There is an old adage in sports that if a team keeps hanging around long enough, they start believing they can win. Confidence can be contagious and that's exactly what seems to have happened to the Bowling Green Falcons this season.
On Tuesday night at the Stroh Center, in a game in which they never trailed, the Falcons dominated the defending Mid-American Conference champion Western Michigan Broncos, in a 65-49 beat down. This marked the fourth consecutive time Bowling Green has beaten the Broncos dating back to 2012. The Falcons are now 10-2 at on their home court this season.
With the victory, Bowling Green remains in a first place tie in the MAC east division with the Akron Zips. The Falcons are now 8-3 in the MAC and 16-6 overall. The Broncos fall to 5-6 and 14-10 on the year.
What has made this season so remarkable for the Falcons is how fast first-year head coach Chris Jans has been able to change the culture in the program. Last year, the Falcons won 12 games all season and have not had a winning season since 2008-2009.
Against Western Michigan, the Falcons seemed to have everything working: stellar defense, easy transition baskets, deadly 3-point shooting, and strong scoring off the bench. The Broncos never seemed to present much of a threat for the majority of the game.
The Falcons broke open a close game in the first half when they went on a 10-0 run that gave them a 27-16 lead with just 2:58 to play in the half. Bowling Green would go on to take a 34-22 lead into the locker room at halftime, but it could have been more. Richuan Holmes made a driving layup at the buzzer, but after looking at a replay the officials determined it had come after the horn sounded.
The notable thing from the first 20 minutes of play was how much the Bowling Green defense was bothering the Broncos. Western Michigan came into the game averaging 72.3 points per game, good for fourth best in the MAC. But the Broncos didn't get any good looks from the outside and when they drove the ball to the basket, they kept finding Holmes in their way. Holmes had four blocks on the night and altered countless others.
The second half was more of the same for the Broncos as they had trouble putting the ball in the basket. Meanwhile, Bowling Green started to heat up from the outside as back-to-back 3-pointers from Anthony Henderson stretched the BG lead to 41-26 with 16:52 left.
Then, back-to-back 3-pointers again for the Falcons, this time courtesy of Spencer Parker, would give the Falcons a 23-point lead at 62-39 with 4:42 to play. At that point, both coaches emptied their benches and suddenly it was mid-February and Bowling Green was in first place.
Parker led all scorers for the Falcons with 19 points off the bench, his season high. Henderson finished with 15 points while Holmes chipped in with 12. Holmes led the team with six rebounds as the Falcons held a slight edge on the boards in the game, 36-33. As a team, Bowling Green shot 44 percent from both 3-point (10-23) and the field (25-57) for the game.
Standout true freshman guard Thomas Wilder led the Broncos in scoring with 16 points, despite missing a large part of the first half with foul trouble. The Broncos season scoring leader, David Brown managed just nine points on the night as the Falcon defense forced him into 3 of 12 shooting for the game, including just 1 of 8 from behind the arc. As a team, Western Michigan was just 4 of 20 (20%) from 3-point land for the game. The Broncos were also forced into committing 17 turnovers for the game.
The Falcons will travel to Muncie, Indiana on Saturday to take on the Ball State Cardinals. The Broncos will return home to face the Northern Illinois Huskies the same day.
|Player||Western Michigan ||Bowling Green
|Points||T. Wilder (16)||S. Parker (19)|
|Rebounds||T. Haymond (6)||R. Holmes (6)|
|Assists||D. Brown (3)||D. Joseph (5)|
|Blocks||D. LaMont (2)||R. Holmes (4)|
|Steals||T. Wilder (3)||A. Henderson (4)|