The Bowling Green Falcons earned their first Mid-American Conference victory of 2014 with a defense-led 67-57 victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas on Wednesday night (Jan. 15) at Bowling Green's Stroh Center. The 67 points by the Falcons represent their most in a game since also scoring 67 against Morehead State exactly one month ago. The Falcons are now 8-2 on the season when scoring at least 64 points.
Bowling Green started the game with the hot hand. Anthony Henderson kicked things off with a three-pointer and then hit a second with just 2:54 gone from the clock. In fact, the Falcons were successful on three of their first five field goal attempts, and they took an 8-6 lead when Richaun Holmes threw down an alley-oop dunk with 14:58 left in the half. The BGSU defense did their part by creating three Chippewa turnovers in the first 5:07 of the game.
Unfortunately, the Falcons went offense went mostly dormant for the next nine minutes as Central Michigan built a 26-19 lead. During that span, CMU made 8 of 12 shots while BGSU scored just three baskets. Chris Fowler and Blake Hibbitts scored six each during the 20-11 spurt, and Hibbitts' points came from two long three-pointers.
The remainder of the game was a series of runs.
Down by seven, Bowling Green exploded for a 25-4 burst between the end of the first half and the beginning of the second. Over the first half's final 4:46, the Falcons held CMU to just one field goal while forcing five turnovers. The run started after a missed layup by DeAndray Buckley, which led to four points from Holmes within a 60-second span. A three from Spencer Parker with 2:35 left in the half gave BGSU a 28-26 lead, and the Falcons expanded it to five (33-28) by halftime. In all, BGSU scored 14 points off CMU missed field goals and turnovers to end the half.
The Falcons continued their assault in the second half, and the defense did not allow a field goal for the first 6:53 after intermission. On offense, Parker and Anthony Henderson were making things happen, as they scored nine of BGSU's first 11 points of the half. Parker's back-to-back three pointer and layup gave BGSU a 44-30 lead with 14:39 left in the game.
CMU finally made a shot when Fowler threw in a layup with 13:07 on the clock. After a layup by Holmes for BGSU, the Chippewas went on a 10-2 run, including five points by John Simons. Simons and Spencer Krannitz hit back-to-back threes to help the cause. A Hibbitts jumper with 9:15 remaining cut BGSU's lead to just five (48-43), but the Falcons responded.
Parker and Holmes got two straight old-fashioned three-point plays in less than a minute to push the Falcon lead back to 11, and Holmes rattled the rim with two more dunks shortly after. A jumper by Jehvon Clarke capped the 12-2 run, and BGSU had a game-best 15-point lead with 4:08 left in the game.
Central Michigan would not die, though. Threes from Fowler and Hibbitts fueled an 8-0 run for the Chippewas, and they were within 60-53. They still had 2:10 to work with, too. However, the Falcons sank five of their eight free throws in the final two minutes, and their defense prevented CMU from making necessary shots. The Chippewas could not get closer than seven, and the Falcons ultimately claimed a 10-point win.
BGSU had one of their best shooting nights of the season. They finished 48.9% from the floor by making 23 of 47 shots. In the second half, they were lights out and sank 13 of 22 field goal attempts (59.1%). They did a great job of getting the ball inside and only attempted 15 threes. That also helped BGSU get to the free throw line, where they were 16-for-22 (72.7%). That percentage is well above their season average. Central Michigan was held to 40% shooting but had wildly different halves. In the first, the Chippewas were 12-for-20 (60%) but shot just 8-for-30 (26.7%) in the second half. They were also just 10-for-16 from the free throw line.
Bowling Green did not have a rebounding advantage, as the two teams finished even at 30 apiece, but they had a big 32-20 edge in points in the paint. They also created 16 turnovers and gave the ball away just 12 times, which created a 21-13 advantage in points off turnovers.
Richaun Holmes and Spencer Parker led BGSU with 20 points each. Holmes made seven of eight shots and was 6-for-9 from the free throw line. He also had ten rebounds (for a double-double), two assists, four more blocks, and two steals. Parker made six of ten shots, including both of his three-point attempts. Anthony Henderson added 15 points and two rebounds. Cameron Black did not score, but he did have four assists and three blocks. Chris Fowler led the Chippewas' attack with 19 points, while Blake Hibbitts added 14.
BGSU improves to 7-9 overall and 1-2 in the MAC. They'll play their first road conference game on Sunday at Western Michigan. Central Michigan drops to 7-8 overall and is still winless at 0-3 in the MAC. They return home to face Eastern Michigan on Saturday.