Playing without your best player hurts a lot, especially if you are on the road in a small, uncomfortable gym. When that player is do-everything senior Richaun Holmes, the task is all the more tougher.
But, even without Holmes and backup center Delvin Dickerson, the Falcons rolled into Loretto, Pennsylvania and knocked off the St. Francis Red Flash in a 67-64 nail-biter. With the win, BG moves on to the second round of the CIT to face a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
Bowling Green looked like they'd have a real fight on their hands after the first few minutes of the game. A Dominique Major three-pointer put the Flash up five at 15-10, but BG answered. The Falcons went on an 11-0 run over five minutes of play to get back in the game and take the lead at 21-15. A Ronnie Drinnon three capped an 11-4 run for St. Francis, giving them the lead at 26-25. After trading a few baskets the Flash headed to the locker room up three, 33-30.
The Falcons took the lead back in the second half at 46-45 on a Zack Denny three but quickly found themselves down again by four at 53-49 just three minutes later. Six points from Anthony Henderson and a Josh Gomez basket propelled the Falcons on an 8-0 run to take a four point lead with seven minutes remaining, and the rest of the game turned out to be a back-and-forth battle.
Two David Joseph free throws gave BG the lead back at 63-62 with 2:12 left on the clock. St. Francis wouldn't score again until the waning seconds, and the Falcons closed the game out with a Gomez lay-up and two more Joseph free throws.
St. Francis's scoring came entirely from their starters. Ollie Jackson was the only player off of the bench to score for the Red Flash, even though two other bench players were on the court for thirteen and eighteen minutes. Malik Harmon led the way with 18 points and Earl Brown followed up with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Without Holmes in the line-up it was Henderson's time to shine, as he scored 20 points on 7-10 shooting including a 4-5 mark from beyond the arc. Senior guard Jehvon Clarke also made it to double digits with 12 points and eight rebounds and Gomez had a season-high ten points.
Bowling Green will likely host a game in the second round of the CIT, according to BG beat writer John Wagner of the Toledo Blade:
Likely opponents include IPFW, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky and Evansville as proximity is a factor in reducing the schools' travel costs. BG could eventually play Western Michigan and Kent State too if they keep winning, as the tournament has pitted teams from the same conference against each other before.