Men’s basketball falters in Senior Day loss

Paul Barney and Paul Barney

Any hope the BG men’s basketball team had of hosting a first round home game in the Mid-American Conference Tournament were put to rest on Saturday as the Falcons lost to visiting Akron, 74-68, on Senior Day.

The loss dropped the Falcons to 14-14 overall and 6-9 in the MAC, putting them in a position to close out the regular season as the No. 9 or No. 10 seed with one game remaining — forcing BG to be on the road for the first round of the MAC Tournament on Sunday at either Ball State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Miami or Western Michigan.

On the contrary, Akron improves to 22-8 overall and 12-3 in the MAC, setting up a Friday ESPN 2 telecast with Kent State to determine this year’s MAC Champion and No. 1 seed for the MAC Tournament.

Before they could get to Kent State, however, they had to get past BG, who just three days prior gave Kent State all they could handle in a six-point Falcons defeat.

BG did much of the same against the Zips, and ironically enough, lost by six.

After a dunk from senior Otis Polk put BG up 12-7 under five minutes into the game, Akron built a 15-2 run over the next seven minutes to take a 22-14 lead, a lead in which the Zips would never relinquish as they led by 13 at the break.

Rebounding cost the Falcons in the first half, as Akron held a 22-9 advantage on the glass, including 12 offensive boards to outscore BG 17-4 on second chance points.

“We didn’t defend and rebound in the first half,” senior Erik Marschall said. “We knew it was going to be a war on the defensive rebounds. In the first half they beat us and that’s the story of the ballgame.”

Much like in the loss to the Golden Flashes, BG made a strong bid in the second half as they turned a 13-point halftime deficit into a five-point deficit with 7:50 left in the game.

With 0:48 remaining in the game BG trailed by only four, but the Falcons were forced to foul and Akron sealed the game by going 4-for-4 at the free-throw line down the stretch.

The Falcons shot 56 percent in the second half while limiting the Zips to three offensive rebounds and one second chance point, but Brett McKnight’s 11 of his team-high 15 points in the game’s final 20 minutes paid dividends for Akron in getting the win.

“We had a battle on our hands [and] I thought Bowling Green competed really hard,” Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. “I thought Brett did a really good job at crunch time of really carrying us.”

McKnight led the Zips with 15 points on 6-of-10 from the floor and Jimmy Conyers followed with 12.

For the Falcons, four different players scored in double figures including Polk, who scored 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting in the second half to finish with a game-high 17 points.

Also leading the way for BG was Scott Thomas, Marschall and Dee Brown, who finished with 16, 10 and 12 points, respectively.

Saturday’s game marked the last regular season home game in the careers of seniors Matt Karaffa, Marc Larson, Marschall and Polk.

“I tip my hat to our seniors,” BG coach Louis Orr said. “They’ve been with me for three years. They helped us win a MAC Championship and they helped us do some good things during those three years.”

The Falcons will now have the next few days off before closing out the regular season at Ohio on Thursday.