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Trio of senior leaders ready to guide Falcons through MAC Tournament

Three seniors highlight the men’s basketball team. Each of them have seen some of the lowest points the program has experienced, and each is playing a pivotal role in digging the BG name of the Mid-American Conference basement back to prominence. The basketball hierarchy at BG is different from most schools. With the possible exceptions of Tennessee and Rutgers, it’s uncommon to see a school that identifies with its women’s basketball team more so then it does with its men’s team. Right now, this is the case at BG. By no means is this unwarranted. The BG women’s team just recently won a record 25 games in a row, leaving several team and individual records broken in their path. But now, through the leadership of seniors Nate Miller, Brian Moten and Darryl Clements, it might be time for the men’s team to move up and ride shotgun. ‘When you combine their record with our record, we’re one of the best [programs] in the MAC right now,’ women’s coach Curt Miller said. ‘We’re basketball U.’ The men got off to a shaky start this season, one that looked eerily similar to last year’s. They started the season 0-7 in road games and constantly fell victim to poor play in the second half. Through the midway point of the season, the Falcons were 8-9 (1-3 MAC) and fading fast. Then something happened on a trip to Athens, Ohio. With the team trailing at halftime, BG battled back and picked up the victory, and a slew of wins followed. The men blew through their schedule against the MAC West, finishing 5-1 then returned to MAC East play, where they haven’t yet been beaten in their second go around. Something that went along with that first part of the season was the lack of leadership. There was no consistent standout player. There was nobody the team could look to or count on late in games, and the team’s brightest spot was the play of Chris Knight. Nothing against Knight, but he wasn’t the leader the Falcons were in need of. While in Athens, BG found that leader. Nate Miller emerged with a big performance and has had only one bad game since. ‘Nate has the courage it takes to be a leader,’ coach Louis Orr said. Miller has hit big shot after big shot for the Falcons lately. Against Eastern Michigan, with his team trailing by 10 points with 0:50 to play in the second half, Miller made two three-point shots, cutting the deficit to four. BG ultimately fell short, but in that 0:50, it became clear who the go-to guy was. Against Canisius, just six days later, with BG trailing by three and the clock running out, Miller took the ball up the court, and with 0:02 on the clock, nailed a three that sent the game into overtime. Once there, Miller scored every point for the Falcons. ‘When I’m working hard, everybody else is working hard,’ Miller said. No doubt. The BG offense has become one that is at its best when Miller drives to the basket. Upon doing so, his linebacker physique allows him to either get a layup, dunk or cause a double team, which allows him to hit either of his favorite targets. The first of which, coincidentally, is Moten. Moten, last year’s MAC Sixth Man of the Year Award winner, has become the team’s deadliest weapon from deep. This was never truer than in the team’s huge victory over Akron last Sunday. With the Falcons trailing 46-45 with under a minute to play, Moten knocked down an NBA-range three to give the Falcons the go-ahead basket. Moments later, Moten provided the game’s exclamation point by finishing a breakaway with a dunk that ended the game with a final score of 50-46. The second of Miller’s favorite two swingmen is Darryl Clements. Clements is often the forgotten man on the team. Not forgotten by his teammates of course, but by fans, statisticians and most of the media. Clements has repeatedly done the little things needed to make an average team a good team and then a good team a great team. He doesn’t have numbers that jump off the page by any means, but he provides the BG backcourt with a stable guard who is capable of rebounding and scoring when needed. So now the Falcons are less than a week away from heading east to Quicken Loans Arena for the MAC Tournament. They’ve done so with a possible No. 1 seed, something the team hasn’t seen since the 1999-00 season. ‘Our seniors, especially Brian Moten and Darryl Clements, have done an outstanding job of leading our team,’ Orr said. The younger members of the team feel the same way. ‘Our seniors have done a great job of stepping up, and they’re the leaders of this team,’ freshman guard Scott Thomas said. For BG’s three seniors, time is running out. Still, their final act may be the most impressive yet. ‘We want to win the MAC regular season, [and] the MAC Tournament,’ Moten said. ‘If I could leave as a senior and leave this program in a place like that, personally that’s something I have as a goal.’ It’s likely the Falcons will make the postseason this year. Whether it be in the NIT or the NCAA Tournament. For a team that many consider to not even be the best team playing in its own house, that’s not too bad.

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