The Bowling Green Falcons hosted the Cincinnati Bearcats on Wednesday night (Nov. 21) in the second annual Bill Frack Challenge at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio. For one half, the crowd of 3,411 saw the Falcons play shot-for-shot with a Cincinnati team that had won its previous game by 62 points. Unfortunately for BGSU, basketball games are 40 minutes instead of 20, and the Bearcats turned a four-point halftime lead into an 83-50 rout.
In the first half, BGSU fell behind 16-8 after taking a brief early lead. The Falcons recovered to briefly tie the game at 22, then climbed back within 32-31 on a Zack Denny three with 30 seconds remaining in the half. Despite a Justin Jenifer triple just before the buzzer, BGSU trailed just 35-31 at halftime, and their numbers compared very well with the Bearcats. Rebounds were even at 21, and the Falcons had more assists and fewer turnovers. Had it not been for a 4-for-10 performance at the free throw line, Bowling Green may have taken a lead to the locker room.
The second half was like an entirely different game. The Falcons scored only a pair of free throws over the first 5:58, while Cincinnati put up 18 points. When Antwon Lillard finally put in a layup for BGSU's first basket of the half, the deficit was 18 points, and the game was effectively over. UC's run eventually reached 29-4 to push their lead to 26 points. Bowling Green made a brief push to get within 19 points, but a layup and free throw by Demajeo Wiggins were the Falcons' final points of the game, as Cincinnati scored the game's final 14 points over the last 7:24.
Farad Cobb led all scorers with 20 points, including six three-pointers. Denny led BGSU with 13 points but did not make a bucket during the second half. Coreontae DeBerry led all rebounders with 12, as Cincinnati out-rebounded BGSU 49-38 overall. Click HERE for the game's box score.
Bowling Green can play. The Falcons have a variety of scoring options from Denny and Lillard to Wes Alcegaire and Spencer Parker. They have defenders who can create turnovers, as we saw tonight when BGSU forced nine Cincinnati turnovers in the first half. They have the ability to rebound and can do an effective job of distributing the ball. When Huger's plan is executed well, his team has shown that is capable of hanging with an extremely talented and athletic team. However...
Bowling Green has a long way to go. In the postgame press conference, BGSU head coach Michael Huger emphasized that the coaching staff was still trying to evaluate what their players can do well on a consistent basis, and lack of consistency has been the biggest issue over the first two games. Against UC, the Falcons were like night and day between the two halves. They were good from behind the arc in the first half, but terrible in the second. They were just the opposite from the free throw line. Denny made four shots in the first half, none in the second. Meanwhile, Alcegaire and Rasheed Worrell, who played very well in the opening win against New Orleans, combined to go scoreless (0/12 FG, 0/3 FT).
If BGSU is to have any type of real success this season, this type of inconsistency will need to drastically improve.
Cincinnati and Farad Cobb are the real deal. The Bearcats thrashed their first two opponents, and after being challenged for a half, they were merciless in the second half against BGSU. They completely took the Falcons out of their game, creating turnovers and dominating on the boards, which made it nearly impossible for BGSU to run its offense. As for Cobb, six of his seven field goals were from behind the arc; he's a big reason that offense can be so explosive.
It can be hard to get a good read on a team after just three games, but I'd be shocked if UC isn't in the big dance when March rolls around.
The Falcons (1-1) travel to Fort Myers, Fla. this weekend for the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Classic, where they will play three games in three days. On Saturday, Nov. 21, BGSU will face the newly-named North Dakota Fighting Hawks. UND is 1-1 this season following a win over Minnesota-Morris and a 14-point loss at Wisconsin. The Falcons will play the Youngstown State Penguins on Sunday, Nov. 22. YSU is 0-2 after facing two MAC teams, with a 79-70 loss to Kent State and a 100-78 loss to Toledo.
Finally, the Falcons go up against Dunk City and the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles on Monday, Nov. 23. FGCU is currently 1-1 after an 85-75 loss at Ohio and a 85-62 win over Texas Wesleyan. BGSU's next home game will be on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 2:00 p.m. against Urbana.