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BOWLING GREEN — The final play was designed to give Jordon Crawford some options.
“[The play] was for me to come off a ball screen, then make a play — either for me or for someone else,” Crawford said. “The decision was up to me.”
When Crawford was asked if the decision was made before the play began, he smiled and said, “Probably.”
Crawford made a long 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 6.1 seconds left to give the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team a 46-44 win over Eastern Michigan at the Stroh Center on Saturday.
What made Crawford’s 3-pointer all the more impressive was that he had missed a similar shot just a few seconds earlier. What’s more, he was 3-for-15 shooting before his final bucket and had committed nine turnovers, which meant Crawford’s final basket erased a lot of bad karma.
“[The miss before that] was the exact same play,” he admitted. “But you’ve got to move on. You can’t dwell on the last shot or what happened earlier in the game.
“I definitely felt I had to make that to get my teammates off my back a little bit. It was a relief.”
The Falcons got 11 from Crawford and a game-high 17 points along with seven rebounds from A’uston Calhoun to snap a five-game losing streak and improve to 6-9 overall and 1-1 in the Mid-American Conference.
Eastern Michigan got 11 from Derek Thompson off the bench but fell to 7-9 and 0-2.
Crawford’s game-winning basket closed out a defensive struggle that saw both teams shoot poorly and turn the ball over frequently. Bowling Green was the “hot” team, shooting 34.6 percent from the field despite a 5-for-22 effort on 3’s (22.7 percent) while tying its season high with 20 turnovers. But Eastern Michigan made only 28.8 percent of its shots and had 17 turnovers
The result was a contest in which a small offensive run seemed like an explosion. Eastern Michigan took a 9-2 lead off the bat, only to see the Falcons respond with a 9-1 run. The Eagles eventually finished the first half on a 7-2 run that gave them a 25-20 lead.
“[Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy] obviously was a good student of Jim Boeheim,” said BG coach Louis Orr, who played and coached under the Syracuse coach — as did Murphy. “I learned the basics of the zone we used from coach Boeheim, but we don’t play it like they do.”
The Falcons used a three-quarter court trapping press to start the second half and scored the first seven points of the period. But EMU quickly closed the gap, and for the rest of the game neither team led by more than three points in a tight contest that saw six ties.
The Eagles’ Thompson made two free throws to make the score 44-41 with 2:32 left, but EMU did not score again. Calhoun’s acrobatic shot in the lane with 1:48 on the clock cut the deficit to one, setting the stage for Crawford’s game-winner.
“If you think about it, in whose hands do you want the ball [at the end of the game]?” Orr said. “Jordon is the one guy on our team who can make something from nothing …
“That’s why, in most cases, the ball is in his hands: He can create something from nothing, and he has the courage and ability to make that shot.”
NOTES: The 46 points in a victory was the fewest for a BG team since the Falcons beat Kent State 45-43 on March 3, 1976. … Jehvon Clarke sprained his ankle during the first half. He returned to the bench in the second half on crutches with no shoe on his right foot.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.