Is it time to give the Richaun Holmes-Cameron Black tag team a nickname yet? After their performances over the last seven days, it must might be. The pair of shot blockers had their way with Morehead St. Eagles shooters, as they blocked a combined 12 shots to help the Bowling Green Falcons earn a 67-61 road victory. The win improves BGSU's 2013-2014 record to 5-5 and is the team's first non-conference road win in nearly two years (Dec. 22, 2011).
The Falcons blocked a season-best 14 shots during the game and ventured into double-figures in that category for the third straight game. Holmes had seven blocks, which tied a career-high that he had set in BGSU's previous game against North Dakota. Black set a new personal record with five blocks. Holmes now has 35 blocks for the season and is tied for the Mid-American Conference lead in that category. NCAA statistics leaders have not been updated for this week, but it is likely that his 3.5 blocks-per-game average will now rank among the nation's top 20 players.
The game started well for Bowling Green, as the Falcons held the lead for most of the game's first 6:30. Spencer Parker sank three early shots to score six of the team's first eight points. However, Morehead State quickly turned the game around with a 13-2 run. Angelo Warner led that burst for the Eagles with five points, and MSU held an 18-10 lead with 9:09 left in the first half.
Jehvon Clarke briefly stemmed the Eagles' tide with a three-pointer to cut the BGSU deficit to just three points at 18-15, but Morehead State immediately went on another 10-3 run. A layup by Luke Pajkovic gave the Eagles a 28-18 lead with 5:01 left in the first half. The ten-point margin would be their biggest lead of the game.
Morehead State's lead remained between five and eight points for the next few minutes, as the Falcons struggled to get momentum back. Warner sank a three-pointer with 1:51 left in the half to make the score 38-30, but Bowling Green responded with baskets on back-to-back possessions. The Falcons went to halftime down just four, 38-34; it was their smallest deficit in the final eight minutes of the half.
The game remained extremely close for the remainder of the game; in fact, neither team held a lead bigger than six points during the second half. BGSU opened the second half with a layup by Clarke and a jumper by Anthony Henderson to even the game at 40. Both teams traded blows until the Falcons finally reclaimed the lead. Spencer Parker's layup with 10:32 left in the game gave BGSU a 49-48 lead. It was their first lead in over 23 minutes of game time.
Warner split a pair of free throws for the Eagles to tie the game at 49, but Holmes followed that with a three-point play for Bowling Green. He was fouled while shooting a jumper and sank the free throw after the successful field goal. BGSU held a 52-49 lead with 8:23 left and would not relinquish that lead for the remainder of the game.
Bowling Green was able to hold off the Eagles thanks to excellent shooting from the free throw line down the stretch, as well as two timely three-pointers by Anthony Henderson. At the charity stripe, the Falcons were 7-for-9 during the final 8:23, and MSU never got closer than two points.
The Falcons shot well once again, as they were 23-for-47 (.489) from the floor. That total included five baskets in eight attempts from three-point range (.625). BGSU was also 16-for-23 from the free throw line overall. The Falcon defense held Morehead State to just 22-for-72 shooting, including only 9-for-35 (.257) in the second half. The Eagles made just six of 25 three-pointers (.240) and only two of six free throws in the second half. BGSU was able to overcome 21 turnovers in the victory. They also overcame 24 offensive rebounds by MSU, as the Eagles held a 47-34 rebounding edge.
All five starters scored in double figures for BGSU, as three bench players accounted for just four points in 26 minutes. Holmes led all scorers with 17 points, including eight free throws (in 11 attempts). Holmes also had five rebounds and two steals to go with his seven blocks. Black had a double-double with 11 points and a game-best 12 rebounds. He also had two assists along with his five blocks. Clarke and Parker each scored 12, while Henderson contributed 11. Brent Arrington led Morehead State with 16 points.
Bowling Green has now won three of its last four games, with the only loss in that stretch an overtime defeat at Xavier. The Falcons are 5-5, and their opponents in those five losses are a combined 40-12 (Wisconsin 12-0, Saint Louis 9-2, Xavier 8-3, South Florida 6-2, Oral Roberts 5-5). They have an opportunity to enter conference season over .500, as they host Detroit next Sunday (Dec. 22nd) before playing two post-Christmas games at Wright State and at home against IPFW.