At one point, it looked like Eastern Michigan wasn't going to get back into it. The Falcons never lost the lead, led by 13 at halftime, eventually up by 20 points but Raven Lee helped get EMU back into things in the second half, but missed shots in crunch time would be how the Falcons stayed on top to close things out 84-79.
Bowling Green outplayed Eastern Michigan early on. In the first five minutes of the game, Bowling Green took a 12-6 lead with 3-point makes by Zack Denny and Wes Alcegaire while the Eagles were shooting 2-for-9 from the field. Raven Lee got off to an instant cold start, missing his first three shots before being substituted by Willie Mangum.
Spencer Parker, who leads the Falcons in scoring (13.7 ppg, finished with 21), got off to a quick start for the Falcons' inside game picking up a quick seven points (and a 3-pointer).
This quickly became a showing of one team making their shots vs. a team that did not. Both teams came in shooting 45 percent from the field on the year, but the Falcons seemed to be more prepared in creating scores. Creating offense in transition has been a thing that EMU used to their advantage this season, but BGSU was the one winning the turnover battle, getting points in transition, getting to a double-digit lead early on.
Lee finally got his first points of the game approaching the 7-minute mark, followed that up with a fastbreak 3-pointer on the next possession to try to carve into the Falcons lead (36-22). A quick seven points for him couldn't do enough though. The Eagles eventually found themselves trailing 42-24, shooting 33 percent from the floor while the Falcons got up to a 64 percent clip.
In the closing moments of the first half, BGSU was dominating in points int he paint. Yes, they had 22 of them (EMU 12) but there's also this:
Worrell's dunk just took the rim out of place for a second. That was pretty neat.— Hustle Belt (@HustleBelt) January 16, 2016
Bowling Green was the first to 50, eventually finding themselves with a very comfortable 20-point lead (57-37) approaching the 16-minute mark. "We didn't do a great job executing on offense" EMU head coach Rob Murphy said after the game. "We knew they were really good defensively and knew that they'd get out in transition if you took bad shots.
"We just didn't play good defense."
But EMU kept pecking away. They'd have a few players hit three fouls a piece, but they'd continue to get to the foul line, make free throws before going into a full-court press to intercept a pass with Tim Bond following through on the turnover with a three-pointer to make it a 10-point game.
Then Lee did Lee things. He'd make three 3-pointers, go coast-to-coast with a layup and next thing you know, EMU found themselves in a one-possession game with under six minutes to go.
Putting up seven points in the first half, Lee would continue to take over the game, driving to the rim, drawing fouls, hitting free throws, next thing you know he's got a finger roll to put him up to 25, tying things up at 75 a piece with under three minutes to go.
Down by three with under a minute left, Lee misses a much-needed 3-pointer which would've tied things up again at 80 a piece. Zack Denny was fouled on their next possession, making only one from the charity stripe for a two-possession game. Lee drives, a [bad] foul call on Spencer Parker (his second) puts Lee at the line as he makes them both to make it a 81-79 ball game with 22 seconds remaining.
"As many points as he had, he had two or three looks to either tie or take the lead, but he didn't make the key shots."
The Falcons took over after a timeout, beating the full-court press after being trapped for about eight seconds, David Joseph caught a pass across midcourt, fouled by Bond to set up a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left. Made them both.
Murphy went against calling a timeout, having a three-point shot for Lee to take as they could take over on offense for a quick shot. Had a timeout been called, the Falcons would've been able to set up their defense, which is something he didn't want to happen. "You're not going to get a better look than that. A player of that caliber, you've got to knock that down... that's the easiest 3-point shot in basketball: at the top of the key.
Lee takes the inbound pass to the other end, missing another much-needed shot for EMU to make it a tie game at 82 a piece, possibly looking at overtime. But Parker would grab the rebound, quickly fouled and made both of his free throws to give Bowling Green a 5-point advantage with 2.7 seconds left on the clock.
"You can score throughout the game all you want, but when it's crunch time and you have to make the three... those are the most important. He had some shots to get us back in it, but when you're down 15, it's easier because you're just shooting it."
|Points||Lee (29)||Parker (21)|
|Rebounds||Thompson (14)||Two with 7|
|Assists||Toney (2)||Joseph (7)|
|Blocks||Four with 1||none|
|Steals||Lee (4)||Two with 3|