The Bowling Green Falcons needed a big weekend in Fort Myers, Fla. at the Hilton Garden Inn FGCU Classic. After a loss on Saturday, it appeared as if they would have the opposite. The Falcons regrouped with a win on Sunday and ended the trip tonight by beating the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 82-77 on FGCU's home court.
Once again, BGSU used balanced scoring and a strong effort on the boards to earn the win. Four players scored in double figures and another came within one point of being the fifth. The Falcons out-rebounded 40-28, including 12-5 on the offensive end, and that allowed two players to register double-doubles.
Another encouraging sign for the Falcons is their ability to get early leads and maintain them. Yesterday, they held the lead for all but the first four minutes against Youngstown State. Tonight, it took them a few minutes longer, but when they gained a 11-9 lead with 12:54 left in the first half, BGSU kept it for the rest of the game. FGCU's biggest lead of the night was one point, and they led for all of 14 seconds.
Bowling Green welcomed themselves to Dunk City with a dunk of their own by Spencer Parker which opened the night's scoring. Filip Cvjeticanin answered with a three fo a 3-2 FGCU lead, their only one of the game. A layup by David Joseph and a trey by Wes Alcegaire on consecutive possessions put the Falcons up 7-3 after the first 2:45.
The Eagles were able to tie the game briefly at 7-7 and again at 9-9 before Ismail Ali buried a pair of free throws to give BGSU a permanent lead. The Falcons' lead increased to as much as seven before FGCU cut it to two with a 5-0 run with six minutes left in the half.
The Bowling Green defense tightened and allowed only two field goals to the Eagles over the final 5:53 of the half, and BGSU went on a 12-4 run in that time. A free throw by Antwon Lillard with 43 seconds left gave the Falcons a 10-point lead, their biggest of the first half, and they took a 35-25 edge to the locker room.
Parker opened the second half with a pair of baskets, and Zack Denny followed with a three which extended the Falcons' lead to a game-high 16 points with 15:21 remaining.
The Eagles began chipping away at the lead after Denny's three and were able to get it to single digits with more than 11 minutes left. Foul trouble by BGSU in the second half allowed the Eagles to get within five points. However, the Falcons made several clutch shots and free throws over the final seven minutes to prevent FGCU from making it a single-possession game, and final minute free throws from Ali and Lillard sealed the 82-77 win.
BGSU shot .492 (29/59) for the game and .577 in the second half. They were only 2-for-13 from beyond the arc in the first half, so they focused heavily on the inside game after halftime. That resulted in only five long-range shots in the second half, of which they made three. It also helped the Falcons get to the line 19 times in the second half. Overall, BGSU was 19-for-27 at the charity stripe.
Individually, Parker led the Falcons with 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Inside the arc, he was 10-for-13. Parker added 10 rebounds for a double-double. Denny continued his impressive play with a second consecutive double-double, as he scored 18 and pulled down 11 rebounds. Ali (13 points) and Lillard (10) contributed well from the bench, and 13 of their combined 24 points were at the free throw line. Wes Alcegaire and Rasheed Worrell added nine and six points.
FGCU also shot very well. They made 63 percent of their shots from the field after halftime and were 14-for-20 from the line, all in the second half. Overall, they were 28-for-58 (.483) from the floor. Zach Johnson had a game-high 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting, while Christian Terrell added 21 points and six rebounds. Marc-Eddy Norelia led the Eagles with seven rebounds.
Bowling Green (3-2) will return home to play three games at the Stroh Center in a span of seven days. They will host Urbana on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 2:00 pm, then face UMBC on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 8:00 pm and finally tangle with Drake on Saturday, Dec. 5 at 4:00 pm. The Falcons then close out the calendar year with four straight road games.