Men’s basketball defeats Miami, to host first round MAC tournament game

Reporter and Reporter

While Miami did everything in its power in the second half to spoil BG’s heralded senior night Wednesday at the Stroh, the Falcons finished the game strong and bagged another Mid-American Conference win, 56-51.

It put the Falcons at 16-13 — 9-6 in the MAC — on the season and capped a successful February at 7-2: the program’s first seven-win month since December 2006.

Jordon Crawford paced the offense with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting. The point guard went 10-for-13 and scored 25 points the first time the teams met Jan. 18 in Oxford, Ohio.

“He shoots too good for us,” said Miami coach Charlie Coles.

A’ustin Calhoun was right at Crawford’s heels with 15 points. Senior starters Dee Brown and Scott Thomas added 11 and 10, respectively, and showed up late for the Falcons when the chips were down.

MAC leading scorer and rebounder Julian Mavunga had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the RedHawks. Joining the power forward in double-figure scoring, Drew McGhee had 13 points; Jon Harris, 11; and Quinten Rollins, 10.

After a 9-0 spurt from BG to begin the second half, Mavunga sparked a 16-2 response from Miami by scoring nine straight points. A triple from Rollins with 7:35 to go capped the surge and gave the RedHawks their first lead of the game since the 17:51 point in the first half, 43-41.

“Julian Mavunga was not very good the first half,” Coles said. “I thought he was the best player on the floor the second half.”

Mavunga tallied 12 of his points after the break.

Crawford stemmed the comeback with his third three-pointer of the night, and the Falcons retook the lead 44-43.

“I saw it was a 2-on-1 (on the other side) and I was hoping it was swung my way,” Crawford said. “The wing came up, and I was wide open and just had to knock down the shot.”

He was 3-of-5 from behind the arc.

Miami would score the next four points to go up by three before a Calhoun layup cut it to one with 5:09 remaining.

And then the seniors shone through.

Brown canned a trey on BG’s next possession to go up 49-47, and then Thomas drew a charge from Mavunga on the other end.

“The ball just ended up in my hands,” said Brown on the three-pointer. “Coach is always telling me to shoot it because I’m a shooter. I was struggling all game, so I just had to concentrate more and knock down open shots.”

But the finale came when Brown knocked down a 15-foot jumper, assisted by Thomas, from the right elbow to close the door on Miami.

“It creates a memory, but all and all the win is good enough for me,” Brown said.

The bucket capped a 9-2 run and gave the Falcons a 55-49 edge with 1:15 to go.

Mavunga recorded another layup, and Crawford sank a free throw to get to the final margin.

“Every game you play is not going to be your best game,” said BG coach Louis Orr. “But there is some point in that game where you got too close … Our guys stepped it up at the end and I’m happy for them.”

The Falcons shot 21-of-45 (47 percent) from the field, including 6-of-14 from three. They used a 14-9 rebounding edge in the first period to lead 30-27 at halftime.

A Kent State win over Ohio the same night eliminated BG’s chance at fourth place in the conference and a first round bye in the tournament. The Falcons will host a round one matchup Monday at 7 p.m. as either the fifth or sixth seed.