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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Falcons off the shnide with win

The Bowling Green basketball team’s 51-48 victory over Miami at Anderson Arena Saturday was really a football game. It just didn’t know it.

After seven straight losses and weeks of frustration, the Falcons finally delivered coach Dan Dakich the 100th victory of his BG career. But the only thing close to pretty about this game was the outcome.

That, and the play of Cole Magner.

In a spastic slugfest that saw BG (11-14, 7-9 MAC) commit 21 turnovers and Miami (13-12, 11-5 MAC) commit 15, and saw neither team even attempt 20 shots in the first half, Magner was a ray of sunlight for the Falcons.

The moonlighting footballer was less a thorn in the side of the RedHawks than a full-sized jousting lance knocking them off their mount again and again.

Pushing aside his four turnovers (which didn’t even put him in the top two for the game), Magner stole the ball six times, several of them starting fast breaks. Running the point, he dished out a team-high four assists, and (maybe you should sit down) tied for the team lead with eight rebounds. Magner is a diminutive-by-basketball-standards 6′-2″.

His eight points don’t seem like much until you find out most of them came in the most critical point in the game, early in the second half. Six of Magner’s eight points came on an 11-0 run that gave the Falcons the lead for good.

Magner stymied Miami by putting his wide receiver’s speed to good use, clogging passing lanes and jumping to get a hand on the ball whenever possible.

“The football team was there watching,” Magner said. “I had to perform for them. My boys were out there.”

How much of a football game was this? The halftime score was 21-17.

BG lagged for much of the first half, and it appeared they would, as many times in the past month, get mired in a hole early and not be able to climb out. Despite a very sluggish offense, Miami was able to milk a single-digit lead for much of the half. They did it mostly because no matter how slow their offense was, BG’s defense always seemed a step slower. The Falcons were getting tangled in knots under the hoop and getting nailed for minute infractions off the ball all throughout the half, and that allowed the RedHawks to set up shop at the free-throw line. Miami wasn’t even that good there, converting 7-of-14 from the stripe in the half. But BG was a mere 4-for-5, all by Kevin Netter. That discrepancy, and a pair of three-pointers from Chet Mason, kept Miami’s lead intact to the half.

BG started making up ground in the second half, mostly in the form of Netter, who finished with a game-high 22 points. Miami clogged the paint all afternoon, double-teaming Netter and forcing him into bad passes. Netter, however, stuck with the game plan and began forcing himself inside. It started to pay off. The hacks from Miami’s frontcourt turned into free throws, and Netter finished 10-of-14 from the line.

Ultimately, it was Netter’s free throws and Magner’s quick hands that sealed the game for the Falcons. Netter converted four throws in the final three and a half minutes as BG repaid Miami for the end of the first half, milking a small lead for all they could. Miami gave a last-gasp effort with under a minute to play. Trailing by five, Doug Williams hit a three-pointer with the shot clock about to expire, cutting the BG lead to 49-47. Miami jostled the ball loose from BG in their backcourt and Gene Seals was fouled with 12 second to play. He split the pair, missing the second, to make it 49-48.

Then the dagger. Off the miss, Miami corralled the loose ball on the wing with the clock ticking, but before they could do anything, they lost the ball themselves. Magner scooped it up and raced to the other end of the floor, but was fouled before he could make a layup.

Magner converted two free throws and the clock hit zero. The nearly 100 members of the football team in attendance stormed the court and hoisted Magner up on their shoulders.

“Cole did really well and kind of keyed our team,” Dakich said. “We were kind of not wanting the game to go to overtime, so luckily [Miami] missed a free throw and threw it away.”

Dakich praised Magner’s competitiveness more than anything. “Cole’s not a great physical athlete with jumping and quickness,” he said. “But he’s a competitive kid with enough strength and sense to do things. When you’re a competitive kid, you find yourself in situations to make plays, and that’s what Cole was able to do today.”

For Miami, Mason led the way with 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting. The story of the game for the RedHawks, however, may have been the non-factor Juby Johnson was. The junior guard is the team’s leading scorer this season, averaging 14.5 points per games heading into Saturday.

Johnson was held to nine points on 1-for-9 from the floor. “Their need for winning was greater than ours,” Miami coach Charlie Coles said of BG. “There’s no way you can have kids as hungry as a team trying to win the conference championship. One team is like ‘I can’t go outdoors tomorrow.’ The other team is like, ‘Maybe we can finish second.'”

Kent State’s loss to Akron keeps Miami in first place in the MAC East by one-half game with a week to play in the regular season.

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