BOWLING GREEN - Anderson Arena had been a place of comfort and sanctuary for the Falcon basketball team this season, a place where they had not lost and where the shooting gods seemed to smile with favor on Bowling Green.
Saturday night, the Falcons often looked lost in a foreign land while playing at home, as they shot just 28 percent and got roughed up by Akron 62-52. Bowling Green coach Louis Orr saw an obvious but intangible basis for his team's frustration-filled night.
"Looking at the game and the stats, we just didn't play well," Orr said.
"In a game like this, with every opportunity, you've got to take advantage of it. We shot 28 percent at home so we had a lot to do with our struggles."
The loss drops the Falcons to 8-8 overall and 1-2 in the Mid-American Conference.
Two former City League stars faced off, as Bowling Green sophomore guard Joe Jakubowski of St. John's and Akron junior guard Darryl Roberts of St. Francis spent a lot of time together on the same court, although they rarely guarded each other.
Jakubowki was most frequently matched with Akron freshman Anthony "Humpty" Hitchens, who was part of the Chillicothe team that defeated Libbey in last year's Division II state championship game.
Roberts was on the floor for Akron at crunch time, and he hit a critical jump shot from the elbow with 2:45 to play to put the Zips up 54-48. Midway through the second half, Roberts scored from about the same spot to pull Akron even.
Bowling Green got within 54-50 with just over a minute to play on a pair of free throws from Nate Miller, but Akron (9-7, 1-2) beat the Bowling Green pressure down the floor, and 6-10 Mike Bardo dunked for another six-point lead.
"At the end of the day, it's going to come down to defense, and we didn't get the stops we needed down the stretch," Miller said.
After a BG miss, Roberts was fouled, and he sank both shots for a 58-50 Akron lead with 40.9 seconds left in the game.
Roberts, a junior who sat out his first year at Akron to focus on academics, became eligible in December of last season and has played in every game since then. He is the MAC's top free throw shooter, hitting 34-of-35 (97.1 percent) attempts this season.
Roberts was back at the line with 33.6 seconds left, and he converted both shots again for a 60-52 Akron advantage. Bowling Green could not close the gap.
"That was a typical MAC East game - you don't know who is going to win it," Akron coach Keith Dambrot said. "We did a really good job of getting the ball into Darryl Roberts' hands at the end. That's smart, because he's gonna make them."
Roberts finished with 10 points for the Zips, who were led by Hitchens with 15. Miller scored 15 for the Falcons, while starters Chris Knight and Jakubowski went without a field goal in the game.
"We had two starters not score a field goal - that's the reality," Orr said. "We need everybody to contribute."
The Falcons came into the game needing to generate some significant offense early, just to show their last outing was an anomaly. In a midweek 24-point loss at Kent State, Bowling Green generated just 15 second-half points and went more than eight minutes without scoring.
Bowling Green scored just 21 second-half points last night.
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