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Seniors lead way to win

In the 1970 NBA Finals, the New York Knicks headed into game seven against the Lakers with most people believing they would be without one of their stars, Willis Reed, who was injured.

With minutes to go before the game, however, Reed walked onto the court in uniform and played. The inspired Knicks won the NBA title.

Perhaps what transpired last night at Anderson Arena wasn’t quite that dramatic, but it was just as meaningful to the outcome of the game, a 65-59 victory over Michigan for the Bowling Green basketball team.

Seniors Len Matela and Keith McLeod were largely absent from the scorebook for much of the first half. McLeod had three points, all on free throws. Matela had six points on 3-for-5 shooting and was largely held in check by Michigan center Chris Young.

The Falcons fell behind by as many as 10 points in the first half, but managed to pull themselves up and trail by just four at halftime.

“n the second half, BG’s versions of Willis Reed came out of the locker room. Stifled, but not stopped, McLeod and Matela played the role of go-to guys perfectly. McLeod, fighting through foot cramps, scored 14 points after halftime, including a dagger that forced the last drops of Blue blood from the Wolverines, a three-pointer with 29 seconds left that put BG up 63-58.

?The shot … I had my mind made up, it was do-or-die,” McLeod said. “I had a lot of confidence it was going to go in.”

Matela scored eight points in the second half, including a lay-up with 1:40 to play that put BG up to stay, 60-58.

“It’s all about sticking with it,” Matela said about his first half. “I tried not to let myself get down, worried about trying to keep my teammates up.”

McLeod and Matela led BG with 17 and 14 points respectively. On a team full of young players, the ability of McLeod, Matela and Brandon Pardon to be the senior leaders is crucial.

Pardon finished with 11 points.

“We had Erik (Crawford), a freshman, in there and I’m just trying to make sure he knows what’s going on, be sure everybody else knows what’s going on,” Matela said.

Crawford started the game, finishing with nine points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 from the line.

At the end of the game, a tidal wave of fans spilled onto the floor and surrounded the team. It was a high-pressure game against a high-profile opponent and the Falcons, led by their seniors, passed the test.

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