McLeod leads way to Falcon win

Nick Hurm and Nick Hurm

Remember when John F. Kennedy was Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year”? Or when the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s premiered? If not, then most likely you don’t remember the last time the Bowling Green men’s basketball team started off their season any better than their current 8-1 record.

With an 84-72 win over Evansville Saturday, BG equaled it best starts since the 1989-90 and ’61-62 seasons. The ’61-62 squad started out the season at 15-1 under legendary coach Harold Anderson. The seven-game win streak is the longest under coach Dan Dakich.

“It’s been an incredible run for us,” said BG senior guard Keith McLeod. “Coach Dakich tells us to stick together and as long as we do that we will be o.k.”

McLeod led the Falcons with a game-high 33 points in the road victory. He was 4-of-8 behind the three-point line and connected on all 11 of his free throws. He also added four steals.

“I was an assistant under Coach Knight at Indiana and I witnessed a lot of great starts by a lot of great players,” Dakich wrote in “McLeod’s start to the 2001-2002 season is as good as any I have ever seen.”

BG jumped out to a 32-25 start when Dakich was kicked out of the game after receiving his second technical foul for arguing with an official about an intentional foul called on BG senior guard Brandon Pardon. Assistant coach Keith Noftz took over for Dakich. Dakich received his first technical with 11 minutes left in the first half.

“Sometimes you get a T for a good reason, but I’m not too excited about getting thrown out tonight,” Dakich said. “I don’t think I was necessarily deserving – I don’t think I crossed the line – but they did. My assistant coaches get credit for this one and the players obviously did the job out on the floor.”

“It was an example of great leadership,” Noftz said. “We feel like we have 13 kids who can play, and tonight a few of them got their shot and played a lot with the foul situation and they came through.”

The Falcons went into half-time with a 41-38 lead. The Falcons committed a season high 32 fouls in the game. Only senior center Len Matela fouled out.

For the fourth time this season, the Falcons rallied from a second half deficit after Evansville jumped out to a 46-44 lead with 15:13 left in the second half. After sophomore Josh Almanson hit two free throws at 14:09 to give the Falcons a 49-48 lead, BG went on an 18-9 run to take a 67-57 lead with just under seven minutes left to play in the game.

“The support we received from our bench was a hug,” Pardon said. “They picked us up all the time. I have a lot of respect for our guys.”

The Falcons will return to action Saturday with an 8:00 p.m. matchup with Detroit at home.