Men drop 4th in 5 games

In less than a minute Brandon Pardon made the biggest shot, and the biggest mistake of his Bowling Green career.

With 51 seconds remaining in Saturday’s game, the junior guard connected on a three pointer to put the BG men’s basketball team up 59-58 over Ball State.

When the Falcons got the ball back after a Cardinals traveling call, Pardon, the leader in assists in the Mid-American Conference, took his eye off the ball for a split second as the inbounds pass went through his hands and into the grasp of Ball State guard Patrick Jackson.

Jackson hit a lay-up with 26 seconds to play, which gave Ball State a 60-59 advantage. BG guard Cory Ryan, who ended the day 2 of 7 from behind the arc, launched a three from the right wing in an attempt to win but fell short.

“Coach didn’t want us to foul and I wanted to pressure him (Pardon) and maybe I could have gotten my hand on it or gotten a deflection or something,” Jackson said. “I don’t know what happened, he just came down and I saw the ball go loose and I took off after it. I grabbed it and went down and scored a lay-up.”

The Falcons were forced to foul and two free throws from forward Theron Smith sealed the win for Ball State at 62- 59 and gave the Falcons their third loss in a row.

The defeat dropped BG’s record to 6-9 overall and 2-4 in the MAC, the win gave the defending MAC Tournament Champions a 9-6 overall and 4-2 MAC mark.

“Of all the games we played this year, it is probably the hardest to take because we didn’t have the game won by any stretch of the imagination,” said BG coach Dan Dakich. “But your up one with the ball and well under 1:45 to go and you pretty much feel like you’d be able to hang in there and win the game but we didn’t get it done.”

Guard Keith McLeod’s 15 points led the Brown and Orange scoring attack, which was held to 37.9 percent from the floor. BG big men Len Matela, Kevin Netter and Brent Klassen were held scoreless during a combined 20 minutes.

“I am pretty pleased with the overall defense,” said Ball State coach Tim Buckley. “If you can hold Bowling Green in their own building to 37 percent, I think your players have given you everything they can. We were able to take away the lane for Matela.”

Forward Trent Jackson hit for 14 and Ryan scored 10 points.

Despite the loss, Jackson feels the Falcons are at a turning point in their season.

“It was a tough loss but I believe the loss helped us out a lot,” Jackson said. “We played more as a family than other games. I believe this game brought us more together…hopefully, we can continue to do that.”

Jackson led the Cardinals with 14 points, including 2 of 4 from behind the arc. Smith, Ball State’s leading scorer, was held to one point at half-time but ended the night with 12 points, all 11 coming from the eight minute mark on in the second half.

“T (Smith) got in early foul trouble in the first half so he really didn’t get a chance to play that much,” Jackson said. “Coach just told him to stay tough and come out in the second half and really make some big plays for us. And that is what he did. It’s hard to match-up with him.”

The Falcons jumped out to a 13-10 lead when McLeod made a lay-up at the 10:47 mark of the first half. The Cardinals battled back and took a17-15 lead on a Billy Lynch three pointer with 7:29 left to play. Ball State then went up by three but the Falcons fought back to tie the contest at 20 with 4:55 remaining.

A jumper from forward Josh Almanson and a three pointer from Ryan retook the lead for BG, 27-22 with under four minutes to go. A trey from McLeod pushed the score to 30-23, giving BG the largest lead of either team so far.

But Ball State wouldn’t die as Jones hit a field-goal and Jackson went coast to coast to sink a first half buzzer beater, which depleted the Brown and Orange’s lead to 30-27 at half-time.

At the start of the second half, the Cardinals’ Jackson drilled a three, 17 seconds into the half, to tie the game at 30. Teams traded the lead and BG regained the advantage at the 12:31 mark with a Pardon three pointer. The Cardinals came within one but a jumper from Jackson and a back door lay-up by McLeod gave the Brown and Orange a 45-40 lead with 11:08 left to play.

Ball State again tied the contest and again, both teams traded leads for several minutes. Two free throws from Cardinals’ Rob Robbins but Ball State up 52-50 but Ryan erased their advantage with a trey at the 4:34 mark.

Pardon’s three lit up the crowd of 3,301 but were soon silenced 25 seconds later.

“We didn’t make the plays we needed to make and they did, so they win,” Dakich said.