BG's Mawel Soler, left, and John Reimold fight for a loose ball with the Huskies' Paige Paulsen, bottom left, and Todd Peterson.
BOWLING GREEN - "Energy" players have earned that nickname because they bring exactly that to whatever game they are playing.
They play aggressive defense. They dive for loose balls. They hustle all over the court to make plays.
Mawel Soler has been an energy player for Bowling Green all season. But in the Falcons' 78-67 victory over Northern Illinois yesterday at Anderson Arena, Soler's energy resulted in points that helped BG claim its third straight Mid-American Conference victory.
"He stirs it up," Bowling Green coach Dan Dakich. "He plays with a lot of energy; he picks everybody up. If you hang around the ball, and you're as active as he is, a lot of times the ball comes into your hands and you score."
Soler's offensive contribution came with the Falcons leading 12-9 at the 12:58 mark of the opening half. He scored the game's next eight points, first by making a 3-pointer from the far corner at 12:32, then hustling downcourt to tip in a missed layup 32 seconds later.
Then following a timeout, Solar broke free for a layup, was fouled, and sank a free throw at 11:29 to push Bowling Green's lead to 20-9.
While Northern Illinois made several charges after that, they never were able to catch up as the Falcons improved to 9-2 and 3-0 in the Mid-American Conference. The Huskies fell to 5-7, 1-3.
"I thought I had to give the team a spark because we were struggling on offense," Soler said. "If I can take the [scoring] pressure off Josh [Almanson] and John [Reimold], it's going to open things up for them. I just took the shots that were there."
The Falcons' Steven Wright drives past Mike McKinney of Northern Illinois in the first half.
Soler finished with a season-high 10 points and was one of four BG players in double figures. Almanson and Reimold each had 21 while Steven Wright added 11 to key a BG offense that took advantage of its own hustle and Northern Illinois miscues to produce points.
The Falcons scored 21 points off the Huskies' 15 turnovers and used 12 offensive rebounds to produce 20 second-chance points.
"Coming out of the Marshall game, coach Dakich made a videotape of hustle plays that he liked," Almanson said. "We have to make those plays to win. We've got guys who make hustle plays, and that has won us games all year."
One play from that tape which stood out for Dakich came at halftime of the Marshall contest, when Reimold mistakenly launched a three-quarters court shot with 10 seconds to play. The tape showed Soler and Almanson hustling downcourt to attempt to corral the rebound.
"It wasn't just diving for loose balls," Dakich said of the tape. "It was screening on the back side to get somebody free. It was blocking a bigger guy out."
Plays such as those helped the Falcons build a 38-30 lead at halftime. They expanded the lead to 18 points when Germain Fitch's driving layup with 9:57 to play made the score 61-43.
BG's offense seemed to sag after that and Northern Illinois took advantage, cutting the lead into single digits in the final five minutes. But Reimold and Almanson each made some late shots to keep the Huskies at bay.
"Both [Almanson and Reimold] just made some daggers as the shot clock was winding down," Northern Illinois coach Rob Judson said. "Bowling Green does an excellent job of keeping their poise and getting a good look at the basket as the shot-clock winds down."
NOTES: The Falcons were 15 of 15 from the free-throw line. ... Bowling Green is 3-0 in league play for the fifth time in eight seasons under Dakich. ... The Falcons now have claimed victories over Northern Illinois in nine of the last 10 meetings of the two teams. ... Almanson finished with three blocked shots and has seven blocks in the last two games.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481.
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