BOWLING GREEN - Bowling Green State University did well statistically against the University of Akron on Saturday afternoon.
Otis Polk led four Falcons in double-figures with a game-high 17 points as BG made 49 percent of its shots against one of the leaders in the Mid-American Conference East Division standings.
The Falcons outscored Akron, 40-26, in the paint. They attempted 11 more free throws (31 to 20) than their conference foes.
Yet, where the Falcons were outdone by the Zips - resulting in a 74-68 home defeat before 1,927 at Anderson Arena - often is hard to sum up simply by statistics.
"Until you defend and rebound and you win those hustle plays - those 50-50 balls - those are the intangibles in a close game that make the difference," BG coach Louis Orr said.
As they have several times this season, the Falcons fell to an opponent who outdid them on the little things that ultimately mattered in the end.
The Zips (22-8, 12-3 MAC), more often than not, came up with the loose balls against the Falcons (14-14, 6-9 MAC), who have dropped three of their last four games, including their last three MAC contests. The Zips, who outrebounded the defending MAC regular season champions, 33-24, including a 15-7 edge on offense, arguably pushed their way around the court a little more.
The Zips competed harder on the little things that count than the Falcons and appeared more willing to give of themselves for the victory from Orr's viewpoint.
"You preach and you preach and you preach, and you hope your guys put value on just competing physically," Orr said. "I think it's something that is a hard thing to really, really teach. Our guys, hopefully, they understand and it's something we've got to work on.
"It's frustrating because it's an intangible that is really, really hard and it's different than teaching a skill. It's in your chest, in your heart, and it's your competitive nature."
Yet, the Falcons never threw in the towel against Akron, which went into halftime owning a 40-27 lead after Brett McClanahan swished a 30-footer just before the buzzer sounded to end the half.
Scott Thomas scored 16 points and pulled down a game-high eight boards for the Falcons while Dee Brown and Erik Marschall added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
But the balanced scoring by the Falcons, who shot 56 percent from the field in the second half, wasn't enough to get past the Zips, who swept the season series.
The Falcons came within four points of the Zips on four occasions late, but Akron held off BG.
"We didn't defend and we didn't rebound, and that's the ballgame," Marschall said.
Akron's Brett McKnight scored 15 points to contribute to the Zips' strong bench play against the Falcons. The Zips' bench outscored the Falcons 37-7.
Akron's starting forward Jimmy Conyers finished with 12 points and was the only other Zips player to score in double figures.