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Published: Sunday, 2/20/2005

No Bracket bust, thanks to seniors

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Bowling Green's Steven Wright (32), Josh Almanson (2) and John Reimold surround an Arkansas-Little Rock shooter. Bowling Green's Steven Wright (32), Josh Almanson (2) and John Reimold surround an Arkansas-Little Rock shooter.
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BOWLING GREEN - Josh Almanson and John Reimold combined for 56 points to lead Bowling Green State University to its third straight win, a 74-66 victory yesterday over Arkansas-Little Rock.

What made the two seniors' production more impressive was the burdens each had to overcome in a Bracket Buster win at Anderson Arena.

Almanson, who finished with 27 points, took an elbow to the face late in the first half that knocked out a tooth and cut a hole in his lip.

Reimold, who led all scorers with 29 points, struggled with his shot in the first half, then was burdened with four fouls in the game's final nine minutes.

"Reimold and Almanson bailed us out, like the All-Americans they have been," BG coach Dan Dakich said. "I've never said that about them, but that's what they've been all year.

"If college basketball was even across the board in terms of people choosing teams based on reality and not perception or television, those two would be All-Americans. Today, they were great."

BG (16-7) snapped a four-game winning streak by the Trojans (16-9).

Richard Hardman led Arkansas-Little Rock with 27 points and 12 rebounds. Brandon Freeman added 17 points.

In the first half it was Almanson who carried the Falcons, scoring 15 of BG's first 27 points as the Falcons were building a 32-12 lead with 5:24 to play.

"I felt good, got some early looks and knocked them down," he said. "I was getting open and people were finding me. They were leaving me wide open and I don't see that too often in the conference. It was a pleasant surprise."

Almanson finished with 17 in the half, including a baseline jumper just before halftime - and after he took the elbow to the mouth.

"I thought he was really tough in the second half," Dakich said. "Josh has just become a tough guy. I didn't even know he had his tooth knocked out. "

The Falcons' lead had been whittled to 34-21 at the break because Arkansas-Little Rock, which made just 4 of 16 from the field to start the game, scored nine unanswered points before Almanson's buzzer-beater.

In the second half the Trojans, who struggled in the first, suddenly couldn't miss. They made 13 of 17 from the field to tie the score at 56 with

7:40 to play.

"I'm a little upset that we had a 20-point lead at home, we're playing pretty good, and we let the whole thing get away," Dakich said. "Sometimes we can't stand prosperity. But if any team in America knows a team can come back, it should be us."

Reimold picked up where Almanson left off.

Reimold, who had scored all but four of BG's first 18 points of the second half, made a pair of free throws with 3:51 left to break the tie, then connected on a 15-foot jumper from the wing that gave the Falcons a four-point cushion.

The Falcons forced Arkansas-Little Rock to miss six straight shots after the tie, while Reimold scored 12 points in those final three minutes despite the four fouls. The senior had 26 points in the second half alone.

"Coach asked me if I could stay in without fouling, and I said, 'Yes, please leave me in because you can trust me,' " Reimold said. "I wasn't going to foul. I gave up a couple of baskets late, but I wasn't going to foul."

Reimold made 6 of 8 from the floor in the second half, including 2 of 3 from behind the 3-point arc, and connected on all 12 of his free-throw attempts after struggling with his shot in the first half.

"My outside shot wasn't falling, but I really concentrated on going to the low post and getting baskets that way," Reimold said. "My teammates did a great job of passing the ball to me down there."

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.



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