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Anderson Arena win streak ends for Falcons

Anderson Arena has been a safe haven for the Bowling Green basketball team in recent years. No matter what trials they face on the road, at home a seismic student section could propel the Falcons over most anybody. BG was 364 days removed from their last loss at Anderson heading into Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois.

Saturday, however, the law of averages caught up with the Falcons and shook them. The home winning streak failed to reach a full year as BG fell 63-46.

It was the kind of game that ends a winning streak, an all-out flogging by a red-hot team.

Northern Illinois increased their winning streak to five games. They haven’t lost since a 64-63 home defeat to BG at the start of the month.

“I thought that Northern Illinois is really doing a good job,” BG coach Dan Dakich said. “When we played them a couple of weeks ago, they had lost by 30 at home, they had lost bad to Marshall, and we beat them on a buzzer-beater. But they have found a way to win.”

The Huskies capitalized on a sluggish Falcon team still overcoming possible shellshock from a 22-point loss at Western Michigan during the week. The Northern Illinois defense focused on hounding Kevin Netter and John Reimold, BG’s top two offensive players this year. The swarming zone defense forced turnovers, and a slow BG transition game allowed the Huskies some relatively uncontested lanes to the basket, plus second-shot opportunities.

“Today we tried to make a concerted effort to challenge every shot,” Northern Illinois coach Rob Judson said. “Our players had a very good focus on that.”

The Falcons weren’t any more vigilant getting back to the offensive end. Of their 10 rebounds in the first half, none were offensive.

BG’s ball handlers looked, on some occasions, downright groggy. Players were unable to cleanly corral passes and, on one occasion, a pass intended to find a cutting Reimold under the basket sailed behind him and out of bounds.

What hurt BG the most, however, was a stone-cold shooting game. Besides Netter and Reimold, no BG player converted more than one field goal in the game.

“Shots didn’t go in, and sometimes that just tightens you up,” Dakich said. “That’s what it seemed like it did to us. We missed some shots in the worst way, in and out.”

P.J. Smith and Marcus Smallwood led the offense for Northern Illinois with 20 and 11 points, respectively. The Huskies’ shooting percentage for the game wasn’t glowing at 42.9 percent, but they did exploit a step-slow BG team to the fullest, taking 26 foul shots, converting 22. Smith, Smallwood, Jamel Staten and Mike Morrison were all perfect from the line, a combined 17-for-17.

The Falcons were hit hard by foul trouble. Cory Eyink fouled out with less than three minutes to play, and Netter, Ryan and Jabari Mattox all had four fouls.

Despite the defensive pressure, Reimold wriggled free long enough to stroke five three-pointers. His 18 points were one of the few things that kept the game from getting totally away from BG. Netter fought through the clogged paint for 11 points. His first two field goals of the game were dunks, meaning that combined with last week’s game against Akron, five straight home field goals for Netter were of the slam variety.

The Falcons did have a brief infusion of life midway through the second half. A Mattox lay-up sparked an 11-0 run that cut an 18-point deficit to seven at 42-35. Then the Huskies scored the next five points and put the game out of question.

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