ANN ARBOR — The offense took a step backward. The defense took a step backward.
And as a result, the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team took a step backward, losing to IUPUI 80-66 on Tuesday in the consolation game of the North Regional of the NIT Season Tip Off at the University of Michigan’s Crisler Center.
Jordon Crawford had 24 points and four assists, while A’uston Calhoun added 19 points and six rebounds for the Falcons (1-2).
The Jaguars (2-1) had four players finish in double figures, while two more posted double-doubles — Mitchell Patton had 27 points and 13 rebounds, and Donovan Gibbs added 10 points and 13 boards.
Greg Rice scored 21 points while Jordan Shanklin had 12.
The Falcons lost for the second time in as many days for two simple reasons: They struggled shooting, and they struggled to make the Jaguars miss.
Let’s look at the defense first, because it seemed to be a constant problem. The Falcons allowed IUPUI to made 29 of 48 shots (60.4 percent), including a sizzling 15 of 21 (71.4 percent) in the second half.
“When you shoot 71 percent from the field, that’s like adrenaline to your body,” BG coch Louis Orr said. “When you’re making shots, it energizes you.
“You could see the bounce in their stride, and they got their confidence even more.”
That energy allowed the Jaguars to get back into the game after Bowling Green had rolled to a 24-13 lead in the game’s first 10 minutes. IUPUI used a 10-2 run to quickly cut the deficit to three points, and by halftime BG’s lead was reduced to 37-36.
“Our energy, talking with each other, me on the ball applying ball pressure [were problems],” Crawford said. “We let them get going early and get their confidence up.”
The Falcons stayed in the game for 30 minutes because of their offense. BG shot 45.5 percent from the floor and made five 3-pointers — more 3s than in either of their first two contests — in the first half.
In the second half the Falcons made 8 of 14 shots to start, but at the 10-minute, 23-second mark, their lead was just 55-54. From that point Bowling Green made just four of its final 19 shots from the field as the Jaguars outscored them 26-11.
The Falcons struggled all night to stop the 6-foot-9 Patton, who made 10 of 15 shots, most coming from the low block. When BG started to bring guards down to the post to double-team Patton, that opened up 3-point attempts for Shanklin, who was 3 for 3 on 3s, and the rest of the Jaguars, who made 7 of 15 shots from the arc.
“When you’re scoring in the paint, it gets open shots for other people,” Orr said. “And Rice and Shanklin shot the ball really well.”
In defense of the Falcons, they were playing for the second night in a row — after an overtime game Monday — with just nine healthy scholarship players as Start High School product Anthony Henderson, Desmond Rorie, and Spencer Parker deal with injuries.
“When you play these events with back-to-back games, it comes down to endurance and will,” Orr said. “You may get tired, but you have to will yourself [to win] on the court. I thought they had the stronger well. And they got stronger as the game went on.”
Of the two facets of the game, the offense looks to be the Falcons’ bigger long-term concern.
“Between A’uston and Jordon, they took 40 shots [of BG’s 66],” Orr said. “They have been the guys who have scored the points for us. I think the other guys will step up, but that is a work in progress. Those two guys are proven scorers, but the rest will have to work itself out.”
NOTES: IUPUI is located in Indianapolis and is a consolidation of regional campuses for both Indiana University and Purdue University in that city. … Luke Kraus tied his career high with four steals. … Sophomore Richaun Holmes finished with seven points and seven rebounds for the Falcons despite playing just 16 minutes before fouling out.