LITTLE ROCK - Looking like a team missing a gear, the Bowling Green State University men's basketball team never found a comfortable speed yesterday. As a result, the Falcons fell to Arkansas-Little Rock 68-60 before a crowd of 2,592 at the Stephens Center.
"I don't think we were ever in sync today," said BGSU coach Dan Dakich. At one time in the second half when they switched to a zone we hit three straight shots, but after that we missed three straight. It just wasn't there.
"But I will say this, anytime you have 15 turnovers in half, on any level, that is not going to win."
The gear the Falcons (2-5) were missing was leading scorer Martin Samarco, who was serving a one-game suspension for being late for a team bus.
"Any time you have distractions is it not good," said Dakich, whose team lost to UALR (4-3) for the first time in four tries.
"Some of the things we have been running in practice, he [Samarco] was the only one who has been able to score. Today we had to have some other guys step up."
Bowling Green did have Steven Wright for the first time this season. The senior guard, who has been out with a stress fracture, played 24 minutes and scored seven points.
The Falcons never led and never got any closer than two points.
All of that came after a brief skirmish with 18:17 left. Mawel Soler and UALR's Buddy Harding were on the floor in a battle for the ball. Behind them, UALR's Zack Wright swung wildly at another Falcon, but missed everything.
Double technicals were charged to Soler and Harding. Wright, UALR's best player, was ejected.
"I thought their team handled the next two or three minutes better than we did," said UALR coach Steve Shields. "We seemed a bit skittish."
At the time of the incident, UALR led 29-24. A little more than three minutes later the Falcons had narrowed the margin to 32-30 on Matt Lefeld's inside basket.
The Trojans then produced a 9-1 run, sparked by four points from Elijah Muldrow. The Trojans' largest lead came at 52-37 with 9:13 left.
Lefeld led the Falcons with 17 points, and Erik Marschall added 10. John Floyd had eight points and six assists.
"It was a tough, physical game," said Dakich. "We play that way and they play that way. It is how the game is played these days."
UALR led by as many as 12 in the first half, and by 27-21 at halftime.
"I thought the key elements in the game were turnover margin, rebounding margin and being able to make more free throws than they attempted," said Shields. "We felt like coming in we had to do well in those areas to win the game."
UALR did well in all three. The Trojans won the rebounding battle 36-25, the turnover margin 20-14 and made 33 free throws in 46 attempts.
Bowling Green was 11-of-16 from the line.
The Trojans were paced by Muldrow and Lekheythan Ma-lone with 14 points each. Rashad Jones-Jennings and De'Andre Eggins scored 12 each. Jones-Jennings had 14 rebounds.
The game was a rematch of last year's ESPN's Bracket Buster played in February at BGSU. In that game, the Falcons won 74-66 over a UALR team that won its second straight Sun Belt Conference East Division title.
The Falcons are off until Saturday when the play Florida State in the Coors Classic in Mobile, Ala.