Rocket runs kill Falcons, growing pains continue for young team

TOLEDO – In their only meeting this season, the BG men’s basketball team fell to the Toledo Rockets by a score of 64-48 in front of about 6,000 people at Toledo’s Savage Hall on Saturday night.

“I thought the difference in the game was the difference between older seniors and younger kids,” said BG coach Dan Dakich. “It’s a growing deal with our team.”

After a Martin Samarco three pointer gave the Falcons a 14-12 advantage with about 12 minutes to go in the half, the Rockets went on a 15-3 run over the next nine minutes to turn a two point deficit into a ten point lead.

Over that stretch, the Falcons only points came on three Samarco free throws. The team missed nine shots including six three-pointers – most of which were uncontested. The Falcons also turned the ball over seven times during those nine minutes.

“I thought, in the first half in particular, Martin, Moten and Dusan had great shots that they’re in everyday working on and they didn’t make,” Dakich said. “At the end of the day, you have to make those. The difference between winning and losing is making or missing.”

At the end of the first half, the Rockets held a 32-22 advantage. It was a half that saw neither team shoot above 29 percent, but the difference was Toledo made more free throws (12) than BG attempted (8) in the first half.

The teams essentially traded baskets in the second half, with Toledo’s biggest lead being 12, and the lowest deficit for the Falcons, seven, until about the six-minute mark when the Falcons cut the lead to six after a lay up by Brian Moten.

“When they cut it to six, the next nine possessions we got defensive stops,” said Toledo coach Stan Joplin. “I think that was probably the ball game from that stand point.”

Over the final six minutes, The Rockets went on a 10-0 run to close the game while the Falcons turned the ball over five times and missed four shots.

Florentino Valencia and Jonathan Amos led the way for the Rockets. Valencia converted 11-14 free throw attempts on his way to 17 points and eight rebounds. Amos came off the bench to add 16 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

“I just take what the defense gives me,” Amos said. “Coach wants me to go out there and play defense and rebound – so that’s what I do and then if points come, I just take what they give me.”

Amos held Mid-American Conference leading scorer Martin Samarco to 13 points on 4-14 shooting.

“The fact that I played well against him defensively – he leads the MAC in scoring, so I just wanted to hold him under his average,” Amos said.

The Falcons were done in by numerous miscues on the night. The team allowed two scoring runs that amounted to 25-3 in favor of the Rockets. They also turned the ball over 23 times and missed 18 of the 21 three point shots that they took.

For the game, BG shot 36 percent from the field, 14 percent from behind the arc and 42 percent from the line.

“We got to play for a complete 40 minutes,” said BG forward Nate Miller. “Shots may not go, but as long as we play defense like coach wants us to, we can get better over the next four weeks.”

Miller added eleven points and eleven rebounds but also missed five of his six free throw attempts. Ryne Hamblet chipped in with 12 points and eleven rebounds but also had six turnovers.

“We fouled, we turned it over and we missed shots,” Dakich said. “At the end of the day, you’re lucky to be within six with six minutes to go doing that.”

The Falcons will next be in action on Wednesday as they travel to Dekalb, Illinois to take on Northern Illinois at 8 p.m.