BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green State University had plenty of incentive to face Savannah State last night at Anderson Arena.
It was about this time a year ago when the Tigers dealt the Falcons a disappointing road defeat, rallying back from a 21-point halftime deficit to finish with a three-point victory.
The Falcons avenged the loss by handing the Tigers a 59-51 setback before an announced home crowd of 1,424.
Joe Jakubowski scored 10 of his team-high 14 points in the second half, including five straight points for BG when the Falcons (3-3) closed out the game with an 11-2 run to seal the win.
Otis Polk added 10 points and eight rebounds, as well as team highs in assists (three) and steals (three), while Erik Marschall came off the bench to deliver 10 points and six rebounds. Scott Thomas added eight points and nine rebounds in a game the Falcons outrebounded the Tigers 37-28.
"This was a kind of gut-check game for us," coach Louis Orr said. "How we finished the game, I know it was a step in the right direction. Our veteran guys, they stepped up and closed the game out."
The Falcons trailed the Tigers 49-48 when Tracy Rankins knocked down a 3-pointer for Savannah State with just under four minutes to play. At that point, it looked like BG was in for another down-to-the-wire affair.
But the Falcons turned up the heat on defense, and Jakubowski provided enough of an offensive spark to help BG pull away from Savannah State (4-4).
After Marschall made a pair of foul shots with over three minutes remaining to put BG ahead, 50-49, Jakubowski came through with a runner off the glass just before the shot-clock expired and followed that with a 3-pointer to give BG a six point lead with 1:53 to play.
A jumpshot by Savannah State's Arnold Louis cut BG's lead to 55-51 with 36 seconds remaining.
But BG closed out the scoring at the foul line.
"I thought Joe Jakubowski stepped up and made some big shots late," Orr said. "I like the fact that he's playing with confidence and wants to make the plays at the end of games."
Jakubowski said Polk told him to look for his shot down the stretch because the Tigers were doubling down on the Falcons post players. The Falcons starting point guard responded by making the two momentum-swinging baskets.
"Without a doubt I want the ball at the end of the game," Jakubowski said. "I've paid my dues. I've averaged 30 minutes (a game) these past two years and so I have a little experience and experience goes a long way, especially in college basketball.
"So, I definitely want the ball at the end of the game. I have confidence in my shot and it's time I step up."
Jakubowski said the Falcons spoke about the loss at Savannah State last season and wanted payback. There would be no heroic rallies for the Tigers this time around.
"They came back and beat us and that left a sour taste in our mouths, so we wanted to get back at them," Jakubowski said. "We got the [win], whether it was by 20 or by one, that's all that matters."
The Falcons jumped out to a 14-4 lead early in the first half and went on to take a 28-26 advantage into halftime.
But the lead probably should have been far greater than a two-point advantage, considering the Falcons attempted 34 shots before the break. However, they missed 20 and made only four more than the Tigers, who attempted 22 shots during the period.
Marschall led BG in the first half with six points, while four others had at least four points by the break.
Rankins pumped in a game-high 24 points, and Arnold Louis added 13 for Savannah State (4-4).
Rankins kept the Tigers close in the first half by scoring 14 points, including a 3-for-4 effort from 3-point range.
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