When you've won just one game in the first half of your conference schedule, you'll take more wins any way you can get them. This is true even when you make more free throws than field goals and shoot just 28 percent from the floor in the second half after trailing at halftime.
Both of those things were true for the Miami RedHawks today, yet they found a way to double their season win total in the MAC with a 55-51 takedown of the Bowling Green Falcons this afternoon in Oxford, Ohio.
It was not a pretty game from the start as neither team could ever find a consistent shooting rhythm. Through the first four minutes, the teams combined to make just one of the first 13 shots, including an 0-for-8 performance by the RedHawks. A lonely tip-in by Spencer Parker off a Wes Alcegaire miss gave BGSU a 3-2 lead at the first media timeout.
The advantage bounced back-and-forth as the teams exchanged one-possession leads through much of the first half. A bucket by Rod Mills evened the score at 16-16 for Miami with 7:00 left in the half, but Parker followed with a triple for the Falcons on the next possession.
That trey sparked BGSU's best stretch of the game. They went on a 9-2 run over the next four minutes to build a 25-18 lead, as their defense forced Miami to shoot just 1-for-4 with four turnovers. However, the RedHawks responded with a 6-0 mini-run of their own, which closed the gap to 25-24 at halftime.
Bowling Green began the second half by quickly scoring the first five points and reclaiming a six-point edge. However, they could not continue to generate the offense necessary to keep the lead, and their foul trouble provided an escape route for the RedHawks.
Mills finally scored Miami's first points of the half with 3:24 elapsed. That field goal sparked an 11-0 run during which BGSU missed all five shots and turned the ball over three times. Miami emerged with a 35-30 lead, and they would not trail for the remainder of the game.
The Falcons did get within one possession at several points and as close as 41-40 with seven minutes left, but the RedHawks scored ten of their final 14 points at the free throw line to preserve the lead and the victory.
As noted above, Miami shot just 28 percent from the floor in the second half and only 30.9 percent for the game. They made 17 field goals as compared to 19 free throws, and 16 of those made free throws occurred after halftime.
BGSU shot slightly better, but not by much. They made 20 of 57 attempts (35.1 percent), but the big discrepancy was at the charity stripe. While the RedHawks had 19 makes among 29 attempts, the Falcons attempted just 12 free throws for the entire game and made only seven.
Miami's hustle and physical play also showed up in the rebounds, where they owned a 46-36 edge and pulled down 15 on offense. Seven of those boards were of the dead-ball variety, as the RedHawks consistently won those battles throughout the game.
Willie Moore led all players with 13 points in 18 bench minutes for Miami. He also contributed eight rebounds. Chris Bryant came within one point of a double-double as he scored nine and pulled down ten rebounds.
Perhaps the brightest point of the game for Bowling Green was their containment of Geovonie McKnight and Eric Washington. In BGSU's 73-62 win over Miami on Jan. 6, the Falcons allowed those two to combine for 36 points and 17 rebounds. Today, McKnight had just seven points (3/12 FG) and five rebounds, while Washington contributed eight (2/14 FG) and four.
For the Falcons on offense, Demajeo Wiggins continued to do solid work off the bench with 12 points and nine rebounds. However, his performance could have been better; he was limited to just five minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls. Spencer Parker (11) and Antwon Lillard (10) also scored in double figures for BGSU.
Zack Denny was once again Bowling Green's best rebounder. His ten combined with eight points. Unfortunately for BGSU, those players were not aided by Rasheed Worrell or David Joseph. Worrell did not score and played only six minutes after halftime, while Joseph had just two points despite attempting ten shots.
Miami's victory improves their record to 8-15 overall and 2-8 in the MAC, while Bowling Green falls to 13-10 overall and 4-6 in the MAC. The RedHawks have another shot at a win when they visit Western Michigan on Tuesday, while the Falcons host Akron, who has won six in a row.