BOWLING GREEN - Losses like these are just brutal to absorb. They are even more painful when they're meaningful.
Bowling Green State University's 81-77 overtime loss to Central Michigan last night could ultimately mean quite a bit. That's both good and bad for the Falcons who have defied reasoning by even playing consequential games at this point of the season.
But this one absolutely hurt. BG was a rebound away from picking up another victory. A rebound away from moving into second place in the MAC. A rebound away from maintaining its dominance at home.
"We've ended I don't know how many games on the defensive end and won the game with a stop," BG coach Louis Orr said.
Not last night. Central's Nate Minnoy rebounded a missed shot by teammate Giordan Watson and put it in to tie the game with nine-tenths of a second remaining in regulation.
Until that point it seemed as though the Falcons would win another thriller, similar to their victories over Ohio, Miami and Northern Illinois. But Minnoy slid free, and the Falcons didn't find him until the score was tied.
"We can't have guys standing and watching that late in the game," Orr said. "When the shot goes up we have to go after that ball. We needed to get one more play."
CMU, which had not won a road MAC game, scored the first five points in overtime and never saw its lead shrink to less than two.
BG will enter Sunday's matchup against Toledo with a 10-11 record, including a 5-4 mark in the MAC. The Falcons failed to make up ground on Ohio and Akron, which both lost last night. BG trails leaders Kent State and Western Michigan by two games.
Nate Miller led BG with 20 points and carried the Falcons in overtime, scoring the first seven points before Joe Jakubowski scored the final six. Minnoy led the Chippewas (10-11, 5-4) with 18 points, and was their top scorer in overtime with six.
Jakubowski would have been credited with the game-winner in regulation if not for Minnoy's put back. With 24 seconds remaining Jakubowski threw up an extremely difficult 10-footer from the baseline as he was fouled, putting BG ahead 64-62 following the ensuing free throw.
Jakubowski finished with 13 points and Brian Moten added 17 for the Falcons, who are now 4-1 in MAC games at Anderson Arena. Jakubowski and Darryl Clements both were instrumental in keeping Watson, the MAC's leading scorer, to a modest 12 points. Watson, who entered the game averaging 17 points, was scoreless in the first half and attempted just one shot.
"They did a really good job of pressuring him," Central coach Ernie Zeigler said. "They did a really good job of being physical with him. It's something that he's been seeing throughout the season."
BG has its own trends, including terrible starts. For the second game in a row the Falcons fell behind early, this time trailing 19-4 seven minutes into the game. They rallied to cut the deficit to one at halftime, something they were unable to do after falling behind in their other three MAC losses.
Orr offered a few reasons for the sluggish starts, including the simple theory that good shots are just not falling, but he didn't seem confident that he knew the answer.
"I can't put my finger on it," Orr said. "I don't know what it is, if we're tight early on. I don't know what it is."
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