Before the beginning of this season, the Bowling Green Falcons were labeled by many as the team in the Mid-American Conference with the lowest bar of expectation. They were picked to finish last in the MAC's Eastern Division by the media despite last year's 20-win season.
Perhaps it's time to look at the Falcons with a less-jaundiced eye. Today at the Stroh Center, the Falcons defeated the Drake Bulldogs, 75-63. It was their sixth win of the season and fifth in a row. The winning streak is the longest for the team since Louis Orr's 2008-09 team won six in a row. In that streak, the Falcons have beaten the Bulldogs as well as Youngstown State on a neutral court and Florida Gulf Coast in a true road game.
The game was very close throughout an exciting first half that featured 13 lead changes and four ties. The largest lead by either team in the half was BGSU's eight point edge late in the half.
C.J. Rivers got the scoring started for Drake with a jumper just six seconds in, then Zack Denny got his day started right a minute later with a jumper of his own. The Falcons took their first lead of the game, albeit a brief one, at the 4:29 mark of the half on a triple from David Joseph. The lead ping-ponged back and forth nine times over the following four minutes before Drake went on a 7-0 run. That gave them a 24-18 edge with 8:25 left in the first half; it was their largest lead of the game.
The Falcons bounced back with a 20-6 run of their own that led to a 38-30 lead with 2:10 on the clock after a triple by Wes Alcegaire. However, Drake used another three by Rivers and a trio of free throws to close the gap to 40-36 at halftime.
The Falcons shot a fantastic 60.9 percent in the first half and made seven of 11 three-pointers.
Drake's season-leading scorers, Kale Abrahamson and Reed Timmer, opened the second half with five points to put the Bulldogs back up, 41-40. That would be their final lead of the game. Rasheed Worrell sank a pair of free throws, and Joseph finally put in BGSU's first bucket 3:58 into the second half with a three. That started a 9-0 run which put Bowling Green ahead 49-41.
The Bulldogs did not go away and found themselves within two points (52-50) when Graham Woodward drilled a three with 11:09 remaining in the game. However, the Falcons went on an 11-1 run to seal the game. That run put them ahead 63-51, and Drake would not get within nine points in the final six minutes.
BGSU shot 49.1 percent from the floor and made 11 of 17 from beyond the arc. They also held Drake well below their season average by forcing them to shoot just 41.5 percent. They also continued their strong rebounding, as the Falcons held a 37-29 edge on the boards.
Denny scored a career-high 23 points on 9/13 shooting (4/5 from long range). He was also second among all players with seven rebounds. Wes Alcegaire quietly put up 17 points of his own and made four triples, while David Joseph added 10. Spencer Parker led both squads with nine rebounds and five assists.
BGSU (6-2) will now play four road non-conference games to close out the 2015 calendar year. They'll play at Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday at 8:00 p.m., then play at Detroit at 1:00 p.m. next Saturday. The Falcons then fly to Wright State on December 20 and Cleveland State on December 23. Their next home game is January 2, 2016 against Oakland City.