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April 18, 2024

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Off the Dribble: Falcons experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows

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Drake Harlett
Trey Thomas (1) shooting the ball from the arc

Once again, the Bowling Green men’s basketball team had quite an eventful week, full of highs and lows.  

The Orange and Brown started the week with their best win of the season, snapping a three-game losing streak with a 76-68 victory over the Toledo Rockets in the second round of the Battle of I-75 at the Stroh Center on Friday.  

“It’s a great rivalry. These are legacy-type games,” head coach Todd Simon said postgame. “We want the community to really embrace our guys and our team and program, and you do that by making this rivalry not a lopsided affair.”   

The win marked BG’s first against UT since Feb. 13, 2021, snapping a five-game losing streak against their rivals. The victory also marked BGSU’s first home win against the Rockets since Feb. 8, 2020.  

The Falcons shot 48.2% (27-56) from the field, 30.8% (4-13) on three-pointers and 85.7% (18-21) on free throws.  

While Toledo shot 45% (9-20) from beyond the arc, BG tightened their defense down the stretch, holding the Rockets to just 34.6% (9-26) shooting from the field in the final 20 minutes of the contest.  

BGSU also outrebounded UT 38-28 and scored 24 more points in the paint than their rivals.  

“That’s usually a great indicator of our success, is when we’re really dominating the glass,” Simon said. 

Many hoped and believed this victory would get the team back on track and give them the momentum they were desperately searching for as they entered the season’s homestretch.  

However, the result on Tuesday night said otherwise.  

With a chance to clinch a berth in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament with a win against Miami (OH) and a Ball State loss, the Falcons reverted to the team they had been during the three-game losing streak before the Toledo win, falling to the RedHawks 66-58.  

“It definitely hurts. We came into this game looking to win, of course, and trying to build on the momentum that we had,” senior guard Trey Thomas said postgame. 

To put it lightly, Bowling Green struggled to make baskets. 

“Tough game; obviously did some good things in terms of 20 offensive rebounds and only seven turnovers, but, you know, we have to be able to put the ball in the hole; that’s the bottom line,” Simon said. “We had tremendous scoring opportunities, and we didn’t score. You can’t go through a game that way…you put so much pressure on your defense when you’re not able to score.” 

The Falcons shot just 32.4% (23-71) from the field, 21.1% (4-19) on three-pointers and 61.5% (8-13) on free throws, their third-worst shooting performance from the field this season.  

“Obviously, we’re scoring challenged. That’s the reality of the deal; there’s not a lot of margin for error when you’re not a great shooting team,” Simon said. “So, when you’re not a great shooting team, you better be able to get to the line, and Miami did a great job of not putting us to the line. So, if you’re not going to get the free throw attempts, you have to really finish those layups.” 

Meanwhile, BG failed to contain Miami’s lethal offense.  

The RedHawks shot 45.8% (22-48) from the field, 52.9% (9-17) from beyond the arc and 72.2% (13-18) from the charity stripe.  

“I feel like it was just little defensive mistakes,” Thomas said. “We just weren’t really able to slow them down or stop them in any way to take control back of the game.” 

Although BGSU outrebounded MU 44-36, Miami locked down the paint, blocking a season-high nine Bowling Green shots.  

“We shot 50% [against Toledo], made all those shots around the rim. We got pretty much the same shots, if not more, and we didn’t convert,” Simon said. “That’s a real problem…You have to be able to score in halfcourt. It’s just as simple as it gets; we didn’t make them.” 

Junior guard Marcus Hill had an odd week, putting on one of his best and worst performances of the season in back-to-back games.  

Hill dominated against the Rockets, scoring 31 points in 39 minutes while shooting 11-24 from the field and 9-11 at the charity stripe. For his performance against the Midnight Blue and Gold, Hill earned his fourth MAC Player of the Week honor this season.  

However, the Rockford, Illinois, native got into foul trouble early and never found his touch against the RedHawks.  

Hill finished with eight points and three personal fouls in 33 minutes while shooting just 4-15 from the field against Miami. The outing marked the first time Hill failed to score double-digit points since Nov. 17 against Bellarmine.  

Senior center Jason Spurgin struggled in both games this week.  

The Toowoomba, Australia, native finished with a season-low two points on just one shot attempt in 19 minutes against the Rockets. Spurgin also grabbed just two rebounds while committing three personal fouls on Friday.  

Spurgin looked to be back in form at the start of the game against Miami, draining a three-pointer to begin the contest. However, he missed his final five shots from the field, finishing with just three points and four rebounds in 20 minutes.  

On the other hand, senior forward Rashaun Agee had an outstanding week.  

Agee dominated UT on Friday, finishing with 12 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals in 35 minutes of action.  

The Chicago, Illinois, native followed that up with his third straight and 14th double-double of the season against Miami, tallying a team-high 20 points, 14 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive boards, and two blocks.  

“He covers up a lot of our mistakes,” Simon said postgame after the Miami loss. “He really stepped up to cover up a lot of our deficiencies out there. He’s been doing that all year. We have to continue to get his touches up.” 

With just three games remaining in the regular season, this Bowling Green team sits in a weird spot.  

While they will most likely make the MAC Tournament, it is not a lock just yet.  

The Falcons (17-11, 8-7 MAC) are tied with Miami (14-14, 8-7 MAC) for fifth place in the MAC standings, while Kent State (14-14, 7-8 MAC) and Western Michigan (10-18, 7-8 MAC) are tied for seventh.  

Meanwhile, Ball State (14-14, 6-9 MAC) sits in ninth place on the outside looking in but is still in the hunt for a spot in the tournament.  

While it may seem like a lock that BG is making a trip to Cleveland for the first time since the 2020-2021 season, it is not a foregone conclusion just yet, especially when you consider the Falcons have been in a rut recently.  

Bowling Green has lost four of their last five and seven of their last 10 contests, free-falling in the conference standings.  

The final three regular-season games will be crucial for the Orange and Brown, not only for securing a spot in the conference tournament but also building momentum and fixing the holes in their games before they presumably head to Cleveland in a couple of weeks.  

After playing the past two contests at the Stroh Center, the Falcons will head on the road for the next two games.   

Bowling Green will travel to Athens, Ohio, to battle Ohio University on Friday before heading to Kalamazoo, Michigan, for a matchup against Western Michigan on Tuesday. Tip-off against the Bobcats is set for 6 p.m., while the Broncos and Falcons will tip-off at 7 p.m. 

For more stories related to BGSU Athletics, follow Falcon Media Sports Network on X (@bg_fmsn).

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