Bowling Green's Martin Samarco soars over a pair of Eastern Michigan defenders.
BOWLING GREEN - This time, Bowling Green State University was the team looking over its shoulder.
The Falcons, who never trailed Eastern Michigan last night and led by as many as 18 points, all of a sudden found themselves in a close game with two minutes left.
Despite not making a basket in the final five minutes, 21 seconds, BGSU hit enough free throws and got a final stop to pull out a 73-71 win.
The Falcons improved to 9-13, 5-7 in the Mid-American Conference.
"I'm happy to win so you don't wake up sick as a dog tomorrow," BGSU coach Dan Dakich said.
BGSU made seven of 10 free throws in the final two minutes to ensure it wouldn't be the fourth consecutive loss at Anderson Arena. Martin Samarco led the Falcons with 20 points and Steven Wright had 17.
"We've been working on [free throws] all weekend and all week, because our games have been very close," Wright said.
The Eagles cut the Falcons' lead to one with 13 seconds left on Carlos Medlock's reverse layup. Wright then made one of two free throws, and Moon Robinson defended Medlock's last-second shot, which was short. EMU fell to 5-15, 2-10.
The Falcons led by 14 with seven minutes left, but no one could stop John Bowler. One of the top post players in the league, Bowler had just two first-half points and five rebounds. In the second half, he scored 18, and finished the game with 17 rebounds. Matt Lefeld and Erik Marschall both fouled out in the process of guarding him.
"John didn't score a field goal in the paint in the first half, that's unacceptable," EMU coach Charles Ramsey said. "When he goes into the paint good things happen."
Samarco began the game by making three 3-pointers to help the Falcons come out fast. BGSU quickly lengthened its lead, both because of a slick offense and EMU's uncertainty on both ends of the floor.
Even when the Eagles threatened to get within single digits near the end of the period, the Falcons ended with energy on Wright's fast-break dunk in front of 1,354 fans.
But not since the win over Kent State had the Falcons played consistently well for an entire game. In recent games, the first half had been the problem, last night it was the second half.
"I told them at halftime, imagine what's going on in their locker room, it's the same thing that goes on in our locker room when we're down 13 at half," Dakich said.
Several missed close shots prevented BGSU from extending its lead, and a press the Eagles administered caused the Falcons problems. It wasn't the momentum Dakich hoped for heading into a game with Toledo
"An eight-point lead with 1:09 to go, you've got to win by 12 or 15," Dakich said. "We just can't get out of our own way."
Medlock, a freshman, led the Eagles with 22 points. He was in foul trouble for part of the second half but was key to EMU's threat at the end.
NOTES: Robinson had four steals in the first half. . .. The Falcons are 4-3 against the MAC West division. . . . BGSU is 37-7 since the 2000-01 season when it shoots 50 percent or better from the field. . . . Junior Patrick Phillips started the game in place of Marschall, his second start this season.