Falcons fall in second round of MAC Tournament

Most of the time when the Falcons needed a defensive stop in Wednesday night’s MAC Tournament matchup against Eastern Michigan they got it.

But while Bowling Green’s first shot defense was good, it wasn’t until it came time for them to box out that things went bad.

Eastern Michigan didn’t shoot the ball particularly well shooting 39 percent from the field [24-61], but their two guards Mike Talley and Raven Lee carried them. Talley and Lee combined for 48 points in route to defeating the Falcons 73-67.

“It wasn’t like we weren’t guarding them because we were,” said head coach Chris Jans on the topic of EMU’s guards. “Our first stop defense was pretty good. We just couldn’t secure enough defensive rebounds and that just deflates you.”

The Falcons inability to box out led to EMU totaling 35 rebounds and 18 offensive rebounds, but that is only one of the things that doomed the Falcons. Their 15 turnovers also played a big part in their second round loss Wednesday night.

“In the end we just couldn’t keep them off the backboards,” Jans said. “18 offensive rebounds is a recipe for a loss and we had too many turnovers as well.”

It was the case all game long, EMU would miss the first shot and somehow the ball would end up back in their hand for a second and sometimes third opportunity.

No second chance point was more important than the points they got with 20 seconds to play. The Falcons were trailing by four points and after a Jehvon Clarke turnover the Falcons forced, EMU forward Karrington Ward to miss a jumper.

Instead of BG getting the rebound and having a chance to cut the lead, EMU got yet another offensive rebound and center Olalekan Ajayi knocked down two free throws to seal the win.

“They were aggressive they went to the offensive glass hard and they got them,” said All-MAC forward Richaun Holmes. “We didn’t check out hard enough, they had a rebounding mindset and they went out and executed it.”

Holmes, who was a game time decision Wednesday, led the Falcons with 18 points, with 16 of those coming in the first half.

It didn’t take Holmes long to get started as he scored the Falcons first seven points of the game. Clarke, who finished with 18 points as well, nailed a jumper to put the Falcons up 9-8 early on.

But for the next six minutes each team kept the game close. That was until the Falcons, who were trailing 21-18 at the time went on a 9-0 run.

The score was 27-21 in favor of the Falcons when EMU head coach Rob Murphy called a timeout. That timeout led to EMU countering that run with a 9-0 run of their own, giving them the lead 30-27 with 6:47 to play.

That EMU run changed the flow of the game, Jans said.

“We had that patch in the game where we were up six and it was right before a media,” Jans said. “They went on a 9-0 run and the game changed quickly … for me that was the section of the game where we lost that flow and that edge.”

EMU carried that momentum into halftime leading 40-39. Eagles guards Talley and Lee combined for 29 of their halftime 40.

The second half started the same as the first, with a Richaun Holmes basket, but that would end up being his one and only shot of the half.

Murphy praised Ajayi for his defense on Holmes in that half.

“They were really physical and I just couldn’t get it going in the second half,” Holmes said.

From there the game remained close, but the Falcons never could take control of the game, because of their inability to rebound on the defensive end.

The Falcons end the season with a 20-11 record, but they have accepted a bid to play in the CollegeIndsider.com Postseason Tournament.

“Credit to our guys and credit to our coaches, coach Jans … I’m glad to be with him and experience 20 wins with him,” Clarke said. “We are still going to play with a chip on our shoulder, we are still going to compete. We are still going to treat each day like it’s a championship day.”