Bending at the break

Ryan Autullo and Ryan Autullo

BGSU coach Dan Dakich sensed that visiting Oakland University had found its comfort zone entering halftime last night.

And he was confident his Falcons had lost their level of comfort despite leading by five at the break.

He was right on both accounts.

Oakland opened the second half with a 15-3 run and scored 43 points in the frame, topping BG 76-66 at Anderson Arena.

Just five minutes removed from halftime, the Falcons were already trailing by eight.

“I really felt at halftime we were a dead team for whatever reason,” Dakich said. “I don’t know what it was.”

Pick your reason.

Inexperience? The Falcons only have one senior and play at least three freshman. Not controlling the ball? BG had several turnovers early in the second half and 19 in the game. Hot shooting by the opposition? Oakland was 48 percent in the half.

But Mawel Soler suggested another reason. And it was a little more painful to accept than the others.

“They out-toughed us,” he said. “They came out with an intensity. They just kicked our butt, and we didn’t do anything about it.”

Soler, the lone Falcon senior, finished with seven points and 11 rebounds and Matt LeFeld added 13 points off the bench. Martin Samarco, the reigning MAC East Player of the Week, scored 16 points, but 13 came in the first half. Samarco knocked down a 3 to cut Oakland’s lead to five with 14:48 remaining in the second half, but didn’t make a shot the remainder of the game.

Samarco, who is averaging 17.1 PPG rarely saw the ball in the second half as he was a point of emphasis in the Golden Grizzlies’ zone defense.

“This is the first team we’ve played where we had to take a shooter away in that zone, and we struggled with that early,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe. “At the half, we made the adjustment that we’d double the post and deny (Samarco) the ball, and I think that won the game for us.”

BG standout freshman Erik Marschall started at center, scoring 10 points in 28 minutes. He was matched in scoring by point guard John Floyd, who played for Oakland two years ago, was just 5-of-19 from the field.

Kampe, a 1978 graduate of BGSU, won for the first time in three tries at his alma mater. Much like Dakich, Kampe has a team high on potential but short on experience. Floyd is the only returning player on either team who started last year in the Golden Grizzlies’ 77-53 win at home.

But Kampe appears to have found solid replacements from a team that qualified for the NCAA tournament last year, while Dakich is still experimenting.

Calvin Wooten, a transfer from Rutgers, led Oakland with 22 points from his point guard spot and freshman Derick Nelson scored nine points and had 10 rebounds. Shawn Hopes, another player who wasn’t on the team last year, scored 15 and used his 275-pound frame to grab eight boards.

“I don’t want to make too much of this game,” Kampe said. “Both teams are very similar, they’re very young teams. Basically, this was a November game with two teams trying to find out a lot about themselves. I don’t think you can make too much of it.”

Unless your Dakich.

The venerable coach saw two completely different BG teams last night. There’s the one that led by nine with 6:58 remaining in the first half, then there’s the one that trailed by 17 with under three minutes left in the game.

Despite not playing for 11 days, the Falcons weren’t rusty to open the game, but they certainly were after a 20-minute intermission.

“I thought the game was obviously decided to start the second half,” Dakich said. “I felt like they came out and really got comfortable playing against us and just beat us. I mean absolutely beat us.”