KENT, Ohio - Bowling Green State University's basketball team had played this type of game before. More than once in recent weeks, actually.
The Falcons build a lead, only to see the opposition come back for a victory in the final moments.
But yesterday, BG created a new ending. The Falcons scored seven of the final 11 points in a 77-73 win to snap Kent State's nine-game home-winning streak.
Bowling Green (14-7) remains tied for second-place in the MAC West with Toledo at 8-5, one-half game behind Western Michigan. The Golden Flashes (16-8, 8-5), who had beaten the Falcons in 10 of the last 11 meetings, saw a three-game winning streak end.
"We could have folded it up three times, and we didn't," BG coach Dan Dakich said. "We played really hard, and we kept our wits about us and kept our poise. It was a good win for us."
The Falcons jumped out to a 25-13 advantage before Kent State scored seven unanswered points to cut BG's lead to five with 4:56 to play in the first half. That was the first point where the Falcons could have folded. Instead, BG used a 10-7 finish to lead 35-27 at the break.
The Golden Flashes' second run was an 11-0 burst in a two-minute span midway through the second half for a 47-44 lead. Bowling Green responded with eight unanswered points and led 52-47 with 10:39 to play.
"Coach told us that was their run, so make sure that's all they get," said Josh Almanson, who scored 17 of his team-high 23 points in the second half. "We needed to keep playing our game, because we had played well to that point. And we played well afterwards."
Almanson scored seven straight BG points in one span late in the second half, including a rebound bucket with 4:35 remaining that gave him 1,000 points for his career. John Reimold added 19 points and Steven Wright had 15 points and seven assists.
There was one more push for the Falcons to weather, and it came when Kevin Warzynski - who scored all 23 of his points in the second half - hit a trey that tied the game with 4:05 to play.
But the Falcons were efficient on offense the rest of the way, scoring on all but one of their last eight possessions. The biggest shot was Almanson's 3-pointer that came with only one second left on the shot clock, giving BG a 70-66 lead with 3:01 left.
"I think the experience from the Ohio game and the Akron game back-to-back, where we were winning and just lost it down the stretch with bad plays, [helped us win today]," Almanson said. "[We needed to] handle the ball, and not fall asleep on defense."
The Falcon defense held the Golden Flashes scoreless for three straight possessions in the final minute. Cory Eyink came off the bench and allowed Warzynski only one shot, a crucial miss from the top of the key with 45 seconds to go.
"In the end our defense was really, really tough and really, really good," Dakich said. "Cory Eyink was a big part of that."
Not only was BG's win important because any MAC road win is vital, but it created positive feelings for a team that had lost three of its last four.
"[This win] says a little bit about our team," Almanson said. "Losing at Toledo, then having to come back and play at the hardest place to play in the MAC. It says a lot about our team. We kept our heads up and we kept fighting."
NOTES: The Falcons made only two turnovers in the final 12:29 of the game and finished with 13, three below their season average. ... Kent State's DeAndre Haynes, who has averaged more than 14 points per game against BG in his career, scored his team's first five points but only two more the rest of the way before fouling out with 45 seconds to play.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com or 419-724-6481.
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