For a while, it really looked like Bowling Green might have enough to upset Ohio in front of 10,000 rowdy fans in Athens. For a while, Bowling Green played point-for-point with the Bobcats. The Falcons were playing a smart inside-out game that featured 20 points in the paint in the first 20 minutes. Then, the second half started, and Ohio pulled away.
On Saturday afternoon, it felt like I watched the Falcons play two distinct games. In one, they used sound ball movement to create a lot of high-percentage scoring opportunities. In the other, they did not create plays through passing and settled for too many jump shots. Unfortunately, this has been a problem all year for Bowling Green. During far too many games, one half is good and the other is bad. The Falcons have put together good 40 minute efforts this season, but more often, this is a one-half team.
The most telling number to illustrate this is points in the paint. In the first half, the Falcons held a 20-10 advantage. Their ability to create those points is what allowed them to stay close. However, Ohio turned the tables in the second half, as they outscored Bowling Green 18-12 in the paint in that half. That 16-point flip made a huge difference.
Of course, some of the first-half advantage in the paint was due to turnovers. The Falcons created 11 points off of seven turnovers during that frame. But, in the second half, Ohio turned the ball over only three times, and those led to only three BGSU points. While the Falcons struggled to create turnovers, they also could not avoid their own. Bowling Green had nine turnovers after halftime and a game total of 16. The nine second half turnovers led to 14 OU points.
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A'uston Calhoun led all scorers with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting. He also pulled down eight rebounds. Jordon Crawford contributed another 17 points but had four turnovers to go with his four assists. Craig Sealey hit four of five shots for eight points and had a game-high 12 rebounds. He helped BGSU earn a 41-32 rebounding edge, including 12-6 on the offensive side.
Unfortunately, the Falcons' defense could not restrain Ohio's balanced attack. All 10 players who saw time scored for OU, and four players ended the game in double figures. Reggie Keely led Bobcat players with 15 points and posted a double-double with his 10 rebounds. D.J. Cooper was held to only 10 points, but he also dished out eight assists.
With the loss, Bowling Green drops to 9-14 overall and 4-6 in MAC play. They fall into a tie for sixth place in the MAC with Buffalo and (probably) Kent State. Meanwhile, Ohio maintains the second-best record in the MAC by improving to 17-6 and 8-1 in conference play. They continue to trail Akron, who won again today. This is Ohio's best record after nine MAC games since the 1984-85 season.
The next two games will likely be just as challenging as today's was for Bowling Green. Their next two dates are against MAC division leaders Western Michigan and Akron. They host the Broncos on Wednesday night before traveling to Akron next Saturday. Ohio has it just a bit easier -- their games this week are at Central Michigan and at home against Kent State.