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Bowling Green men’s basketball defeats Central Michigan 66-56, setting up semifinal showdown with Kent State

Cleveland, OH – Falcons Senior Guard Trey Thomas (1) putting the Bowling Green sticker on the Bracket to show they are moving on at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio

The Bowling Green men’s basketball team (20-12, 10-8 MAC) defeated Central Michigan (18-14, 12-6 MAC) in the first round of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio, on Thursday, 66-56.  

“Really proud of these guys; I thought it was just a gritty performance. We talked about in these tournaments, tough teams win,” BGSU head coach Todd Simon said postgame. “We did a lot of the tough things really well.”  

The victory is the Falcons’ first in the conference tournament since 2019 and marks BG’s first 20-win season since the 2019-2020 campaign and the ninth in the program’s MAC era.  

“You get the first one under your belt. That’s always important when you’re playing in unfamiliar territory, an arena you haven’t been in before. Any tournament, you want to get the first one under your belt because very few first tournament games are ever pretty,” Simon said. “Now we get back to the grind, we exhale and we’ve already turned the page.”  

After missing the MAC Tournament the past two seasons, Bowling Green is now just two wins away from their first MAC Tournament Championship.  

“We’re just enjoying the moment and enjoying being here to play basketball,” senior forward Rashaun Agee said postgame. “A lot of people don’t get to play basketball or coach basketball; we’re just blessed to be here. I felt like that’s the difference: we’re all thankful and understand that everybody doesn’t get to do this.”  

FIRST HALF  

Central Michigan started fast, making four of their first five shots before jumping out to an early 10-4 lead.  

However, the Falcons responded with an 8-0 run, taking a 12-10 lead halfway through the first half.  

After an extended period of back-and-forth action, which saw the teams trading shots, BGSU went on a 10-0 run, holding a 26-23 lead with just under a minute-and-a-half remaining in the half.  

But CMU closed the half on a 5-0 run, capped by a buzzer-beating three-pointer, taking a 28-26 lead into halftime.  

The Chippewas shot 37.9% (11-29) from the field and 33.3% (4-12) on three-pointers in the first half.  

Meanwhile, the Falcons shot just 29.4% (10-34) from the field and 18.2% (2-11) from beyond the arc through the first 20 minutes of the contest.  

SECOND HALF  

The teams battled back and forth for much of the beginning of the second half, with Central Michigan only being able to extend their advantage to four points.  

Bowling Green started to pull away midway through the half, going on a 9-2 run and taking a 50-47 lead with just under eight minutes remaining.  

The Chippewas continued to battle, tying the game three more times but failing to take another lead.  

However, Bowling Green executed late, closing the game on an 11-0 run and scoring the final six points of the contest to secure the 10-point victory.  

The Falcons are now 18-0 this season when leading with two minutes remaining.  

REVIEW OF THE GAME  

Both teams had similar offensive numbers, with BG shooting 36.7% (22-60) from the field and 35% (7-20) on three-pointers and Central Michigan shooting 37.3% (22-59) from the field and 33.3% (8-24) from beyond the arc.  

However, the Falcons shot 78.9% (15-19) on free throws, while CMU reached the charity stripe just six times.  

“That’s kind of our identity; we’re not a fouling team. We believe in defensive discipline, and so we don’t like to foul. But we’re also an attacking team on the other end of the floor,” Simon said. “So, that’s an important deal that we think translates to tournament wins, and hopefully that will continue to be a factor for us.”  

BGSU also dominated the boards, outrebounding Central Michigan 51-28 and grabbing 12 more offensive rebounds than the Chippewas.  

Senior guard Trey Thomas led Bowling Green with 20 points, shooting 5-10 from the field, 4-8 on three-pointers and 6-6 on free throws.   

“That’s the Trey we know. I feel like every time he shot it all year, we thought it was going to go in,” Simon said. “We trust him. He’s a calming presence for us and a fantastic player.”  

Thomas scored BG’s final 11 points, icing the contest for the Falcons.  

“I just continued to stay confident,” Thomas said postgame. “My teammates and my coaches instilled confidence in me during the game, and once I saw one go through, I knew that the rest were good.”  

Agee also had a dominant outing, tallying his 17th double-double of the season, finishing with 13 points and a career-high 17 rebounds.   

“There are few people probably anywhere who continue to improve like Rashaun does. That’s what people don’t talk about; is his trajectory just continues to go up and up and up as a player,” Simon said. “It was an absolute special performance, particularly in the first half when we were struggling, he kind of kept us in it.”  

Junior guard Marcus Hill, a first-team All-MAC selection, tallied 11 points, six rebounds and three assists while shooting just 4-16 from the field.  

“He does so much more than scoring, but if I was a betting man, I wouldn’t say that he’s going to have two off games in a row,” Simon said. “Usually, he bounces back and can catch fire in a minute.”  

Meanwhile, senior forward Sam Towns, who missed much of the regular season due to injury, added 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench.  

“He goes down after being in the starting lineup; could’ve shut it down. He sat down, we had a heart-to-heart, and he said, ‘I want to win with this team.’ That’s special; that’s really, really special because he sacrificed so many games when he really could’ve had every excuse to add another year to his career,” Simon said. “He wanted to fight with his brothers, so he chose to come back.”  

Although he scored just five points, senior center Jason Spurgin reached 1,000 career collegiate points.  

“Jason’s a winner. He’s got 87 wins now with us in four years. He says the right things, a great leader. Another guy that’s battling and giving everything he has for Bowling Green with the injuries and things that he’s gone through this year,” Simon said. “But he just wants to win.”  

NEXT UP  

Bowling Green is set for a semifinal matchup against the Kent State Golden Flashes on Friday.  

Falcon Media Sports Network’s Tyler Kavalecz and Artie Abrego will have the call from Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on Falcon Radio at 4:45 for pregame and 5 p.m. for tip-off. 

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

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Tyler Kavalecz, Sports Production Director

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