There were good times for the Bowling Green Falcons. There were even better times for the Akron Zips, and after 40 minutes, the familiar reigned supreme. Akron defeated BGSU 83-68 on Tuesday night at the Stroh Center for their 14th straight win over the Falcons. Dating back to 2005, it was their 22nd win in the last 23 games of the series.
The contest started inauspiciously for Akron. The Zips had trouble finding their shot early and missed their first seven attempts from beyond the arc. Meanwhile the Falcons' Spencer Parker was on fire. Parker drained a pair of three-pointers early and scored ten of BGSU's first 14 points. After eight minutes, the Falcons had built a surprising 20-9 lead.
From that point forward, Akron put on a show, as threes rained down from everywhere. Noah Robotham ended the Zips' futility and pulled them within 20-14 with 11:10 left in the first half. Beginning with that attempt, Akron made 16 of their final 25 shots (64 percent) from downtown. Ten of those fell in the second half.
As Akron found their stride, the Falcons lost theirs. BGSU was outscored 32-7 during an 11-minute blitzkrieg after getting that 11-point lead. During that run, Bowling Green was just 3-for-17 from the field while Antino Jackson made five triples by himself for the Zips.
To head coach Michael Huger's credit, Bowling Green did not fold. Parker closed the half with five straight points, including another three, to cut BGSU's deficit to 41-32.
The Falcons continued to fight early in the second half. Despite threes from Jackson and Reggie McAdams, Bowling Green was able to tie the game at 47-47 on back-to-back jumpers from Zack Denny and Rasheed Worrell. Those capped a 20-6 run that brought the Stroh Center crowd back to life.
The fun would not last for the crowd, however. McAdams sank two more treys, and Isaiah Johnson poured in five straight points. Those scores keyed a 12-3 run for the Zips, which gave them a 59-50 lead with 10:47 left.
Once again, Bowling Green responded. After a bucket by Antwon Lillard, the Falcons forced an offensive foul by Johnson. On the play, Johnson fell awkwardly and appeared to injure his right leg. He left the floor unable to put any weight on the leg and did not return to the game.
The Falcons then took advantage of a rare miss by Jackson with a three by the sly Matt Fox. Lillard pick-pocketed Robotham and fed Parker for a dunk that pulled BGSU within 59-57. On the next possession, Lillard earned another steal and was fouled. With 7:51 to play, he had an opportunity to tie the game at the free throw line.
Unfortunately, BGSU futility from the free throw line continued, as Lillard missed both shots. Akron proceeded to go on an 11-0 run over the following three minutes, and that essentially ended the game.
Akron clearly won this game with their touch from long range. They sank 16 of 32 threes overall and 16 of 25 after their poor start. In the second half, they were 10-for-18. Overall from the field, the Zips made 28 of 57 shots to clock in at just under 50 percent.
Bowling Green also shot the ball very well. The Falcons were 15-for-26 in the second half, and outside of the Akron run before halftime, BGSU was 23-for-37 overall. The big difference was from behind the arc. BGSU made only five threes all night, and just one in the final 20 minutes. They also sent home just 11 of their 19 free throws.
The Zips also outrebounded the Falcons 34-28, but there was one area that was particularly pleasing to Huger despite the loss. In the postgame press conference, he noted that Bowling Green passed the ball very well and generated 17 assists, which was a very positive departure from recent games. In fact, BGSU had ten assists to just three turnovers in the second half.
Individually, four Akron players scored in double figures. Jackson's six treys led to 20 points, while McAdams made five for a game total of 15 points. Johnson added 15 from the bench before leaving with his injury, while Pat Forsythe scored ten. Robotham missed double figures by one with nine points, and he added seven assists and four rebounds.
Parker led all players with 23 points for BGSU. He shot 6-for-12 from the floor and made eight of his 11 free throw attempts. Rasheed Worrell posted 15 on 7-for-11 shooting after going scoreless in his last game at Miami. Denny added seven points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Akron has now won seven in a row and extends the best record in the MAC to 9-2. The Zips are 20-4 overall and travel to DeKalb, Ill. for a battle with Northern Illinois on Saturday. They return home to host Buffalo in a huge Eastern Division matchup next Tuesday.
Bowling Green drops to 13-11 overall and 4-7 in the MAC. They have lost four in a row and six of their last seven since a 3-1 conference start. The Falcons host Western Michigan on Saturday with a chance for a sweep of the Broncos, then follow that with four out of five on the road.