College basketball is funny. A little over a week ago, the Bowling Green Falcons were run out of the gym in Akron, in the midst of losing four of their last five games to end the regular season. Tomorrow night, they’ll be playing for a trip to the NCAA Basketball Tournament, something they have been to since 1968.
But they almost didn’t get the chance to go dancing tomorrow night. The #3 seeded Falcons defeated the #7 seeded Northern Illinois Huskies, 71-67 in a MAC Men’s Tournament semifinal game at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Friday evening.
But it was almost Saturday morning before the game was decided. The game ended at almost 11:30 p.m. EST. The Falcons will be back at it in about 18 hours to take on the #1 seeded Buffalo Bulls in the MAC Championship Game on Saturday evening.
The Falcons had an offensive outburst in the first half and held a 23-point lead at halftime, 46-23. The Falcons shot 60% in the first half as all nine players that saw action, scored. Dylan Frye had 16 points in the first half to lead the Falcons.
The second half was a different story for Bowling Green and Northern Illinois. The Huskies began chipping away at the lead while the Falcons continued to miss shots and turn the ball over. Northern Illinois came all the way back an tied the game twice but could not take the lead. Frye hit a big three pointer with 2:20 to play that put the Falcons back up, 62-58. Then, he and Justin Turner hit their free throws down the stretch to keep the Huskies at bay.
Frye finished with a team high 25 points on 7 of 14 from the field, including four of eight from 3-point. Turner had 14 points and Daeqwon Plowden had 12. The Falcons finished the game shooting 43% from the field, including 8 of 19 from 3-point.
Eugene German had a game high 31 points for Northern Illinois, with 20 of those coming in the second half. Levi Bradley was the only other Huskie scoring in double figures with 16.
The Falcons improve to 22-11 on the year, while Northern Illinois finishes the year at 17-18.