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BG Falcon Media

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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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BG throttles Eagles

The term “stretch run” is loosely defined in basketball. Mostly, it is the games at the tail end of the season when teams straddling the postseason fence can’t afford a mistake. For Bowling Green, it probably began with the loss at Kent State last week. Since then, they are 3-0, including last night’s 82-61 victory over Eastern Michigan at Anderson Arena.

If the Falcons (19-5, 9-4 MAC) wants to keep a hold on the third first-round bye in the Mid-American Conference tournament, the only way they can assure themselves of it is to win out. Keith McLeod did his part against the sinking Eagles (5-20, 1-13 MAC), breaking 30 points for the eighth time this season with a game-high 32. In reality, his game was worth another three to eight points as he helped hold Eastern Michigan’s leading scorer, Ricky Cottrill, to 12 points. Cottrill, who was averaging 20.4 points per game prior to last night, shot just 3-for-9 from the field in 35 minutes. Only his 4-for-4 night at the free-throw line put him into double figures.

“(McLeod) has been guarding whoever he needs to guard as hard as he can possibly guard him,” said BG coach Dan Dakich. “He’s been having a phenomenal year and not just offensively. He’s been guarding everybody.”

Len Matela was solid with 14 points and 10 rebounds, his 30th career double-double. Josh Almanson continued his run of inspired play, scoring eight points and being a constant presence in the low post during his 19 minutes.

Brent Klassen had an off night after his 8-for-8 performance against Marshall Saturday. In 18 minutes, he scored just five points and grabbed two rebounds.

The Falcons had trouble pulling away in the first half, falling behind as far as five at 17-12 just after the 13-minute mark. Then, they stuck their game in high gear and left it there for the remainder of the half, going on a 27-7 run to build a 37-22 lead with just under three minutes to play. At the end of the first half, a Cory Ryan three-pointer was nixed by a three-second violation, but Ryan got some revenge at the defensive end, blocking a shot by Eastern Michigan’s Michael Ross with under a minute to play. BG led 39-26 at the half.

According to Dakich, the start of the second half was the fulcrum of the game’s momentum, and the Falcons kept it firmly tilted in their direction. BG opened the half on an 8-3 run, and the win was basically academic from that point.

“I thought the key to the game as much as anything was the start of the second half,” Dakich said. “We took a 13-point lead and turned it into a 19-point lead. That was really important because you don’t want them to get it back to nine in a hurry.”

BG’s lead reached a high-water mark at 24 three times, once at 74-50 with just under six minutes to play, once at 78-54 with just over four minutes left and at 80-56 with just over two minutes left. Kevin Netter, who finished with seven points in 12 minutes, put the exclamation point on the win with an alley-oop dunk that got the crowd on its feet -the ones that weren?t already on their feet putting on their coats, anyway -for the game’s final two points.

Turnovers were the Marianas Trench in a sea of ocean-floor statistics for the Eagles. They coughed the ball up 21 times, 10 in the first half.

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