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Falcons fight off Ball State

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BG's Josh Almanson rises over two Ball State defenders. Almanson scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

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BOWLING GREEN - The Bowling Green basketball team wasn't picky last night. It just wanted a win. After three straight double-digit losses to Ball State, the Falcons didn't care how they won.

Win ugly? No problem. Win with the opposition slowly, steadily, methodically cutting into the lead? Doesn't matter. And win with a crazy defensive stop in the game's final moments? That works, too.

It was a time to just win, baby, and that's what the Falcons did in a 70-69 heart-stopper over the Cardinals at Anderson Arena last night.

Bowling Green made a critical defensive stand in the game's final moments to escape with a victory that keeps the Falcons' atop the MAC's West Division at 15-7 overall and 9-5 in the league. Ball State has lost four in a row, falling to 12-10 and 7-7.

"For some reason we thought we had to make it interesting tonight," said BG's John Reimold, who finished with 28 points. "But we've been in close games before - the Akron game and the Ohio game at Ohio - and there was no way we were going to blow a lead like that down the stretch again.

"There was no doubt in my mind we were going to get that stop at the end."

The key exchange began with the Falcons clinging to a 67-66 lead but Ball State holding onto the ball with 23.5 seconds left. The Cardinals' Peyton Stovall drove to the basket and missed a running one-hander, but teammate Anthony Kent got the rebound and was fouled with 13.7 seconds to play.

Kent missed both free throws, but on the second miss Ball State's Terrence Chapman grabbed the rebound.

Chapman's layup attempt was blocked by Reimold. Steven Wright then grabbed the loose ball and threw it off Chapman's leg to give the Falcons possession with 9.2 seconds left.

"Steven Wright made a great play," Reimold said. "Steven didn't have a great night scoring, but a play like that is just a great play, a heads-up play that won the game for us."

After that defensive stand, Reimold was intentionally fouled and made two free throws. On the ensuing possession Reimold was fouled again and made the first of two free throws, giving BG a four-point lead that was sliced to one by Julien Mills' long 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"We just happen to get a ball bounce our way," said BG coach Dan Dakich said of the crazy finish. "We got a bounce at the end of the game, and it proved to be a game-winner."

It was a nail-biting finish to a contest that Bowling Green seemed to control throughout. The Falcons led by as many as eight late in the first half before taking a 33-27 lead at halftime thanks in large part to Reimold, who scored 14 in the half.

Two Reimold free throws at the 10:12 mark of the second half gave BG a 59-46 lead and seemed to give the Falcons command. But Ball State scored the next nine points and Bowling Green struggled to hold off the Cardinals the rest of the way.

"Sometimes getting up is bad because when guys relax, it's very difficult to get it back," Dakich said. "We were very, very fortunate to win."

Josh Almanson backed up Reimold's 28-point effort with 20 points and seven rebounds. Dennis Trammell made all seven of his shots from the field and led Ball State with 21 points.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6481.

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