BOWLING GREEN — The emotions were raw on the floor of the Stroh Center Monday following the Falcons’ 63-52 loss to Miami.
The emotions also were hauntingly familiar as BG lost a first-round Mid-American Conference tournament game on its home floor for the second year in row.Also familiar were the Falcons’ struggles in this season-ending loss: stretches where the offense was ineffective, and an inability to get key stops in the final moments of a close game.
The result left several players weeping while standing for the alma mater following the loss, which closed the book on a 13-19 season.
“I’m trying to keep myself composed, but seeing my teammates and how they’re taking this is tough,” said A’uston Calhoun, one of three players who finished with 10 points. “These are the guys I’ve gone to war with night-in and night-out, practiced and traveled with for the last four years.
“I can deal with my emotions, but it’s hard to see how it affects everybody else.”
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Calhoun, fellow senior Jordon Crawford and Chauncey Orr each had 10 points.
Jon Harris had 14 points to lead Miami (9-21). Reggie Johnson and Will Felder added 12 and 11, respectively, as the RedHawks advance to the second round of the MAC tournament Wednesday at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.
Harris carried Miami in the first half, connecting on 4-of-5 3-point attempts in the period. He scored all 14 of his points in the first half, the last coming on a jumper in the lane with 3:07 left that gave the RedHawks the lead for good at 30-28.
“From a team that doesn’t shoot a lot of 3’s — and doesn’t shoot a high percentage on its 3’s — he was the one guy that we knew could hurt us,” BG coach Louis Orr said of Harris. “He’s a tough cover at the four [position] because he stretches your defense.”
In the second half the Falcons missed their first seven shots, four of which were 3’s, and fell behind 43-31 before Luke Kraus made a 3-pointer at 13:31.
“We had some opportunities around the basket, but we didn’t score,” Orr said of his team’s early struggles. “We shot some 3’s and we didn’t get to the free-throw line a lot.
“They play a defense against us where they try to take away our inside guys. … We needed to make some shots from the perimeter.”
After scoring 94 points in the paint the previous two games, BG scored just 24 against the RedHawks.
“We knew Miami was a pressure team, but they really had us on our heels,” Calhoun said. “And it’s really tough when you’re not making baskets.
“When the other team is scoring and you can’t answer back, your mind goes all over the place.”
Bowling Green used some full-court pressure to make one final run, cutting its deficit to 49-47 with 4:35 to play.
From that point the Falcons went into another offensive funk, making just 1-of-8 field-goals.
When Miami’s Reggie Johnson made back-to-back 3’s — including banking the second one in— the RedHawks sealed the win with eight straight free throws.
“I told the team in the huddle, ‘The bottom line is, if we can make our free throws and we can defend, we will stay where we need to be,’ ” Miami coach John Cooper said.
The result was the second consecutive season where the Falcons, as the sixth seed, lost a first-round MAC tournament game to an 11th-seed — and in this case, the lowest-seeded team in the tournament.
“Our guys played hard, but they needed to be better,” Orr said. “If you’re worried about losing, and you’re worried about what happened last year, it can keep you from winning.”
Orr, a deeply religious man, waxed philosophically when asked if he was concerned about his job status.
“I trust God — I trust God with everything,” he said. “The only things I control are my faith and coaching my team. …
“I’m under contract, and with everything else I’m trusting God.”
Calhoun defended his coach’s performance in the game and for the season.
“We know that performance — especially in-game performance — is totally on us,” Calhoun said. “Coaches can do all they can do to prepare us in practice, in film and with scouting reports.
“But when it comes to performing — to taking the information they give us and executing — that’s our job as players. And I think we came up short on our end.”
NOTES: The contest was the final game in a BG uniform for Calhoun, Crawford, Kraus and James Erger. … Miami’s Allen Roberts, who was not expected to play again this season after suffering a knee injury, saw 21 minutes of action after his doctor cleared him to play. He scored eight points and had six rebounds.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.