ANN ARBOR — If there’s one thing the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team has learned from it’s first two games, it’s this: Performance and results don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.
The Falcons didn’t play particularly well in their opener but claimed a victory over Lake Erie College. Monday night Bowling Green took a distinct step forward, yet suffered a 79-73 loss in overtime to Cleveland State in the first round of the NIT Season Tip Off played at Michigan’s Crisler Center.
The Falcons will face IUPUI, which lost to Michigan in the second game Monday, at 5 p.m. today.
While Bowling Green was disappointed by the loss, improvement on both ends of the court made the loss more promising that Friday’s victory.
“This was a stepping stone,” said senior A’uston Calhoun, who finished with a career-high 30 points. “There were a lot of things we could build on after the win, and there are a lot of things we can build on after this loss. …
“After that first game, I think we made a big jump to [this game]. If we keep having those jumps from day-to-day and game-to-game and practice-to-practice, then I think we can be a phenomenal team.”
Luke Kraus was the only other Falcon to reach double figures, finishing with 10 points. Tim Kamczyc led five players in double figures for the Vikings (2-0), with Sebastian Douglas scoring 16, Charlie Lee 14, Marlin Mason 11 with 13 rebounds, and Anton Grady 10 points.
The Falcons struggled out of the gates, not making a shot from the field until Jordon Crawford’s layup with more than six minutes gone. BG used a 10-0 run to lead 17-15 with 9:51 left in the first half.
“I think we did a pretty good job of not getting frustrated,” Calhoun said of the poor start. “We know that our offensive game will come, and that it’s early in the season.
“We feel our defense has been solid, especially our man-to-man. We know that at some point in time the buckets will come.”
A 12-2 run gave Cleveland State the lead, but the Falcons got eight points from Calhoun in a 14-4 run to end the half, which tied the score at 33-33.
“He was a man among boys,” Vikings coach Gary Waters said of Calhoun. “We really struggled to guard him on the block.
“Even when we double-teamed him, he worked through the double team.”
Bowling Green scored the first seven points of the second half and led 55-48 with 9:25 to play. Cleveland State responded with a 10-3 run that tied the game with 5:30 left, and from there neither team led by more than three points in regulation, with the Vikings’ Lee connecting on a tough shot in the lane to tie the game at 66-66 with 32 seconds left.
Bowling Green had the ball and could have taken the last shot, but Jordon Crawford turned the ball over. The Falcons were able to force overtime by getting Grady to miss a tough shot at the buzzer.
BG coach Louis Orr said he was disappointed with the way his team tried to close out the contest.
“We had the ball and we wanted to take the last shot,” he said. “We wanted to start the play with 10 seconds left — and we turned the ball over.
“We need to cut down our turnovers, especially down the stretch. And when A’uston is having a game like this, we have to make sure he gets the ball.”
In the overtime the Vikings got a 3-pointer from Kamczyc — his fifth in the contest — to take a 71-70 lead with 3:15 to play. Another BG turnover led to a break-away layup by Mason, and the Falcons came no closer than two points after that.
Cleveland State, which shot nearly 58 percent from the field in its season-opening win over Grambling, connected on 38.6 percent of its shots against BG.
“On the defensive end, I thought we did some really good stuff,” Orr said. “To play that well this early in the season — and we played all man-to-man. Last year we were playing almost all zone.”
The Falcons were left to lament 16 turnovers, nine of which came from Crawford, who also had six assists, and the finish that let a potential win slip away.
“We didn’t close the game the way would have liked,” Orr said. “But we played some good basketball. We got to the end with a chance to win. But we have to find a way to pull out [the win].”
NOTES: Sophomore forward Anthony Henderson was not in uniform for the game after suffering a concussion in practice Sunday. … Also injured for the Falcons are freshman Desmond Rorie (ankle sprain) and Spencer Parker (rib injury).
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