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Published: Friday, 12/31/2004

Oakland snaps Falcons' 6-game winning streak

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

ROCHESTER, Mich. - Four days ago, Bowling Green State University basketball coach Dan Dakich foresaw last night's 77-53 loss at Oakland.

"Coach has been telling us that we've been slipping and it was going to come to a head if we didn't get it taken care of," said senior forward Josh Almanson, who finished with 14 points. "We found out tonight that we've got to be sharp every day."

The Falcons were anything but sharp at the O'Rena, and as a result they had a six-game winning streak snapped. BG fell to 6-2 on the season, while the Golden Grizzlies won for just the second time in 10 games.

On offense Bowling Green made only 28.6 percent of its shots from the field, including just 3 of 20 from behind the 3-point arc. The Falcons also committed 14 turnovers and were outrebounded 43-36 in scoring a season-low 53 points. Besides Almanson, Steve Wright was the only BG player in double figures with 15 points.

Meanwhile, Oakland shot 46.7 percent from the floor - the best by any BG opponent this season, and well above the 39.7 percent the Falcons had allowed their first seven opponents. As a result, the Golden Grizzlies rolled up the most points scored against BG this year.

Oakland had four players score in double digits, led by Kris Krzyminski's 15.

But the biggest disappointment to Dakich wasn't his team's play on offense or defense.

"I thought [they beat us] in effort, in energy," he said. "I thought they ran their offense and were more aggressive. We looked a step slow - we looked ankle-deep in floor.

"I can't tell you one area where I thought we competed."

The Falcons made just one of their first 11 shots to fall behind 14-2 just seven minutes into the contest. Midway through the half the Golden Grizzlies scored nine unanswered points to build a 26-9 lead, then used a late 10-3 run to expand their advantage to 20 points before settling on a 38-22 lead at the break.

It marked the first time this season that BG trailed at halftime. Those 22 points were the fewest first-half points this season for the Falcons, who came into the contest averaging 37.7 in the opening period.

"I thought [Oakland] came out with a real purpose and we didn't at all," Dakich said. "They just played harder. They were tougher. They beat us on the backboard. They beat us every which way and we didn't have an answer."

At the break BG was shooting just 25 percent from the field, and seniors Almanson and John Reimold - who came into the contest providing more than 35 points per game - had combined for just four. To make matters worse, the Falcons had committed 11 turnovers.

"We couldn't make a shot, we didn't play good defense, we were lazy," Almanson said. "We just weren't ready to play. It wasn't what we've been doing all year, and there's no excuse for it."

The Falcons scored the first eight points of the second half to try to make it a game, but they came no closer than seven the rest of the way. The last time the lead was in single figures was at the 11:07 mark, when Almanson made the first of two free throws to cut the lead to 49-40.

"But I didn't think that [comeback] was real," Dakich said. "I don't think we ever got a grasp of us guarding them. I don't think we were making them hurry the way we were making other teams that we played hurry."

The Golden Grizzlies outscored BG 28-13 from there.

"It's a positive that it didn't happen in the conference, but you worry that it's going to happen," Dakich said. "This will happen a lot if we don't play with energy, toughness and enthusiasm."

The Falcons open Mid-American Conference play Sunday against East Division favorite Buffalo.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.



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