With an encouraging non-conference season and a perfect start to conference play after two games, the Bowling Green Falcons were starting to be considered serious contenders for a Mid-American Conference East Division title. On Wednesday night in Akron, they found out just how far they still have to go. The Akron Zips handily beat the Falcons 67-50...and it wasn't nearly that close.
What a difference a week makes for the Falcons. Seven days ago they last ventured into Northeast Ohio and overcame a double-digit deficit to beat Kent State. This week there was no such magic as the Zips used a suffocating defense to ensure that didn't happen again.
The real trouble for the Falcons began in the first half. Bowling Green was outscored 25-2 over an eight-plus minute stretch and the Zips took a 38-22 lead into the locker room at the half. Deji Ibitayo had thirteen first half points as the Zips shot 54 percent from the field as a team. Meanwhile, the Falcons couldn't hit the end of the gym. They shot 9-31 (31%) from the field, including just 1-9 from the three point line in the opening half. Credit the Zips defense for not giving the Falcons very many good looks at the basket.
"Coached reminded us at half time that Bowling Green had made a big second half comeback last week against Kent," said Ibitayo. "We didn't want to let that happen so we focused on winning the first four minutes of the second half, and we did."
The second half wasn't much better for the Falcons. In fact, if it was a UFC match, the Falcons would have tapped out long before the clock ran out. Bowling Green managed to cut the lead back to 16 a few times early in the second half, but the Zips were always there to push the lead back over 20. By the 10 minute mark, both teams were substituting freely and appeared to be just playing the string out.
The Zips shot nearly 55 percent from the field for the game on 24 of 44 shooting. They were also 8 of 25 (32%) from three point land. The Falcons managed only 33 percent from the field on 20 of 61 shooting, while just 4 of 20 (20%) from beyond the arc.
Ibitayo led Akron with 15 points, while Noah Rothman chipped in with 14 and Pat Forsythe added 10 and six rebounds. Anthony Henderson led Bowling Green in scoring with 11, and Richaun Holmes added 10 while playing a large portion of the game in foul trouble.
With the loss, the Falcons fall to 10-4 and 2-1 on the year. The Zips move to 11-5 and are now also 2-1 in MAC play. The Falcons will return home on Saturday to face Ball State while the Zips remain at home to take on Central Michigan the same day.
|Player||Akron ||Bowling Green
|Points||D. Ibitayo (15)||A. Henderson (11)|
|Rebounds||P. Forsythe (6||S. Parker (5)|
|Assists||N. Robotham (4)||J. Austin (2)|
|Blocks||K. Cheatam (2)||Z. Denny (1)|
|Steals||D.Ibitayo (3)||Z. Denny (4)|