It had been 23 seasons since Bowling green had won on the road at Western Michigan and Ohio in the same season. Wednesday as Ohio senior guard Nick Kellogg's last-ditch three bounced off the rim at the buzzer, the Falcons snapped that streak with a 58-56 win, just three days after coming back from a 20-point deficit to beat the Broncos on Sunday.
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The Falcons entered Athens, Ohio Wednesday night on a hot two-game winning streak, but were facing one of the best teams in the MAC in the Ohio Bobcats. The 'Cats only loss this season came in a two-point loss to Akron in double-overtime, and featured the conferences second-best defense, and one of its better turnover-margins.
But thanks to smothering defense (the Falcons have the best, allowing just 62 a game) and strong performances by some unlikely characters, Bowling Green thrust itself into the race for the MAC East title. The Falcons held Ohio to just 27 percent from behind the arc—down from the 'Cats normal percentage of 33 percent—and forced an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers en route to their 2-point road win.
But it didn't start out that way, as Bowling Green trailed 15-4 six minutes in thanks to Ohio's solid penetration of BG's zone defense. The 'Cats, led by T.J. Hall who had 15 points and four rebonds on the night, had little problem controlling the paint early on. They were penetrating Bowling Green's front line with ease, and defensively had hauled in six boards and two Jon Smith blocks in the first few minutes of the game. Smith, who averages 2.2 blocked shots a game, finished the night with seven rebounds, three blocks, but just two points.
But midway through the game, the Falcons came alive. With the pressure still on, and starting to take effect, Spencer Parker and Jehvon Clarke took over. The duo accounted for 13 points in the final 10 minutes as Bowling Green went on a run, and trailed Ohio 33-30 at halftime. Parker finished the game with16 points and six rebounds, while Parker added 15 and four assists on the night.
he Falcons carried their inside domination into the second half as Richaun Holmes turned it on. Bowling Green's leading scorer, and dominant big man, found little trouble with penetrating Ohio's frontcourt. Together with fellow big Cameron Black, who had seven points and six boards on the night, and Parker's hot hand, the Falcons ability to penetrate proved too much for Ohio.
With no real threat from Smith, and Ohio's guard play being limited by the stingy BG defense, Hall and Ndour were relied upon to do it all for the Bobcats. Ndour found some success, but never was able to put together a long string against the Falcons' bigs, though he did manage to rack up 12 points and eight boards along with a pair of blocks. Hall, a lengthy wing player, was much more successful, notching 15 and four on the night, and being crucial to Ohio's efforts down the stretch that saw the 'Cats refuse to let BG pull away in the end. He scored seven points in the final six minutes, and missed a three at the two-minute mark that would have tied the game at 56-56.
Overall, Ohio won the rebounding battle 33-31, but was crushed on the offensive glass. Nick Kellogg added 10 points, as the only other Bobcat to score in double figures, but turned the ball over four times.
Anthony Henderson, fresh off his breakout game against the Broncos, managed just five points tonight, but also had five rebounds.
With the win the Falcons improve to 3-2 in the MAC (9-9 overall) and seem to have hit their stride at the perfect time. Ohio slips to 3-2 and 13-5 overall, with two of its losses coming in its last four games.
Bowling Green will put its hot streak to the test on Saturday against an equally hot Miami team, and Ohio heads on the road to face Eastern Michigan Saturday at 11 on ESPNU.