Falcons lose Battle of I-75 to rival Toledo

Buffalo+2-+Evan

Buffalo 2- Evan

Evan Hayes and Evan Hayes

The Bowling Green State University Men’s Basketball team’s hot start to their conference schedule hit a snag this past Saturday night as the Falcon’s offense came crashing down to Earth, losing in front of their home crowd to rival Toledo in the Battle of I-75, 78-71.

After a 13 game stretch that saw the Falcons (16-7, 8-2 MAC) shoot over 42 percent from three-point range, the MAC’s top three-point shooting offense shot a woeful 5 of 27 from behind the arc and 38.8 percent from the field overall in the game. The rival Rockets (20-4, 8-3 MAC) were able to capitalize in front of a sold-out Stroh Center, pulling away in the last two minute.

“Toledo did a very good job offensively. They were the better team tonight,” head coach Michael Huger said. “They played extremely well, and that was the difference in the the game.”

A second half that saw seven lead changes ended with the Rockets going on an 7-0 run over the last 2 minutes of the game to secure the road win. The Falcons missed four three-pointers in that span, and a layup by senior Antwon Lillard with 5 seconds left ended the game.

“They made shots. They made shots, that was the difference. They were able to score, we didn’t score, and that was the difference. They were able to get the stops because we missed, and they were able to execute on the offensive end, and that was really the difference in the game.”

“They made their free throws down the stretch, and that’s the game.”

Junior guard Dylan Frye led the team in scoring with 17 points, while senior forward Demajeo Wiggins recorded his fifteenth double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore Daeqwon Plowden scored 11 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and collected 2 blocks and three steals.

Guard Chris Darrington led the Rockets in scoring with 20 points, while forward Nate Navigato scored 14 points. Guard Jaelen Sanford recorded 12 points and 11 rebounds.

The first half was back and forth, with both teams struggling to find their groove early on offense. The Falcons shooting was cold, while the Rockets saw their offense hampered by early sloppy play, committing 11 turnovers and 10 fouls. The Rockets took an early 19-15 lead on the boards, a lead they would maintain the entire game.

“We gave up way too many offensive rebounds that led to key baskets for them…Just a will to go grab the ball, we’ve got to learn from that tonight,” said Wiggins.

The lead changed hands nine times, with both teams going back and forth at each other. The Rockets took a lead with 1:32 left in the opening half on a three pointer by Marreon Jackson, and a made free throw by Frye closed out the half with the score 35-33.

With the loss, the Falcons now again share first place in the MAC. Both squads are tied, 8-2 in conference.

The Falcons will be in action again on Tuesday, when Central Michigan visits the Stroh Center. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

Here is a short audio recap of the beginning of the game: