Luke Kraus and the other seniors on the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team had some extra motivation when they faced the University of Toledo on Saturday night.
“I hadn’t lost to Toledo since I’ve been [at Bowling Green],” Kraus said. “It’s tough to go out like this against your rival.
“We tried to battle, but we just couldn’t get past them.”
Kraus and fellow seniors Jordon Crawford, A’uston Calhoun, and James Erger saw their unbeaten streak against the Rockets end with a 75-62 loss at Savage Arena. But Kraus did everything he could to give the Falcons a chance to win, scoring a season-high 12 points thanks in large part to 3-of-5 shooting behind the 3-point arc.
Kraus came into the contest having made just 5-of-37 3-point attempts (13.5 percent) this season, a far cry from his 30.6 percent mark from behind the arc for his career.
“I’ve been struggling, but I didn’t stop working,” Kraus said. “I got extra shots up in practice.
“You can’t give up on yourself, because if you get down on yourself it’s only going to be worse. You can’t rely on just shooting — there are a lot of other parts to the game.”
Bowling Green coach Louis Orr said he thought some of Kraus’s problems came because the Findlay native was dealing with the emotions of being a senior.
“Senior year’s are unique — and you only have one,” Orr said. “That may sound corny, but you have three years that leads up to your senior year, and you only have one [of those].
“And I think Luke has learned how to handle his senior year.”
By that Orr meant that seniors can put pressure on themselves to have a big year in their final college season.
“Some times it becomes a life-or-death thing,” Orr said. “But I think Luke has channeled his emotions and controls them.
“And he has improved his all-around game, not just his shooting [in this game]. The last three or four games he’s done a good job even though he hasn’t scored.
“He’s fighting the good fight, and that’s what you have to do.”
Outside of his shooting, the rest of his 21 minutes against the Rockets were vintage Kraus: He made two steals, forced turnovers, and also had an assist while serving as BG’s best outside defender.
But Kraus also provided a third scoring option for the Falcons, especially in the second half. He knocked down 2-of-3 3-point attempts and scoring nine points in that period to try and keep his team in the game.
“I thought he caught us in a couple of bad ball-screen rotations,” Toledo coach Tod Kowalczyk said of Kraus. “I thought we were late getting back to him a couple of times, and he made us pay.”
Still, it wasn’t enough for Kraus and the Falcons’ seniors to avoid their first loss against their arch-rivals.
“I feel bad for our seniors,” Orr said. “You always want to go out with a win [against Toledo] your senior year.
“It didn’t happen, but you have to go on to the next game.”
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.