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Published: Sunday, 12/3/2006

Samarco s buzzer-beater bails out BGSU


BOWLING GREEN It was the least Martin Samarco could do.

Bowling Green State University was up 11 over Troy with 2 minutes to play yesterday, until a mini-meltdown ensued. Samarco, the Falcons senior star, made some unfortunate contributions to it, turning the ball over three times and missing two free throws.

But Samarco didn t become the returning leading scorer in the Mid-American Conference without a sweet shooting touch.

Samarco s jumper from the corner off his right foot at the buzzer gave the Falcons their second consecutive last-second victory 71-69.

It feels really good, because late in the game I should have hit both those free throws and basically sealed the game away, Samarco said.

The Falcons had turned a six-point halftime lead into a steady 8 or 9-point advantage for most of the second half. Troy (Alabama) was shooting the ball horribly and BGSU had chances to put the Trojans away.

But Troy inched closer, and then its full-court press, which the Falcons (3-2) had weathered most of the game, started to become unbearable for BGSU.

Two errant BGSU passes turned into five Trojan points. With 15 seconds remaining and BGSU up two, Samarco was fouled and missed the first of two free throws.

With four seconds left, Troy s Cedric Jackson hit an open 3-pointer to tie the game, just his second basket of the day. Ryne Hamblet got the ball at midcourt and pushed it to Samarco in the left corner. Samarco had no time to set his feet, but had a clear look at the hoop. After his game-winner, his teammates put him on their shoulders in front of a crowd of 1,448 at Anderson Arena.

Truthfully Martin deserved the shot to go in, because he s struggled, he s missed some free throws at the end of games, coach Dan Dakich said. I was so happy for him because he tries so hard.

Samarco finished with 29 points, his third consecutive game with more than 20 points. Hamblet, who had last week s buzzer-beater, had 16 points and Erik Marschall added 10.

Sometimes those go in, and tonight was one of them, Troy coach Don Maestri said. It was a shot I didn t think he was going to make. We would have loved to go to overtime.

The clutch jump shot avoided what would have been a frustrating defeat for the Falcons, who would not have had momentum going into overtime.

I don t know what I would have done had we lost this one, Dakich said. It would have been hard-pressed to tell the mayhem that would have occurred.

BGSU started the game shooting 6-for-24, taking quick shots against Troy s zone. Walk-on Brian Guerin, who played a career-high 28 minutes, came in and opened up the offense against the zone by faking passes and using dribble penetration.

I just tried to get the ball in the middle and get the ball to the shooters, Guerin said.

When Guerin entered the game the Falcons were down five, but he had two quick assists to Samarco to get the deficit within one. Hamblet also hit five consecutive shots to keep the Falcons ahead.

Guerin was the one guy that came in and kept his wits about him, Dakich said. He faked and put himself in really good situations.

Bassett led the Trojans (4-4) with 22 points and Richard Chaney had 19. Sammy Sharp had 13 rebounds and five blocks.

The Falcons have a quick turnaround, playing host to Arkansas State at 7 tomorrow night, so the celebration couldn t last long.

We re still working on closing out games, Samarco said. Once we accomplish that, the sky will be the limit.

Contact Maureen Fulton at: mfulton@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.

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