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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Falcons to play Ohio at Anderson Arena tonight

Kent State’s basketball team appears to be running away with the Mid-American Conference’s Eastern Division. The Golden Flashes have a three game lead and a 10-1 conference record. With less than 10 regular season games left, that makes it quite difficult for any team to catch them.

It doesn’t make the stretch run a wash for the rest of the division, however. Second place will be on the line tonight as Bowling Green hosts Ohio at Anderson Arena. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. The game could be critical in jockeying for MAC Tournament seeding. Right now, Ohio and Bowling Green are the conference’s third and fourth seeds respectively.

Heading into tonight, Ohio is in second place, one game ahead of the Falcons with a 7-3 conference record. BG is 6-4 in the MAC following Monday’s loss at Kent State.

A win tonight would give the Falcons a leg up on a tiebreak if the teams finish the regular season deadlocked. BG’s regular season finale is at Ohio March 2.

The Bobcats have a trio of juniors averging double-figure points per game. Six-foot-seven forward Brandon Hunter is nearly averaging a double-double. He is his team’s leading scorer at 17.8 points per game and the team’s leading rebounder at 9.4 per game. Sonny Johnson, a 6′ 5″ foward, is averaging 16.2 points per game.

Ohio’s best all-around player has a local connection. Steve Esterkamp, brother of former Falcon Dave Esterkamp, is the team’s third-leading scorer at 14.2 points per game. He leads the team in assists (37), steals (38), field goal percentage (.541) and free-throw percentage (.829).

Tonight will be the first trip to BG for first-year Ohio coach Tim O’Shea.

“When you talk about Bowling Green, of course you talk about (Keith) McLeod and (Len) Matela,” he said. “This is a team that plays really well at home. We won at Marshall, and hopefully we can carry that momentum into Bowling Green.”

Ohio defeated Marshall 94-78 Saturday despite not having Hunter, who was serving a one-game suspension.

“I think that game proved we’re more than just Brandon Hunter,” O’Shea said. Esterkamp picked up the slack for Hunter, finishing with 29 points.

On BG’s end, this is the next in a series of important games down the stretch.

“It means a lot to us, not just the game, but for the race,” BG guard Cory Ryan said. “We need to get back to playing like we used to.” Ryan said in order to beat Ohio, BG will need to play good defense on the entire team, not just the best players.

“It’s not just shutting two players down,” he said. “We need to shut their whole team down on defense. We have to not let them do what they want to do.

“We need to look at what we did wrong Monday night and just play better overall. . . every matchup is going to be key.”

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