The BG men's basketball team suffered a 68-66 home loss to Buffalo Saturday in a disappointing effort by the Falcons, especially in the second half. What made the loss more painful was that it came off the heels of an important road victory at Miami. It brings the Falcons to 2-3 in the Mid-American Conference after completing BG's first run through the East Division. Let's take a closer look ...
BiG TWITTER POST: Buffalo makes 8-of-10 3-pointers, outrebound BG 20-13 2nd half to come back for 68-66 win as Falcons miss chances to win in final minute
BiG GAME STORY: Buffalo scored the game's first six points, but BG responded with a 9-2 run to lead 9-8 with 12:30 left in the first half. From there the lead see-sawed back and forth as there were five ties in the first half before the Falcons took a 27-26 lead at halftime. Early in the second half Bowling Green used a 7-2 run to lead 40-33 with 14:54 to play, but by the 9:31 mark the Bulls had retied the game at 46-46. There were three more ties, the last coming with 1:47 to play, but A'uston Calhoun made two free throws at that point to give the Falcons a 64-63 lead. Buffalo's Javon McCrea scored on a dunk with 1:32 left, and after a BG miss the Bulls' Dave Barnett hit a 3-pointer with 57 seconds to play. Calhoun scored with 46 seconds left, and after a steal by Scott Thomas the Falcons missed another shot in the lane with seven seconds left. Buffalo missed a free throw, but Jordon Crawford dribbled coast-to-coast only to have his potential game-tying layup blocked by Mitchell Watt as the final horn sounded.
BiG OVERVIEW: The Falcons were led by A'uston Calhoun, who finished with a career-high 29 points as well as eight rebounds. Dee Brown had 13 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Scott Thomas posted 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and four steals. Jordon Crawford led the Falcons with six assists.
BiG PLAY: The game's final play saw Jordon Crawford try to make a play on a end-to-end rush ... but Crawford was just trying to make a play in the final moments. Personally, I thought the play that doomed the Falcons was the possession before, when BG had the ball while trailing 68-66 and 23 seconds left. The Falcons ran a play where Cameron Black ended up taking a shot in the lane that did not fall, and Buffalo grabbed the rebound with five seconds left. "The play was for me to set a screen for Cam so he could set a screen for Jordon," A'uston Calhoun said. "We knew that, if I would duck in, Cam's guy would sink in to help on me -- so I told Jordon before the play to look for Cam. Cam was open, but Jordon got him the ball before he could roll all the way to the basket, so it ended up with Cam taking a jump shot. Cam can make that jump shot, but you'd prefer that shot to be at the basket."
BiG PLAYER OF THE GAME: The loss in the last seconds tarnished a career day for junior F A'uston Calhoun. He finished with a career-best 29 points while added a team-high eight rebounds to go with two assists and a steal. Calhoun made 12-of-17 shots from the field, missing his only 3-point attempt, and was 5-for-5 on free throws. Calhoun had 10 points and four rebounds in the first half, and had 19 points and four more boards in the second half.
BiG NUMBERS: In the first half Bowling Green did a fine job guarding the 3-point arc against the Bulls, who entered the game ranked among the top 3-point shooting teams in the MAC. The Falcons forced Buffalo to miss all but one of their 11 3-point attempts in the first half for 9.1 percent shooting. But in the second half the Bulls made their first five 3-point attempts and were 8-for-10 on 3's overall for the half (80 percent), a key factor in their victory. Five different Bulls made a 3-pointer in the second half -- ironically, the only Buffalo player who didn't make a 3-pointer was Zach Filzen, who leads the MAC in that category with 2.9 3's per game.
BiG NOTE: Buffalo entered the contest leading the MAC in rebounding, outrebounding opponents by plus-8.3 boards per game entering the contest. So it would seem to be a "victory" that the Bulls outrebounded BG by only one, 36-35, in the game. But Buffalo's second-half rebounding was a key to UB's victory; the Falcons outrebounded the Bulls 22-16 in the first half, only to see Buffalo outrebound BG 20-13 in the second half, thanks in part to seven offensive boards.
BiG QUESTION: Can the Falcons find a way to win one of these close games? Yes, Bowling Green made a play at the buzzer to beat Temple in the team's signature win this season. But in the team's last two home games, the Falcons have seen the opposition made big plays in the final moments to claim wins in the Stroh Center. Winning at home is a must for a team to compete for a MAC title. Winning the close games is, too.
MORE QUOTES: “At the start of the second half, we should try to execute everything well on both offense and defense,” A'uston Calhoun said. “We shouldn’t take anything for granted when we have a lead at the end of the half, but we were relaxed. But we came out a little lackadaisical, and that’s a weakness of ours. Then the other team jumps on us and attacks us — and then we wake up. But by then it’s too late. It only takes one play to lose a game. And you can lose the game on the first play.”
"I do believe that the more success you have at the end of close games, the more that helps your confidence,” BG coach Louis Orr said. “It’s a thin line, and you have to make split-second decisions. But you have to keep grinding. You can’t hang your head. There’s a whole lot of basketball to play.”