BOWLING GREEN - It's come to this.
The Bowling Green State University men's basketball team is so depleted, it had to play zone defense.
Already missing two players because of academic eligibility issues and two because of injury in their season-opening tournament last weekend, the Falcons were without another player, center Matt Lefeld, in their home opener against Urbana yesterday.
"Right now, we're six kids short of where I thought we'd be when we met in the summer," BGSU coach Dan Dakich said.
Because of Lefeld's injury, the Falcons installed the defense this week to make sure they would make it through a game with five players. Dakich's team hadn't played zone in almost two years, when it was down to six scholarship players.
This time playing with seven of them, the Falcons used the defense for much of the first half against NAIA Urbana and the strategy was successful, as the Falcons won 85-50 in Anderson Arena.
"Our defense in this game was the difference," Dakich said.
After rampant fouling last weekend in the NABC Classic, the Falcons (2-2) had their lowest foul total this season with 21. Just one player, freshman forward Erik Marschall, fouled out, an improvement on the first three games.
Junior guard Martin Samarco led BGSU with 23 points in 24 minutes.
"He got good shots; I'm not sure he took a bad one," Dakich said.
Samarco shot 69 percent from the floor and made 4 of 5 3-pointers.
"[Dakich] preaches and teaches us to play hard on defense and then the offense will come easy," Samarco said.
Marschall added 16 and senior forward Mawel Soler had 14, both also recording high field goal percentages. Every available player scored and played at least eight minutes.
The Falcons never trailed, taking a 20-point lead into the half and extending it even further in the second half. Urbana (1-2) had just two points in the first 10 1/2 minutes of the game. After their 22-2 start, the Falcons made runs of 11-3, 9-2 and 12-2.
Lefeld, the Falcons' tallest player by four inches at 6-11, sat out the game with a bone bruise in his foot area, although
Dakich said the injury is still
"His X-rays will be read by a radiologist on Monday and we're hoping and praying that there isn't any type of fracture in there," Dakich said.
Junior Patrick Phillips played a career-high 20 minutes in Lefeld's absence.
The Falcons will play next on Nov. 30 at home against Oakland. Steven Wright and Dusan Radivojevic, the other two injured players, got their boots off and hope to be ready for that game. If Lefeld's injury is a bone bruise he will miss a week.
Although there weren't many negatives to take away from the game, Dakich said one point of emphasis in the next 11 days will be conversion defense.
Contact Maureen Fulton at: email@example.com or 419-724-6160.