On a night honoring former BGSU basketball star Richaun Holmes, the Falcons competed for a 62-59 win over Eastern Michigan. Guard Justin Turner led the way for Bowling Green, collecting 25 points and seven rebounds.
It was a slower start to the match as each team went toe-to-toe sizing up the competition.
“It was not pretty, but we came out with the victory,” head coach Michael Huger said after the game.
A fierce zone defense from Eastern Michigan pushed the Falcons out to the perimeter early, where they could not find a rhythm. Going into the locker room, Bowling Green hit just three of their 14 first-half three-point attempts and had a score knotted up at 27-27.
“(Eastern Michigan’s zone defense) was very big. It was very athletic and it gives you problems,” Huger said. “As soon as you think you have it solved they make an adjustment, you miss a couple of shots, they go down and score and next thing you know the game is tied.”
It wasn’t until Daeqwon Plowden came down with a thunderous dunk that sent a shockwave through the Stroh Center that Bowling Green could regain some momentum. A dunk so vicious and authoritative, the former Falcon Holmes jumped out of his seat in the middle of an interview from pure shock at what had just occurred.
The Eagles were sure to take advantage of the mistakes Bowling Green made in the first half. Ty Groce’s seven first-half points were part of the six points they had off of turnovers.
Looking to readjust, BGSU needed to solve their long-range woes. Turner and Fields offered a solution right out of the halftime break, teaming up for 10 field goals—each recording two threes in the opening five minutes of the second half.
“My mindset is to just do whatever we can to win the game,” Turner said. “When the time was going down, the ball needed to be in my hands, whether I have to demand it or we run a play for me. Fortunately, I was able to knock them in.”
Turner continued his torrid pace into the second half. 11 of his 25 points came in the latter half, but it was the clutch shots that went down for him that stood out. This coming after just five points in his previous outing against Northern Illinois.
Just when the Falcons thought they had things figured out on offense, coverage from EMU began to tighten up once again. Turnovers and missed foul shots from BGSU lead to a 16-4 run for the Eagles past the halfway point of the second half. With under two minutes left in the game, it was a one-possession game with Eastern Michigan holding a 55-54 lead.
“We never gave up. We were able to get out in transition and then Trey Diggs hit a big three for us in the corner,” Huger said. “If you can knock down your shots against a zone you’ll be successful… You have to know what you’re doing. If you try to mix it up you’re going to confuse everybody.”
Fittingly, it ended up being Turner that hit the dagger layup and foul with 44 seconds left on the clock that put the Falcons up by five with time winding down fast for Eastern Michigan. A last-second dunk was not enough, and the final score reaches 62-59 in favor of BGSU.
The Falcons now travel to Toledo for the latest edition of the Battle of I-75, where two first-place teams in Toledo and Bowling Green will face off.
“I played here. I was in those battles, so it has always been exciting when you get a chance to play against Toledo,” Huger said. “I haven’t won there since I’ve been here, so this is an opportunity once again.”