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BOWLING GREEN — Offensively, the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team’s offensive struggles against Wright State Monday weren’t much different than those in its contest against Youngstown State two days earlier.
But defensively? Big, big difference.
The Falcons put together a strong 40-minute effort on defense in pinning a 54-41 loss on the Raiders at the Stroh Center.
“One thing we know: If we hold the other team from scoring, we have a chance to win the game,” said A’uston Calhoun, who scored 17 of his game-high 19 points in the second half. “It’s hard to beat another team trading baskets, especially with the offensive woes we’ve had early on.
“We have to focus on the defense, and we know the offense will come.”
BG held Wright State to just 41 points, one short of its mark for fewest points at the Stroh Center. The Falcons forced 17 turnovers, limited the Raiders to just three offensive rebounds, and allowed them to make just 37.5 percent of their shots from the field.
“When you shoot only 32 percent from the floor, you need [energy and defense],” BG coach Louis Orr said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we did what we had to do, and that’s the way it’s got to be.”
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The Falcons also got 11 points from Jordon Crawford to even their season’s record at 4-4. Wright State, which fell to 5-3, was led by Reggie Arceneaux and his 13 points.
The first half was a see-saw affair in which Bowling Green used a 6-0 run midway through the half to lead by eight, only to see the Raiders score eight straight points to tie the game.
From there neither team led by more than four in a 22-22 halftime tie.
Wright State led by four points early in the second half before a pair of free throws by Calhoun at the 14:35 mark seemed to ignite the BG offense. The Falcons scored on eight consecutive possessions in a 20-7 run in five minutes that basically decided the game.
“As a team, I felt we got out in transition and got a lot of easy baskets,” Calhoun said of Bowling Green’s offensive explosion. “For myself, I haven’t been shooting the ball well the last few games, so I tried to get to the free-throw line, get to the middle of the key and get some things going there.”
Bowling Green continued to be aggressive offensively in the second half and was rewarded with 18 free-throw attempts, making 16. Calhoun was 12-for-12, and the Falcons were 19-for-21 (90.5 percent) from the line, while Wright State was just 5-for-6 from the charity stripe.
That helped overcome BG’s 16-for-49 (32.7 percent) shooting from the field for the game. The Falcons were 1-for-10 on 3-pointers in the first half and made just 3-of-16 for the game.
“People got shots and opportunities and took full advantage of them,” Calhoun said. “Nobody second-guessed anything, and we trusted each other.
“When we had timeouts and huddles, everyone was confident. And that gave us a boost.”
NOTE: BG guard Jehvon Clarke did not play because of a sprained ankle. He may be back for Saturday’s game against Samford. … Richaun Holmes set a career high with nine points, while Start High School product Anthony Henderson had a career-best four steals to go with four points and five rebounds.
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.