BOWLING GREEN -- The Bowling Green State University men's basketball team has no one to blame but itself for its 68-66 loss to Buffalo at the Stroh Center Saturday.
After holding the Bulls in check in their two specialties in the first half -- 3-point shooting and rebounding -- the Falcons struggled to stop Buffalo in both areas in the second half.
At crunch time BG wasn't able to get the critical basket it needed to earn the win.
GALLERY: BGSU vs. Buffalo
As a result the Falcons fell to 8-10 overall and 2-3 in Mid-American Conference play.
"We knew we had to win the rebounding battle, and in the rebounding and hustle plays we didn't do a good enough job [in the second half]," BG coach Louis Orr said. "And they made shots -- they were 8-for-10 on 3's in the second half after going 1-for-11 in the first half.
"We had chances until the end. We just came up short."
A'uston Calhoun finished with a career-high 29 points, while Dee Brown celebrated his 22nd birthday with 13 points, and Scott Thomas added 12 for the Falcons .
Javon McCrea and Mitchell Watt each scored 16 points to lead Buffalo (10-6, 3-2 MAC), which also got 11 points from Tony Watson.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair that saw Bowling Green earn a 27-26 lead. The keys to the Falcons' success were holding Buffalo to 1-for-11 shooting on 3-pointers (9.1 percent) and outrebounding the taller Bulls 22-16.
Early in the second half BG used an 11-4 run to lead 40-33 with 14:54 left. The Bulls shot themselves back into the contest, connecting on their first five 3-pointers, using 3's from Watson, Dave Barnett, and Watt to fuel a 10-2 run and lead 61-53 with 5:29 on the clock.
Buffalo finished 8-for-10 on 3-pointers in the second half and outrebounded the Falcons 20-13, thanks in part to seven offensive boards. McCrea had eight of his game-high 13 rebounds in the second half.
"In the second half we just wanted to keep the pressure on them," Calhoun said. "But in the second half, when they hit a few [3-pointers], they got a little more confident. And when they got a few rebounds, they became more confident.
"It all worked in their favor, and that gave them momentum."
BG fought back and eventually led 64-63 with 1:47 to play thanks in part to seven points from Calhoun. From there the Falcons were unable to close the deal, though.
Penetration by UB's Jarod Oldham led to an easy dunk by McCrea with 1:32 left, and Barnett's 3-pointer with 57 seconds on the clock made it 68-64.
Calhoun scored with 46 seconds left, but those would be the final points for the Falcons. Cam Black missed a jumper in the lane that could have tied the game with seven seconds to play. After a missed free throw by Buffalo, Jordon Crawford took the ball the length of the court, only to have his layup blocked by Watt as the final horn sounded.
"There's only one guy who can get the ball upcourt that quickly," Orr said. "I believe that, if Watt doesn't get the block there, Jordon hits the layup.
"You hope in that situation Jordon has a chance to get fouled, but it didn't happen. But we couldn't have asked for a better opportunity [to score]; Buffalo just made a play."
The Falcons have struggled to make plays late all season and are 1-4 in games decided by five points or less. What's more, BG lost its second straight home Mid-American Conference play in the final moments after Akron made a shot at the buzzer to beat the Falcons Jan. 11.
"We have had a lot of close games that we haven't finished out well," Orr said. "But there have been a lot of things in the body of the game that make the difference.
"I just felt we needed to make the hustle plays, because that's what determines who wants the game more."
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.