BiG DISCLAIMER: First, I want to apologize for not doing a very good job of providing insight on the men early this season. I have plenty of excuses ... but none of them are particularly good. So, to try and make up for this a little bit, I'm going to add a few comments from the two NIT Season Tip Off games I saw at Michigan's Crisler Center.
BiG LOOK AT CLEVELAND STATE GAME: This was a disappointing performance, because it was a very winnable game. It just seemed as if every good thing the Falcons did was trumped by something bad. A'uston Calhoun had 30 points, but no one else scored more than 10. BG shot 56 percent in the second half, but they shot 18.8 percent on 3's in the game. BG also had 16 turnovers, and even though the Falcons held CSU to 38.6 percent shooting, they allowed the Vikings to grab 17 offensive rebounds. BG led by as many as 11 early but the game was tied by halftime. Late in the game BG had the ball with the score tied, but never managed to get a shot, much less score.
BiG LOOK AT IUPUI GAME: This was an awful performance. The only bright spot was that BG held an early 11-point lead, but by halftime that margin was cut to one point at the break. The wheels came completely off in the second half as IUPUI shot 71.4 percent from the field in that period, outrebounded BG 38-27, and held the Falcons to just 40.9 percent shooting for the game. Jordon Crawford had 24 points and A'uston Calhoun had 19, but there were a lot more questions than answers after this contest.
BiG TWITTER POST: Crawford scores 26, Falcons commit 1 2nd-half turnover, made 12-13 FTs late to claim 70-65 win over Detroit at Stroh Center Tuesday
BiG GAME STORY: The Falcons dominated play early and eventually used a 14-5 run to built a 33-19 lead with four minutes left in the first half. But Detroit switched to a zone in the last five minutes and flustered the Falcons, allowing the Titans to go on an 11-1 run to finish the half and make the score 34-30 BG at the break. A pair of early 3's gave BG a 40-32 lead, but by the 13:55 mark of the second half Detroit had taken a 40-41 lead. The score was tied at 47-47 with 9:48 left before a 3-pointer by Jehvon Clarke gave the Falcons the lead for good as BG withstood a couple of late rushes to hold on to the victory. In the final 4:25 of the contest, with Bowling Green leading by two points, the Falcons made 9-of-10 free throws while forcing Detroit to miss six straight shots before the Titans got a basket with just 16 seconds left in the game.
BiG OVERVIEW: The Falcons were led in scoring by Jordon Crawford, who finished with a career-high 26 points and also had three rebounds, two assists and a steal. The next-highest scorer for BG was A'uston Calhoun, who had nine points and added five rebounds. Jehvon Clarke came off the bench to score seven points (all in the second half) and added a team-best three assists, while Chauncey Orr nearly had a double-double with eight points and seven rebounds. Cameron Black scored four points and had three rebounds while leading the team in blocked shots (three) and, believe it or not, steals (three).
BiG PLAY: Detroit had used a big finish to the first half to cut BG's lead to four points at the break, and by the 13:55 mark of the second half the Titans had scored to lead 41-40. But on BG's next possession, the Falcons’ Jordon Crawford hit a 3-pointer and was fouled, then made the free throw with 13:30 to push BG back on top 44-41. While Detroit may have tied the game later, they never were able to retake the lead and never had another run similar to those two that got them back into the game. Honorable mention goes to another 3-pointer by Crawford, this one coming at the 9:31 mark of the second half to break a 47-47 tie and give the Falcons the lead for good.
BiG PLAYER OF THE GAME: Senior Jordon Crawford led the Falcons with 26 points, a career high, and had a well-rounded game with three rebounds, two assists and a steal with only one turnover in 34 minutes. Crawford was 9-for-16 from the field (56.3 percent) and 5-for-10 on 3-pointers while making all three of his free-throw attempts. Crawford was especially important to the offense in the second half, scoring 14 points and adding two assists while not committing a single turnover.
BiG NUMBERS: The Falcons 3-point shooting has improved in recent games. After making just four (in 18 tries) against Lake Erie and just three (in 16 attempts) against Cleveland State, BG made seven, eight and seven in its three games prior to the Detroit contest. Against the Titans, Bowling Green was 9-for-22 (40.9 percent). And while Jordon Crawford had five of those nine 3-pointers, four other Falcons had one: Luke Kraus, Anthony Henderson, Jehvon Clarke and James Erger.
BiG NOTE: The Falcons committed nine turnovers in the first half, and those miscues led to eight Detroit points that got the Titans back into the contest. But in the second half BG cleaned up its act and turned the ball over only once. And that lone turnover came on a change called against A'uston Calhoun with 2:01 left in the game. In short, the Falcons will have a lot of success if they continue to take care of the ball that well down the road.
BiG THOUGHT: Detroit is a good team -- Ray McCallum is an NBA-caliber talent, and the Titans were picked to finish second in the Horizon League after earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament last season. Yes, the game was played at the Stroh Center, and that helped. But even the Falcons' detractors will have to admit that BG played very well against a very good team on Tuesday night ... and deserved to win.
BiG QUESTION: Can the Falcons do it again? Bowling Green's next opponent, Youngstown State, is expected to do well in the Horizon League as well. It won't be easy, but BG's goal should be to repeat the solid shooting, limited turnovers, and solid defense late that helped combine to beat the Titans.