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BOWLING GREEN — For an eight-minute span Saturday, the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team held its own with the Mid-American Conference’s best offense.
But for the 16 minutes that preceded that span, and the 16 that followed, the Falcons struggled at both ends of the floor. As a result, Ohio claimed a 78-65 win over BG in front of 2,662 fans at the Stroh Center.
Offensively Bowling Green committed 21 turnovers that led to 22 points for the Bobcats, while defensively the Falcons allowed OU to shoot 52.5 percent from the field while making eight 3-pointers. Both were key factors in Ohio snapping a five-game losing streak to the Falcons in BG.
“You have to be able to get defensive stops consistently, or you have to keep scoring [to beat Ohio],” Bowling Green coach Louis Orr said. “You can’t help them with turnovers, and when you have opportunities on your end, you have to make the most of them.
“You don’t want to play ‘tag’ with them because if you do, [winning] can be tough.”
A’uston Calhoun finished with 24 points but was the lone player in double figures for the Falcons, who fell to 12-17 overall and 6-8 in the MAC.
Reggie Keely scored 21 points to lead Ohio (21-8, 12-2). Nick Kellogg had four 3-pointers on the way to 16 points for the Bobcats while Walter Offutt scored 12 and D.J. Cooper 10.
BG took an early 7-2 lead before the Bobcats got rolling, scoring 15 straight points to build a 34-21 lead with 4:55 left in the half.
The Falcons had 14 turnovers in the first half that led to 15 Ohio points.
“We had a couple of turnovers against their press, but at other times we weren’t strong with the ball or made a careless play,” Orr said. “When you have 21 turnovers against those guys — and they had eight — you are really making it hard for yourself.”
Late in the half the Falcons caught fire thanks to Calhoun, who scored eight points in the final 1:36, including a 3-pointer just before the buzzer that cut BG’s halftime deficit to 39-33.
“Everybody was playing within themselves and within the system, executing the plays and not rushing shots,” Calhoun said. “Everybody was trusting everyone else, and everyone was in the right place at the right time, and that gave us a little spurt.”
Three minutes into the second half Calhoun had scored five more points and, combined with a 3-pointer by Luke Kraus and three missed shots by Ohio, the Falcons took a 40-39 lead with 17:13 to play.
“In order to make runs and make up a deficit, you have to make stops,” Orr said. “I thought going to a zone changed things up, and it helped.
“And A’uston kept the scoreboard moving. We did a good job of getting him the ball in different areas, and A’uston offensively is a guy who can manufacture points when he has it going.”
But the Bobcats’ Cooper made a 3-pointer to start a run where OU scored on eight straight possessions. From that point Bowling Green came no closer than five points the rest of the way.
“When we switched from man-to-man to zone, they started going inside,” Calhoun said. “That opened up some lanes for their shooters, because we had to pay attention to [Keely] down low.
“Offutt and Kellogg were knocking down shots, so we had to go back to man [defense]. And they were carving us up in man, so that fed their streak.”
It didn’t help that the BG offense struggled from that point on as Calhoun didn’t score after the 13:11 mark of the game, taking just one shot the rest of the way.
And while Calhoun wasn’t scoring, BG missed its last four 3-pointers and turned the ball over six times in the last six minutes.
“We can’t have high turnover numbers on offense, and we have to force turnovers to get shots,” Ohio coach Jim Christian said. “That’s the formula for winning for our team.
“We’re not a great rebounding team, so we have to create more possessions. We had 61 shots, and they had 50, and that’s our formula for winning.”
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