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September 21, 2023

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Men’s basketball uses strong 2nd half to take down Cleveland State

On Tuesday night the Bowling Green Men’s basketball team didn’t have enough energy to earn a win at Dayton.

This time on Saturday afternoon the Falcons didn’t start with enough energy, but came out in the second half like a totally different team.

They put together one of their best halves of basketball this season outscoring Cleveland State University 43-26 on their way to a 67-57 win, their sixth of the season.

“It was crystal clear they were kicking our butts the first however many minutes,” said head coach Chris Jans. “It was probably our best crowd of the year and they got behind us a little bit. It was nice to be able to feel that and see our guys get excited.”

The Vikings were clearly the better team in the first half, leading by as much as 12. They were forcing bad shots and turnovers by the Falcons throughout the entire half.

Their physical play and pressure even led to what looked like a dog pile by the Vikings bench and turned into an eventual Falcon turnover. Guard JD Tisdale came out of the pile of about 10 players with his hands held high, as the CSU fans and players started clapping and cheering loudly.

“When you play Cleveland State that’s what you’re going to get. They are going to press you with different looks, they are going to trap you in the half court and they are relentless,” Jans said. “I didn’t think there was any way we would have a low turnover game, but 20 is too many especially when nine are from your point guards.”

It looked like the Vikings had all of the momentum after that scrum. Instead of carrying that momentum, they would score three points in the final five minutes of the half. Just like the Falcons did against Dayton, the Vikings peaked too early and from there it was all BG.

The Falcons ended the half on a five to zero run cutting the Viking lead to 31-24. Despite shooting 33 percent from the field and having 11 turnovers, Jans felt like they had some momentum going into the locker room.

“We made an adjustment at halftime to change the way we guarded the ball screens, which we haven’t done,” Jans said. “Sometimes it doesn’t work, fortunately the guys did an excellent job at adjusting.”

Early on in the second half it was easy to see that the Falcons accepted the adjustments the coaching staff wanted to implement. They held the Vikings scoreless in the first five minutes and 45 seconds. In that time they were able to take a 33-31 lead.

The game flip flopped back and forth for a few minutes, until Jehvon Clarke made two free throws to break the lead with 13:35 to go.

He followed that by scoring eight of the Falcons next 12 points including a flashy drive to the basket.

“That’s what Jehvon does. He can score the ball at a high rate,” Jans said. “It’s comforting as a coach to look down there when you start both halves and know that at some point you are going to put a guy in that can change the momentum of the game because of his offensive talent.”

Clarke’s drive was followed by a Zack Denny mid-range jumper, an alley-oop connection between Jovan Austin and Delvin Dickerson and two free throws free throws by Austin. After that series of plays the Falcons led 55-41.

All of that ended what was a 36-10 run for the Falcons, which extended back to the 3:59 mark in the first half.

“I thought those were big shots down the stretch,” Clarke who finished with 10 points said. “Being a senior those are shots that I have to knock down a lot more. I just did whatever I could do to better the team and make the right plays down the stretch.”

Holmes sealed the win and put the ugly first half out of everyone’s minds with an open windmill dunk, with 2:08 to go.

Holmes, Denny, Dickerson and Clarke were all in double digits in points. Holmes [15] and Denny [14] both had nine rebounds as well as the Falcons won the rebounding battle 42-31.

“Richaun always does a great job on the boards. There are times during the game that I think he is going to get every one,” Jans said. “I thought Zack Denny did a good job on the boards and he does it in practice. I thought he really helped out, he is a tough kid and willing to stick his nose in there and get some rebounds.”

The Falcons win moves their record to 6-2 and also gives them a 4-0 record at the Stroh Center.

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