HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Bowling Green State University held Marshall's high-scoring Ronald Blackshear in check, keeping him far from the basket and forcing the senior guard to miss key shots - until it counted most.
Blackshear scored the final two of his game-high 22 points on a short jumper from the lane with 25 seconds left, giving the Thundering Herd a 56-54 victory over the Falcons in a Mid-American Conference men's basketball game in front of 4,239 at Cam Henderson Center.
Marshall (10-10, 6-6 MAC East) won the battle of struggling teams, snapping a four-game losing streak. BG (10-10, 6-6 MAC West) lost its third in a row and fifth in its last six games. The loss was particularly hard for the Falcons, who led 54-47 with 4:31 left.
“I have to give Marshall a lot of credit,” Falcons coach Dan Dakich said. “They scored the last nine points of the game and shut us out.”
BG appeared in control with a seven-point lead late. The Falcons outplayed and outhustled Marshall but couldn't hold on as the Herd, content to shoot from the outside much of the night, made a late surge scoring from the paint. Monty Wright scored off an offensive rebound with 3:58 left and scored from the lane 53 seconds later to cut the Falcons' lead to 54-51 with 3:05 left.
David Anderson's free throw with 2:22 left brought Marshall within 54-52 and fired up a crowd that had been quiet through much of a sloppily played game.
BG missed a prime opportunity to seize back momentum with 1:48 left after Anderson fouled Ronald Lewis, but the Falcons were called for a lane violation, negating one free throw opportunity. When Lewis missed the second attempt, the Herd rebounded.
Blackshear tied the game at 54 with 1:27 left, hitting two free throws after he was fouled by Jabari Mattox. Dakich protested, to no avail, that Blackshear, who had lost the ball and sprawled headfirst into the lane, had walked before being fouled.
“That wasn't the game, but ...” Dakich said.
Blackshear scored the winning points with 25 seconds left, driving the lane and hitting his first field goal after seven consecutive misses.
Lewis, who finished with 18 points after scoring 14 in the first half, missed a 15-footer at the buzzer. Kevin Netter scored 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Falcons.
Bowling Green prevented Marshall from penetrating the lane much in taking a 34-32 halftime lead. The second half was a different story, as the Herd drove inside more often, drawing fouls in a game that featured 42. Eight players had at least four fouls each.
“The fouls softened us up a little bit,” Dakich said. “Marshall was able to drive and get some open shots. In the first half, they didn't do that as much.”
Dakich said his team played “tired,” especially in the second half.
“We were tentative with our shooting and we were short-arming shots,” Dakich said. “I could tell that both teams were tired, but Marshall was able to hang in, in the second half.”
Bowling Green's plan was to control the pace, which it did in the first half.
“We'd made a big emphasis after our last few games that we'd been shooting the ball too quickly, so we held the ball in the first half,” Dakich said. “In the second half, we looked like a team losing games.”
Marshall coach Greg White was pleased to come away with a victory, considering his team hit just 18 of 54 shots (33.3 percent). The Falcons hit just 17 of 42 (40.5 percent) and outrebounded the Herd 38-35. Bowling Green, though, was just 2-for-12 from 3-point range, while Marshall was 7-for-24.
“We just kept going to the basket and it worked out,” said Blackshear, who was backed by 13 points from Wright and 13 rebounds from Marvin Black.
Bowling Green's next game is Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Toledo.