It’s been a struggle for the Bowling Green Falcons this year on the basketball court. They are just 7-11 on the year and have won just one game in Mid-American Conference play thus far in five tries.
However, that lone win came just 14 days ago in Muncie, Indiana when the Falcons beat the Ball State Cardinals, 76-71. The Falcons hope they can repeat that magic as they host the Cardinals on Saturday at the Stroh Center for a 2:30 p.m. tip-off.
Antwon Lillard, Zack Denny, and Demajeo Wiggins all scored in double figures in that first match-up between the two teams, but it was the defensive effort that carried the Falcons past the Cardinals. The Cardinals went just 4 for 25 (16%) from the 3-point line, and the Falcons forced the Cardinals into 18 turnovers in that game.
Since that game, the two teams have gone in polar opposite directions. Ball State has won three in a row, beating the likes of Buffalo, Central Michigan and Miami. The Cardinals are 3-2 in the MAC (12-6 overall) and just a game behind first-place Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois in the West Division.
Meanwhile, The Falcons have dropped three games in row against Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois and arch rival Toledo. The Falcons started the season with so much optimism that they might be able to carry over the momentum they had going during the MAC Tournament last year. They won two games and made an appearance in Cleveland for the first time in many season. But that momentum has been so elusive for a team that has had so many ups and downs so far this year.
Sophomore Wiggins at 6’ 10” has shown flashes of brilliance this year, but at other times has looked very mediocre. His classmate Lillard has been in the same boat, looking at times like he’s ready to break out only to have games where coaches are scratching their heads. Probably one of the steadiest players on the Falcons roster has been true freshman Dylan Frye. But at 6’ 2” and 170 pounds, Frye is still learning to play at the college level and isn’t the player yet to put a team on his back. It will be interesting to see if head coach Michael Huger can once again get the Falcons straightened out and playing their best basketball in late-February and head into the MAC tournament ready to do some damage again.
Ball State is highest scoring team in MAC play at 87.2 per game. They have averaged 91.7 during their current three-game winning streak. Senior forward Franko House leads the Cardinals in scoring at 16.3 per game. House had 16 points and 10 rebounds in the last match-up with Bowling Green. It would probably do the Cardinals good to try and get House more opportunities on Saturday.
So do the Falcons have Ball State’s number this year? Can the Falcons right the ship and still become a factor in the MAC East race? Can the Cardinals stretch their winning streak to four games? Can the Cardinals make a real run at the MAC West title?
When: Saturday, January 21, 2:30 p.m.
Listen: WFRO (Eagle 99) Fremont, Ohio
Line: Ball State -1