BGSU men’s basketball won a nail-biter on Saturday against Oakland by a score of 68-65. This was definitely a game of runs, and both teams played some very solid basketball down the stretch. The main issue coming into this game was the question of who was going to step up in the absence of Justin Turner, who is nursing a hamstring injury.
The Falcons came out of the gates hot from the field and were able to score a lot off of the fast break as well as in the paint. Tayler Mattos did a great job of cleaning the boards, grabbing nine and scoring a career-high 12 points. Oakland did not back down from Bowling Green’s intensity and was able to do most of their scoring in the paint. Big man Xavier Hill-Mais was a force down low and caused some problems for Bowling Green’s bigs.
Daeqwon Plowden really stepped up in the absence of Turner, starting the game six for six from the field and cleaning the boards. The three-pointer was really working for Plowden, which is usually an area he does not normally excel in. Oakland was somewhat sloppy with the ball in the first half and the Falcons did a great job of applying pressure to their ball handlers to force bad passes. They had seven steals in the first half alone, and turnovers are what ultimately made the difference in this game. Head coach Michael Huger decided to switch up his subs as well, going with Davin Zeigler and Chandler Turner instead of Matiss Kulackovskis who did not play in this game. The Falcons went on a nice run to end the half and was able to jump out to a 39-30 lead heading into halftime.
Both teams started the second half cold from the field, but it seemed like neither team could get a stop down the stretch. Plowden continued to dominate in this game, scoring a career-high 25 points, his first career game with 20 or more points, and grabbed nine rebounds. Despite Bowling Green playing a solid game, Oakland would not go away as they went on an 11-point run to actually take the lead with 6:58 left in the half. Huger praised Oakland for their style of play and insisted the Falcons need to improve defensively.
“We couldn’t stop them to save our lives in the second half, they scored at will,” he said. “The main thing is communication. Our guys would get lost on their cross-screens, a lot of teams don’t play like that and they did a really good job tonight.”
Hill-Mais was the main beneficiary of their cross-screen action, scoring 22 points and 12 rebounds in the game.
Trey Diggs only had eight points in the game, but ended up being the hero of the night, going on a quick five point run by himself and hitting a huge three to put the Falcons up 63-62 in the final minute of the game. The Falcons got the stops they needed in crunch time and Mike Laster hit some clutch free-throws to seal the victory for the Falcons. The biggest difference in the game was turnovers, with Bowling Green only having five and Oakland with 15. The Falcons will face off against the Cleveland State Vikings in their next game on Dec. 15.