What if I told you that the Ohio Bobcats would start a road game on a 9-0 run and finish with 82 points, fueled by 29 from Antonio Campbell and 24 from Jaaron Simmons?
You would (probably) say that those Bobcats must have won their game comfortably, right? Not so fast, my MACsketball-loving friends.
Ohio did all of the above in their attempt to win a sixth straight game and hand the Bowling Green Falcons an eighth straight loss. Well, they did all of the above except win comfortably. In fact, they lost to Bowling Green for the second time this season, 87-82.
For the Bobcats, this game was all too similar to their loss to the Falcons last month in Athens. They started the game hot, built a double-digit lead, let that lead dwindle to almost nothing by halftime, then watched as BGSU's offense exploded for more than 50 second half points amid a plethora of fouls and free throws.
The story of the first half was Campbell. He scored the game's first four points to help Ohio jump out to a 9-0 lead, and he did not stop until he had 19 points at halftime. He hit everything from lay-ups to mid-range jumpers to threes and sank eight of his nine shots.
Treg Setty acted as Campbell's complement and scored nine points on 4-for-6 shooting. Their combined 28 points were important, because Ohio received scant contributions from the rest of the team during the first 20 minutes. Kenny Kaminski sank a triple on his first field goal attempt of the game and Simmons drilled one just after the first media timeout, but neither scored for the remainder of the half.
After the Bobcats took their 9-0 lead, BGSU made small surges throughout the first half to get within five points, but Campbell or Setty would make shots to rebuff the rally each time. Campbell's last bucket of the half, a three, gave Ohio a 36-28 lead with 3:24 left in the half.
BGSU's Wes Alcegaire responded with a three of his own less than a minute later, then blocked a Setty shot and ran back down the court for another trey. The Falcons ended the half when Antwon Lillard pulled down an offensive rebound off a David Joseph miss and followed with a layup just before the buzzer. The teams went to the locker room with Ohio holding a slim 37-36 lead.
The second half was the Spencer Parker show. Parker was one of several BGSU players to be benched for the start of the game because of academic issues. He played only eight minutes in the first half and did not score, but after halftime, he played all 20 minutes and scored an equal number of points.
After a pair of Setty buckets lifted Ohio's lead to 45-38, Parker scored BGSU's next seven points to keep them in the game despite more heroics from Campbell. That paved the way for Rasheed Worrell, who had also been benched to start the game but had a big second half. Two monster dunks and a layup from Worrell brought the Falcons back to within one.
Then, just two minutes later, Worrell threw down another thunderous jam to put Bowling Green up 57-56 with 9:40 remaining in the game. It was BGSU's first lead of the game.
The Falcons held a 59-58 lead with 8:00 to go, and as we discussed in the preview for this game, BGSU has had several collapses in the final eight minutes of games during their losing streak. Would it happen to them again? No.
Parker scored Bowling Green's next nine points, including four straight makes at the free throw line and a three. However, the Bobcats stayed shot-for-shot, and when BGSU went scoreless four times in a five-possession stretch, Ohio took a 69-68 lead into the final media timeout with 3:12 left.
In the final few minutes, BGSU could not miss from anywhere. They sank their final four field goal attempts and made eight consecutive free throws. Simmons continued to score for Ohio and ultimately finished the half with 21 points, but it was not enough to keep up. The Falcons ended the second half with 51 points and a much-needed win.
Bowling Green shot .525 from the floor and .773 from the free throw line, but they were deadly in the second half. They made 17 of 28 shots from the floor after halftime and 15 of 18 free throws. The latter is an enormous departure from the Falcons' season trend at the charity stripe.
Ohio was even better from the floor, as they shot at a .533 clip. The Bobcats also made 12 three-pointers. However, they attempted just eight free throws as the Falcons were whistled for a meager 11 fouls. Ohio was never in the bonus at any point during the contest.
BGSU out-rebounded Ohio 35-25 and committed only seven turnovers. They had a 46-30 edge in the paint, and their bench out-scored the Bobcats 59-3.
Alcegaire and Parker led the Falcons with 20 points apiece, while Lillard scored 15 and Worrell had 14. Ohio was paced by Campbell's 29 points and Simmons' 24. Setty finished with 16. Campbell also led all players with eight rebounds.
Ohio (18-9, 9-6 MAC) could have tied for the best record in the league with Akron's loss to Miami, but they'll now have to try to rebound against Buffalo at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday. Meanwhile, BGSU (14-14, 5-10 MAC) will get another chance to take down a MAC power when they travel to Akron for a 7:00 p.m. game on Friday. That one will be televised on CBS Sports Network.