Falcons lose in MAC Championship Finals

MAC+Championship

MAC Championship

Jacob Clary and Jacob Clary

The Buffalo Bulls defeated the Bowling Green State Falcons 87-73 in the MAC Championship final, which means the season is over for the Falcons. This title is the fourth MAC Tournament title in the last five years for the Bulls.

The Falcons were looking for their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1968. This was also their first appearance in the MAC Championship game in 17 years. The two teams split their season series, with the Falcons winning at Bowling Green and the Bulls winning at Buffalo in the regular season finale.

The first half was two different stories. The beginning of the half was going the Bulls’ way, with them scoring left and right. Bulls guard Jeremy Harris led them in scoring with 14 points in the first half as well as having the lead in rebounds with four. Harris was able to do whatever he wanted to the Falcons, driving down the floor as well as making a few jump shots. The Bulls were 6 for 18 on the 3-point shot and were 41.7 percent on their field goals. The Falcons also at one point missed seven shots in a row and didn’t score for six whole minutes. The biggest deficit the Falcons faced in the first half was when the Bulls led 28-13 with eight minutes left.

However, the Falcons were able to make those points back, going on a massive run to cut the score to 39-38 at the end of the first half. Demajeo Wiggins led the Falcons in scoring with 11 points, and Wiggins and Daeqwon Plowden led in rebounds with four each. The Falcons shot terribly from the 3-point line, going 2 for 10, but they shot 45.7 percent overall. The Falcons also out-rebounded the Bulls 25-17.

“Yeah, we knew that the game is a game of runs,” Plowden said. “The game could go any direction. And just from that day, we know that we are capable of beating them. But they were just a better team tonight.”

The Falcons turned the ball over too much in the first half, turning it over nine times. Against a team of Buffalo’s caliber, the Falcons were making too many mistakes. However, the end of the half the Falcons were the better team by far, which showed on the scoreboard as they brought themselves within one point. This helped them bring the momentum back, which they carried into the second half.

“I think we will be one of the teams that they will remember, just from what we’ve done and things that we were able to accomplish, the home record and sellout crowds and different things and being able to beat an 18th ranked Buffalo team at home,” Head Coach Michael Huger said. “I think a lot of fans would definitely remember that. We came up short today. We would have really been remembered if we would have won tonight. It is what it is.”

The second half was a battle between the Falcons and Bulls. For the first 12 minutes of the second half, the teams traded leads. However, the Bulls were able to pull away at the end of the half when the Falcons shooters started going cold. The Bulls were led by senior Jeremy Harris, who finished with 31 points. Harris took over the game at the end, and the Falcons couldn’t stop him. The end of the second half mirrored the beginning of the first in that respect. Jayvon Graves and CJ Massinburg were second for the Bulls in scoring with 17 points each. Massinburg also led the Bulls in rebounds with 10. Compared to the first half, the Bulls finished with a total field goal percentage of 46.8, with 39.4 percent from the 3-point line. They were unstoppable when they got hot, and the Falcons couldn’t keep up with them.

The Falcons were led in scoring by All-MAC guard Justin Turner and Plowden, who each had 16 points. Wiggins also finished with 14 points and led the team in rebounds with 10, giving him another double-double on the season. The Falcons finished the game with field goal percentage of 39.4 and an abysmal 26.9 percent from the 3-point line. One shining point, however, was the Falcons out-rebounded the Bulls 48-33, but it wasn’t enough to get them ahead on the scoreboard.

“Well, really we feel like we kind of fell short of the goal,” Turner said. “I mean, we did have a year where we were picked to finish last and things like that, but we still came up short. But this is going to sting for a minute, and then the sophomores, people that’s coming back, we’re going to get right back to work because the goal’s still not accomplished. We’re not satisfied with this year, we expect more next year.”

The Falcons appearance in the finals and performance this season was surprising. Instead of looking at this loss, look ahead to what the program is capable of doing. This may be the end of the season, but it could be the resurgence in notoriety for the program.