Falcons wiin MAC opener

Chris Willig and Chris Willig

The cliché “defense wins games” has been overdone by basketball coaches and players for as long as basketball has been around. It does, however, exemplify the Falcons win last night against Mid-American Conference opponent Buffalo.

The name of the game for the Falcons was defense, which held Buffalo to a mere 23 points in the first half leading to a 76-59 win over their first MAC opponent of the season.

The Falcons defense had 13 steals and three blocks in their defensive stand and forced Buffalo to 24 turnovers and a 40 percent shooting percentage for the game.

The defensive surge also catapulted the Falcons offense to a majority of their 76 points as they set the tone and fast pace of the game, which ultimately won them the game with their up-tempo transition offense.

“It was a gutsy performance by the team,” said Falcons head coach Dan Dakich, “We played good defense and we forced them out of their game.”

Not only was Buffalo out of their game offensively, but defensively as well. The tempo of the game had Buffalo in late foul trouble and did not leave them with much of a comeback opportunity.

On the other side of the ball the Falcons were led by junior center Kevin Netter. Netter led the high speed transitional offense with 36 points. Netter’s 36 points came complement of his ability to play defense, with his team leading three steals, and ability to run the floor.

Netter also helped get the crowd at Anderson Arena on their feet. The excitement of the first half was capped off with an alley-OOP from Jabari Mattox to Netter with eight minutes left in the first half. The students at Anderson Arena, which for many was their first chance to see the Falcons in regular season action, was highly energized.

The second half proved to be much of the same as the Falcons blew open their 11 point half-time lead. With the same defensive intensity of the first half the Falcons seemed to bury Buffalo early in the second half which was capped off with back-to-back three-pointers by John Reimold and Cory Ryan.

With the Falcons comfortably ahead in the second half the “Kevin Netter show” continued. In three trips down the floor Netter had three dunks and a blocked shot, and had the crowd shouting “Kevin Netter”.

“We needed a leader and I knew I had to step up,” said Netter. “I have to take the role as the leader and step up my game. I have some big shoes to fill.”

Last night’s win was not only big for the Falcons in terms of the score, but it was also big for the future. The young inexperienced team proved tough in their first MAC game.

“We didn’t let up tonight, now the thing is we have to do it again and again,” said Dakich.

The Falcons certainly can not afford to let up, with three upcoming road games against Northwestern, Michigan and Alabama, the Falcons will have to be at the peak of their game to be victorious.

INJURY NOTE: The Falcons lost sophomore Germain Fitch to an ACL tear in Tuesday’s practice. His status as to whether he will play at all this season is still undetermined.