KENT, Ohio - Mawel Soler pretended like Bowling Green State University had practiced free throws loads recently, but coach Dan Dakich confessed otherwise.
"I'm not even sure we've shot a free throw. We haven't shot free throws in so long, I couldn't even tell you," Dakich said.
The Falcons used a remarkable performance at the line last night for a 79-74 win over Kent State, previously unbeaten in the Mid-American Conference. BGSU made 34 of 35 free throws, including 26 straight to finish the game.
The 97.1 percentage was the best free-throwing shooting performance in Falcon history with a minimum number of attempts. Soler led the way, making all 13 of his attempts. He had 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
"We wanted to take every opportunity that was presented to us," Soler said.
The Falcons (8-10, 4-4 MAC) never trailed in the second half at the M.A.C. Center. Kent State tied the score at the 14:10 mark, but BGSU regained its lead on the next possession when Steven Wright made a 3-pointer, quieting the crowd of 4,126.
With 1:21 remaining, the Golden Flashes closed to within three, but the Falcons' free throw barrage quickly put the kibosh on a comeback.
"We beat a good team on their home court," Soler said. "Any win on the road is a big win."
Coming into the contest the Falcons were 1-4 in games decided by six points or fewer, with their most recent three league losses decided by a combined five points.
"This time, we were able to hang on to a lead as we went down the stretch," Dakich said. "That was a good win for us."
BGSU led by one point at the half despite 11 turnovers. The Flashes' first 11 points came off turnovers.
The Falcons then started playing a small, athletic lineup, partly because Matt Lefeld and Erik Marschall got into foul trouble. Soler and Martin Samarco played all but one minute, and freshman Brian Moten was in the game for a season-high 21 minutes.
The quick group frustrated the Flashes (13-6, 7-1) on offense. By comparison the Falcons shot 50 percent from the floor, including 7-of-13 on 3-pointers.
"We never got into a good rhythm offensively or defensively," Kent State coach Jim Christian said. "We've been making a living on getting consecutive stops, and I don't know if we got one."
The Flashes also struggled on free throws, shooting 25-of-38.
"A game like this, you've got to take advantage of your opportunities," Christian said.
Jay Youngblood, Kent State's leading scorer, was held to five points and fouled out with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Big man Kevin Warzynski had his second consecutive big game against the Falcons in a losing effort, scoring 25 points and grabbing eight rebounds. BGSU has now won two straight games in the Flashes' building.
Soler led four BGSU players in double figures: Samarco had 16, John Floyd 14 and Wright 13.
"We didn't waste a whole lot of possessions," Dakich said. "Against Kent you can't waste possessions because they're so good."
At the end of the game there was a brief scuffle between the teams but assistant coaches from each bench broke it up. The Falcons host Akron on Sunday.
NOTES: Marschall and Moon Robinson fouled out, the eighth time Marschall has left a game early. The Falcons are last in the country in fouls, averaging 24.5 a game coming into last night.
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