Efficient Rockets pull away to win round one of Battle of I-75


Drake Harlett, FMSN

Leon Ayers III drives to the basket in the first half

Jaydon Romero, Sports Reporter, FMSN

Bowling Green Men’s Basketball fought hard but fell to the rival Toledo Rockets in round one of the Battle of I-75 at John F. Savage Arena last night, 91-77. 

To begin the game, the Falcons and Rockets engaged in a good defensive battle with both teams unable to pull away from each other early on.

In front of a hostile crowd, Leon Ayers III was unfazed, as he lead the Falcons in scoring with 21 points, his fifth consecutive game scoring 20 or more. Also, in the first quarter, Ayers broke the 1,000 point mark for his career.

Rashaun Agee was putting on a show in the first half by attacking the basket with two huge slams that helped swing some momentum to the Falcon sideline. Agee and Ayers provided the offensive spark the Falcons needed in the first half, combining for 22 points.

Unfortunately for the Falcons, Toledo played great defense, racking up nine total steals and forcing 15 BG turnovers. The end of the half did not treat the Falcons well as the Rockets began to pull away as the ball was not bouncing Bowling Green’s way.

Toledo took a 41-31 lead into halftime

The beginning of the second half did not treat the Falcons well. Toledo came out the gates firing, with every shot the Rockets took seemingly finding the bottom of the net. As nothing was going BG’s way, Toledo kept revving the engine, putting the Falcons in a deep hole. RayJ Dennis and Setric Millner jr. led the scoring for the Rockets, each putting up 21 apiece.

Towards the middle of the second half, the momentum switched over to the Falcon sideline. After Agee picked up his fourth foul, Gabe O’Neil checked into the game and put four quick points up for the Falcons, while playing some solid defense. Bowling Green began to mount a comeback, cutting Toledo’s 20-point lead down to nine. 

Momentum was a huge factor in this game. While the Falcons fought hard to mount a comeback, Toledo made key shots down the home stretch of the game, growing their lead back up to 16 points with little time left to play. The Falcons tried their best to complete the comeback, but Toledo hit shots when they needed it most, taking the first of two Battle of I-75 matchups in the regular season. 

At the end of the day, turnovers made the difference.

“We were so careless with the ball,” head coach Michael Huger said. “Passes that weren’t there that we tried to make. We tried to throw and thread the needle and things like that led to our turnovers and them going out in transition. They were definitely unforced turnovers and we have to do a much better job of taking care of the ball.”

The Falcons are set to return home and welcome the Ball State Cardinals to the Stroh Center on Tuesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

For more information about the team, visit the athletics webpage.