BOWLING GREEN, OH - Somehow Bowling Green pulled if off. Whether it was with smoke and mirrors or an old carnival sleight of hand trick, the Falcons survived a hectic final couple of minutes to slip past Kent State, 67-66 at Anderson Arena Thursday night.
Jordan Mincy is guarded by BG's Joe Jakubowski / Photo: Nate Thompson
BGs victory combined with Akrons 62-57 win over Buffalo moves the Flacons into a first-place in the Mid-American Conference East at 9-4, along with Buffalo and Akron. The tie will contain at least one less team after Sunday as Bowling Green plays at Akron with tipoff at noon.
This is what weve been working for since we got beat by Toledo last year in the MAC tournament, BG senior Nate Miller. Our goal was to give ourselves a chance to win the MAC championship in the 08-09 season and were right there. Its not going to be given to us. Were going to have to go out and continue to work hard, play as a team ... Were going to keep grinding.
Bowling Green fought through a scoreless abyss of 5:26 in the second half after taking a 51-46 lead with 12:56 remaining in the game.
The Falcons would regain the lead, 59-58, on a Darryl Clements pull-up jumper with 4:21 remaining.
The game would remain close the rest of the way with Kent State taking its final lead, 65-64 on a Chris Singletary hoop inside with 1:32 left.
The Falcons countered with an Otis Polk layup off an assist from Joe Jakubowski with 45.4 seconds left. The Golden Flashes then lost control of the ball on their next possession and Polk got on the floor for the loose ball and BG was granted a timeout and possession with 24.7 seconds left.
BGs Erik Marschall then split a pair of free throws with 23 seconds remaining, putting BG up two, 67-65. After another Kent State turnover, BG fouled Miller with 8.4 seconds left, but he missed both free throws and Singletary got the rebound and was then fouled as he drove into the lane.
Singletary, with 2.3 seconds remaining, made the first free throw, but missed the second and BG knocked the ball out-of-bounds with 1.1 seconds left.
|BG's Nate Miller goes up for two of his team-high 16 points.
Photo: Nate Thompson
The Golden Flashes in-bounded the ball from the sideline and Tyree Evans off-balance jumper from the left baseline was short as the buzzer sounded.
With one of our best shooters getting a 15-footer for the game, well take our chances, KSU head coach Geno Ford said. Had that shot gone by Tyree it would have been a great win, but the better team would have not won. They (BG) were better than us tonight.
BG switched from its zone to a man-to-man defense for the final possessions of the game and Kent State appeared to have a hard time adapting.
I give our guys credit. They wanted to man up, they wanted to guard, BG head coach Louis Orr said.
After two straight losses at home, the Falcons rebounded with a solid effort against the Golden Flashes. BG shot 51.1 percent from the field while holding Kent State to a 44.6 effort from the floor. BG also held a 31-26 rebounding edge and finished with 14 turnovers, but only four in the second half.
I give credit to our guys, they persevered, Orr said. They are resilient. Everybody stepped up at different times and made big plays.
Miller led five Falcons in double figures with 16 points. Brian Moten added 14, Jakubowski contributed 11 points and four assists and Clements and Polk each added 10 points. Miller and Polk shared game-high honors with eight rebounds each.
Miller made a very big play, he won the game, Ford said. He got the two offensive rebounds at crunch time. He hit a big three. He did what you hope your seniors will do for you, step up and make some key plays in a home game late in the year.
NOTES: Kent State is now 16-12 overall and 8-5 in the MAC while having its eight-game winning streak broken ... Polk had one blocked shot in the game to tie the school record of 117 career blocks set by Tom Hall (1989-92) ... All five BG starters played at least 32 minutes ... The two teams combined for five ties and 19 lead changes ... Akron posted a 62-52 win over BG in the first meeting between the two teams this season.