Coming into this game, Bowling Green had eight victories: seven at home and one at a neutral site against Division II Alabama-Huntsville. No road victories bestowed this struggling team who had looked terrific at times away from home - South Florida and the second half of CMU come to mind - but just couldn't close the deal.
A game at DeKalb? Well that's gotta be a good sign. Even a half-jinx attempt didn't cause this team to waver:
I do not like to lie, so if I say BG will get thefirst road win tonight, guys don't make me a liar.— LaMonta Stone (@lamontastone) February 6, 2013
The Falcons basically coasted to a huge lead — 16-3 — and never looked back. The bulk of the scoring came from the interior where A'uston Calhoun put in 15 points and Richaun Holmes came up with 11 points and three blocks. His play continues to get better on both sides of the court, and they desperately need his energy. Chauncey Orr played some good defense as well and Luke Kraus drilled a few three-pointers to keep the Huskies at bay.
Jordon Crawford was a little more wired than normal and only hit 1-of-9 shots, finishing with two points, four steals and three assists. The play that sticks out in my head was when Crawford made a great play on defense to steal the ball, then tried to get too cutesy on a pass to his trailing man and turned it over. But one of his assists was an excellent alley-oop to Craig Sealey, so at least they showed flashes of excitement.
Which brings us back to Northern Illinois. Look, we know what they are. A win at Kent State won't solve everything, and they still have a ways to go. Abdel Nader is still a joy to watch at times. His 6'7" frame can establish a mismatch from the perimeter and he did finish with 12 points and eight rebounds. But the field goal percentage again took a hit: just 27 percent on the night, 15 percent on 3-pointers and 61 percent on free throws.
They did win the battle of offensive rebounding, and maybe that's because some of those shots were so off-kilter that they found themselves in great position. But that's at least a valid strength that can keep NIU in games. Unfortunately, there were moments such as Keith Gray's wide-open missed dunk which were bad omens, and they fell too far behind, too early.
Because of their struggles, I hesitate to put too much credence on this win, but they did win by an impressive margin and sustained a couple of NIU scoring runs to still win by 16. I'll take it. I don't have a choice.
Bowling Green is now 4-5 in the conference and suddenly all alone in third place in the MAC East, sixth overall in the conference. Now for the bad news. Their next three matches are against the top MAC teams: at Ohio, home against WMU and at Akron. Realistically, it'll be a joyous day in Wood County if they win one of those.
NIU falls back to 3-6 but might be able to move back up the ladder with upcoming winnable games against Buffalo and Ball State.