thomas 0-0 0-0 0; V. Legarza 0-0 0-0 0; W. Sullivan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-45 4-10 51. BOWLING GREEN 16-13 (9-6) -- J. Crawford 6-9 1-2 16; A. Calhoun 7-13 1-2 15; S. Thomas 4-13 0-0 10; D. Brown 3-9 4-5 11; C. Black 1-1 0-0 2; T. Oglesby 1-3 0-0 2; A. Henderson 0-0 0-0 0; J. Erger 0-1 0-0 0; C. Sealey 0-1 0-0 0; J. Clarke 0-0 0-0 0; C. Orr 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-50 6-9 56.
Three-point goals: MIO 5-20 (J. Mavunga 1-2; J. Harris 3-8; Q. Rollins 1-4; J. Sewell 0-1; B. Sullivan 0-5), BGSU 6-14 (S. Thomas 2-5; J. Crawford 3-5; J. Erger 0-1; D. Brown 1-3); Rebounds: MIO 24 (J. Mavunga 10), BGSU 27 (S. Thomas 9); Assists: MIO 17 (Q. Rollins 6), BGSU 11 (J. Crawford 4); Total Fouls -- MIO 11, BGSU 11; Fouled Out: MIO-None; BGSU-None.