BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team played an “informative” game against Samford on Saturday.
In the first half the Falcons’ struggles on offense and defense gave a glimpse at the “worst case” scenario, with the second half serving as the “best case.”
Fortunately for BG, its second-half best was good enough to carry it to a 57-42 win over the Bulldogs at the Stroh Center.
Jordon Crawford scored 14 points, all of them coming in the second half, to lead Bowling Green (5-4). A’uston Calhoun finished with 12 points while Chauncey Orr tied his career high with 11.
Raijon Kelly scored 14 points while Tim Williams added 12 points and nine rebounds to lead Samford (2-9).
The first half was full of struggles on both offense and defense for BG. The offense made just 8-of-27 shots (29.6 percent) while turning the ball over six times.
Meanwhile the Bulldogs shot 52.6 percent from the floor and led by as many as 14 points as the Falcons trailed 27-17 at halftime.
“Even though we struggled offensively, our defense gave us a chance to be in the game,” BG coach Louis Orr said. “Our guys haven’t let their offensive challenges affect our defensive effort.
“Jordon was 0-for-9, and you know he’s going to shoot better in the second half. A’uston got two fouls and was on the bench for the last seven minutes, and it was a 10-point game.”
While the first half was everything Bowling Green hopes to avoid, the second half showcased everything the Falcons hope to become. BG made six of its first nine shots and made 47.8 percent of their attempts in that half to score 40 points.
Meanwhile the defense clamped down on the Bulldogs, forcing them to miss all but three of their last 16 shots from the field, shoot just 27.3 percent for the half, and score just 15 points in the period.
“The last three games we haven’t been shooting [well],” Chauncey Orr said. “To see the ball go into the basket [in the second half] gives us confidence — on offense and defense.
“It helps us play harder as a team. It came down to us making shots in the second half.”
BG scored on its first four possessions of the second half, and back-to-back 3-pointers by Crawford gave the Falcons a 36-35 lead with 11:17 to play. Those baskets were the first six points in a 27-7 finish that allowed Bowling Green to lead by as many as 18 before settling on the final margin.
“I thought our three-quarter court defense helped us, and it helped energize us,” Louis Orr said. “I thought our ball pressure picked up.
“But in order to get into it [the three-quarter court press], you have to score. And there was more of a sense of urgency, since we were down 10 points. Our points off turnovers were big.”
That pressure helped the Falcons force 15 Samford turnovers, including nine in the second half. Bowling Green turned those turnovers into 23 points.
“Our defensive aggression led to more offense,” said Chauncey Orr, who scored nine of his 11 points in the second half. “My coaches and teammates are telling me I have to be more aggressive.”
NOTES: Guard Anthony Henderson left the game midway through the second half with an ankle sprain. Coach Orr said the Start High School grad will have nine days to heal before the team’s next contest, which takes place Dec. 18 against Michigan State at the Stroh Center. … Guard Jehvon Clarke was in uniform for Saturday’s game but did not play. Coach Orr said Clarke “wasn’t comfortable enough” after returning to practice only recently after suffering an ankle injury in the loss to Youngstown State.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.