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Last second shot lifts BG past Miami

Mawel Soler brought the hoop down before the game and Josh Almanson brought the house down after the buzzer.

After a Soler pre-game warm-up dunk shattered the glass of the home basket, forcing a one hour and fifteen minute delay to the start of play, Almanson made the remaining home crowd grateful for their patience.

Almanson’s jumper with six seconds left in the game propelled the men’s basketball team to a 57-56 victory over Mid-American Conference East Division leader Miami.

The Falcons, who took their first lead of the game with 1:15 remaining, had the ball with 14.9 seconds and were trailing by one. Almanson came off a John Reimold screen, caught a pass from Cory Eyink, turned right and drained the shot.

“Reimold set the greatest pick I’ve ever seen and the shot was wide open,” said Almanson, who led the Falcons with 16 points.

The Red Hawks, who came in as the MAC’s top defensive team allowing 62.2 points per game, were able to control the tempo from the start. They led by as many as 13 points in the first half before taking a 35-27 lead to the locker room.

BG (17-8, 10-6 MAC) kept battling despite the intense pressure Miami (17-8, 11-5) put on Reimold, the MAC’s leading scorer, and Almanson, who is third in the conference. The two combined for 12 first half points on 6 of 17 shooting. But Steven Wright, who had totaled just six points in the previous three games, got back on track at the end of the half, scoring five points with a steal and assist to narrow the gap.

“The key to this game, quite frankly, was … when Steven Wright made three or four really good plays that enabled us to get [the score] within eight,” said BG head coach Dan Dakich of Wright, who finished with 14 points on five of seven shooting. “If he doesn’t do that, if it gets to 13 or beyond, I don’t think we win the basketball game. [Wright] just really stepped up and gave us a chance.”

William Hatcher led the RedHawks with 16 points and had four assists. He scored Miami’s first seven points of the game, but struggled in the second half as their lead began to slip. Danny Horace, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, was limited to 10 points and five rebounds.

After Wright picked up his second foul with 14:41 left in the first half, Dakich replaced him with Germain Fitch, who had not played since Jan. 29 at Ohio and was thought to be out for the remainder of the season. He played just one minute, but his presence brought life to the crowd and team.

Soler’s dunk before the game did not appear to be rough, but the glass shattered completely around, forcing the delay. The hoop was ready for play after a new backboard was attached, but Almanson nearly brought it down again. After a two- handed slam with 10:27 remaining, a cable broke free from the top of the backboard, which forced another short delay.

The Falcons head to Kalamazoo, Mich. on Wednesday to face Western Michigan, who is tied with BG atop the MAC West. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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