Bowling Green's Josh Almanson grabs a rebound that eludes Toledo's Florentino Valencia last night at Anderson Arena. Almanson scored 10 points as the Falcons rallied from a 34-17 first-half deficit.
BOWLING GREEN - In the first half, the Bowling Green men's basketball team couldn't do anything right.
In the second half, only one thing went wrong for the Falcons: Germain Fitch nearly got injured in the postgame celebration as BG overcame a 17-point halftime deficit to beat Toledo 70-69 in front of 4,708 fans at Anderson Arena.
"We were obviously awful in the first half and we were great in the second half," said Falcon coach Dan Dakich. "Fortunately, for this game a half was good enough to win the game."
The win snapped Bowling Green's two-game losing streak as the Falcons improved to 11-4 overall and 5-2 in the Mid-American Conference, one game behind MAC West Division leader Western Michigan.
Meanwhile, Toledo saw its two-game winning streak end and fell to 7-8 and 3-3.
Bowling Green looked dead and buried in the first half as Toledo used 17 Falcon turnovers to build a 34-17 advantage. But in the second half BG scored a season-high 53 points, thanks to 19-of-25 shooting from the floor, to jump out of the grave and get back into the contest.
The Falcons took the lead for good with 28.1 seconds to play when Fitch's layup off a feed by John Floyd provided the final one-point margin.
"I got an opening and [Keith] Triplett came over to double-team me," Floyd said of BG's last basket. "Again, Fitch was in the right spot at the right time to bail me out. I'm just glad Fitch finished it."
Under heavy pressure from a few Bowling Green players, Toledo guard Justin Ingram taks the final shot of the game - a 3-pointer that failed to go in. Ingram finished with 11 points.
On Toledo's last possession BG double-teamed Triplett, forcing him to pass to Justin Ingram. Ingram's baseline 3-pointer bounced away at the final buzzer, capping a Falcon win similar to the Jan. 2, 1999 game here.
In that contest BG came back from a 16-point halftime deficit and posted a 70-64 victory.
"At the timeout, everyone said, 'Don't be the guy who lets your man score,' " said senior Josh Almanson, who had 10 points. John Reimold led the Falcons with 17, all but three coming in the second half. Fitch had a career-high 12 points while Steven Wright added 13.
Triplett led Toledo with 26 points while Ingram was the Rockets' only other double-figure scorer with 11.
The first half belonged to Toledo, which went on a 14-1 run early to build leads of 23-10 and 32-15. The Falcons' 17 turnovers in the opening half led to 19 Rocket points.
Dakich said he didn't mince words when talking to his team at the break.
"I told them the truth: we looked scared, we had quit on playing well, we looked impatient, we looked intimidated in our own gym," Dakich said. "Those points took 15 minutes, with plenty of bad stuff in between.
"I don't know any coach who would walk into the locker room at halftime after that performance and say, 'Golly gee boys, lets hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and this stuff is going to turn out all right."
The Falcons turned it around quickly in the second half, thanks to the noisy crowd that nearly raised the Anderson Arena roof. BG outscored Toledo 23-3 in the first seven minutes of the second half.
"If that [game] is in a closed gym, we lose. And it's not even close," Dakich said. "Even if we get off to that [second-half] start, in a closed gym we don't win. Without that crowd, this game is over at halftime."
In that span the Rockets went 1-of-8 from the floor and committed four turnovers while not forcing a single BG miscue.
"In the second half we played differently," said Toledo coach Stan Joplin. "We played well in the first half, but in the second half we relaxed and made mistakes.
"In the second half we had some breakdowns, they got their confidence going, and that basically was it."
Bowling Green led by as many as eight points when the second of back-to-back treys by Reimold gave the Falcons a 65-57 lead with 5:25 to play. But the Rockets bounced back and led by one point twice in the final minute before Fitch's final basket left the crowd, and Floyd, gasping for breath.
"[I feel] overjoyed, " Floyd said. "[The game] was so up-and-down. We spent so much energy getting that lead, and they made some big shots to tie it back up. I'm just glad we finished on top. It was an emotional game for both teams."
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481.