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Kent State men’s basketball defeats Bowling Green in semifinals 73-60, advances to third straight conference championship 

Cleveland, OH – Falcons senior Sa’Shawn Phillip (5) just getting over a Golden Flashes defender at the 3 point line at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

The Bowling Green men’s basketball team’s (20-13, 10-8 MAC) season came to and at the hands of Kent State (17-16, 8-10 MAC) on Saturday, falling to the Golden Flashes in the semifinal round of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Tournament, 73-60.  

“Not the result we wanted, but we played tough. We did a lot of good things, making free throws and taking care of the ball. Just couldn’t get shots to fall, and they caught fire. They probably had the best shooting night of the season at the right time,” BGSU head coach Todd Simon said postgame. “Guys just put them on their back, and hats off to them. Couldn’t be more proud of this group.”  

Although the Falcons will not advance to the conference tournament, it was still a successful campaign for the Orange and Brown, who missed the tournament the past two seasons.  

“I feel like [this year] meant a lot,” senior forward Rashaun Agee said. “Just being able to get here and start BGSU up again and let people know we’re not here just to be in the MAC; we’re here, we’re here on the up and we’re going to keep getting better.”  

Simon and the Falcons established a new culture at Bowling Green while battling adversity all season.  

“To lose Jamai Felt in September and lose DJ Smith, who has got 79 college starts under his belt and shoots it, and all the injuries in between, we got a lot out of this group, and you can lay your head at night saying that we maximized a lot of potential out of a group. I think somebody told me that out of the restart programs, there are only three that went from 20 losses to 20 wins. So, that’s a heck of an accomplishment for these guys.”  

FIRST HALF  

Junior guard Marcus Hill started fast, scoring Bowling Green’s first seven points and giving the Falcons an early 7-3 advantage.  

BG held the lead until Kent State jumped ahead with just under 12 minutes remaining in the half, 14-13.  

The teams would continue battling and vying for the lead over the next few minutes.  

However, the Golden Flashes went on an 8-0 run late in the first half, extending their lead to 10 points with just over three minutes remaining in the period, 32-22.  

Hill ended the half with a layup, cutting KSU’s lead to 34-28 heading into the locker rooms at halftime.  

SECOND HALF  

After the teams went back and forth to start the second half, the Falcons cut Kent State’s lead to just three points with just under 13 minutes remaining, 45-42.  

However, the Golden Flashes scored five unanswered points, pushing their lead back to eight.  

Although BG cut the deficit back to six points, KSU scored five unanswered again, extending their lead to 11 points halfway through the second half, 55-44.  

While the Falcons continued to fight, they could only cut the deficit back to six points, as the Golden Flashes took complete control of the contest, pulling ahead by 15 at one point en route to securing the 13-point victory.  

REVIEW OF THE GAME  

Kent State could not miss, shooting 51.9% (26-51) from the field, 66.7% (12-18) on three-pointers and 56.3% (9-16) on free throws.  

Meanwhile, the Falcons struggled offensively, shooting just 37.7% (20-53) from the field, 20% (4-20) from beyond the arc and 94.1% (16-17) from the charity stripe.  

Kent State also controlled the boards, outrebounding BG 33 to 29.  

Hill, Agee, senior center Jason Spurgin, senior guard Trey Thomas and senior forward Sam Towns all got in foul trouble during the contest, making it hard for BG to complete the second-half comeback.  

“Trey and Rashaun pick up two early in the first half. Now, all of a sudden, you’re going longer stretches with DaJion, Sam and EJay,” Simon said. “Really impacts the rotation. It really kind of shifted the game a little bit when we had to get kind of out of sorts.”  

Junior guard Jalen Sullinger and redshirt senior guard Giovanni Santiago ran the offense for Kent State, playing the entire 40 minutes.  

Sullinger led the Golden Flashes with 22 points and five assists, shooting 7-15 from the field and 5-7 from deep.  

Santiago added 20 points and a team-high six assists, shooting 6-8 from beyond the arc.  

Hill rebounded after a quiet performance in the quarterfinals, leading Bowling Green with a team-high 22 points, shooting 9-18 from the field and 2-5 on three-pointers.  

“They were certainly keying on him, trying to build walls and make it tough on him, and he’s such a competitor. He had a tough defensive matchup as well, and he competes on that end of the floor,” Simon said. “He leaves every ounce that he has on the floor, and you just respect the heck out of that for him.”  

Agee was the only other Falcon to reach double figures, finishing with 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds.  

While Bowling Green’s season is over, Simon believes the Falcons accomplished a great deal in this year’s campaign.  

“I’m not a big goal setter for teams; if we schedule 31 games, I want to win all 31. You kind of set out at the beginning of the year, and you don’t really know what to expect, but I think if you rewind and you put it in more of a historical context, I think it’s a top-10 season from a win standpoint in our program since joining the MAC. Won a postseason game, the first time in, I think, five years, I was told. Kind of blended a lot, a couple of all-conference players; we’ve kind of done something that you can build off of,” Simon said. “If you can’t be appreciative as a fan of what these guys do from an energy and effort standpoint, it’s going to be hard to be satisfied because this group just gives everything they got. Those are the things you’re going to look back on and see the legacy of the team.” 

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Tyler Kavalecz, Sports Production Director

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