PEORIA, Ill. - In the words of Bowling Green men's basketball coach Dan Dakich, "It obviously hasn't been a real good week."
Last night against Bradley University, the Falcons managed to stay close early, but offensive struggles and a balanced Bradley attack eventually sent BGSU to a 93-64 defeat at Carver Arena.
"We just got dominated tonight," Dakich said. "And that's two games in a row, because Oakland did it in the second half [a 76-66 loss] on Wednesday night."
Bowling Green's first five possessions produced five turnovers. Despite the offensive struggles, the Falcons trailed just 6-5 at the first media timeout.
Those first four minutes set a pattern. The Falcons were able to do just enough to remain in the game.
But a 7-1 push by Bradley coming out of a timeout pushed the Braves' lead into double digits, 34-22. It remained there the rest of the half. Aiding Bradley were two things: a 16-11 deficit in fouls called and sophomore guard Jeremy Crouch.
The 16 Bowling Green fouls sent Bradley to the free-throw line 26 times. The Braves hit 21 of those 26 tries (81 percent).
"The foul trouble was because of a lack of aggression, not overly aggressive," Dakich said. "We were being reactive, not proactive. When you're reactive and the other team is more athletic, you're going to foul."
Crouch went 7-for-9 from the free-throw line. More importantly for Bradley, he broke out of a shooting slump by hitting three of four shots from beyond the arc in the first half.
Crouch totaled a career-high 18 points in just 13 minutes of first-half action.
Doing his best to match Crouch and keep BGSU in the game was junior guard Martin Samarco. He scored 16 first-half points, draining three of five 3-point attempts. He finished with 27 points on 9-for-20 shooting from the field.
BGSU limited Bradley's leading scorer, senior forward Marcellus Sommerville, to just two first-half points and nine total.
"They didn't need him tonight," Dakich said.
Bradley closed the first half on an incredible dunk by junior Zach Andrews. As time dwindled in the first half, Bradley guard Tony Bennett put up an air ball from the baseline. Andrews swooped in, leaping over 6-foot-2 BGSU guard John Floyd and dunking Bennett's errant attempt as time expired to put Bradley up 50-39.
The Braves carried the momentum from Andrews' finish into the second half, going on an 8-1 surge to open the period. The lead continued to grow until a left-corner 3-pointer by Bradley's Tony Bennett, who scored 16, pushed the lead to 65-45 with 16 minutes left in the game.
"I really felt that if we could get a handle on the game defensively in the second half, we would still be in the game," Dakich said. "But it was just easy basket, easy basket, easy basket."