BG's Richaun Holmes dunks in the second half at the Stroh Center. He scored 18 points for the Falcons.
BOWLING GREEN — When the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team came home from a four-day junket in Cancun, Mexico, coach Louis Orr had a plan.
The plan was simple: Get off the bus and shoot free throws.
PHOTO GALLERY: BG men defeat W. Kentucky
“I thought [missing free throws] was a big contributor to a loss against Oral Roberts,” Orr said. “We haven’t been good [shooting free throws] all year, and I wanted them to understand how important they are.”
That extra work paid immediate dividends as the Falcons made 10 in a row in a stretch of the second half and made 29-of-42 in the game (69 percent) on the way to a 74-62 win over Western Kentucky at the Stroh Center Monday night.
“Coach Orr has been harping on [free throws],” said Spencer Parker, who finished with 20 points. “We knew the game would come down to free throws at the end. Luckily we made ours, and they didn’t [make theirs].”
Richaun Holmes scored 18 points as he and Parker posted career scoring highs, while Craig Sealey had 13 and Anthony Henderson 12 for Bowling Green (3-4).
T.J. Price finished with 24 points for Western Kentucky (4-3), while Ben Lawson and George Fant each had 11 for the Hilltoppers.
Western Kentucky scored the game’s first nine points in a four-minute span, prompting the Falcons to switch to a three-quarter, court-trapping defense that fell back into a 2-3 zone. The defense caused the Hilltoppers immediate problems, as they made just 8-of-21 shots over the remainder of the first half after connecting on five of their first eight.
That allowed BG to get back into the game as the Falcons went on a 23-5 run over the next nine minutes.
“We kind of feed off that [defense] — it gets us going,” Orr said of the trap and the zone. “I thought we came out a little flat, and we had to get aggressive.
“I thought our guys did a good job with the changing defense, and we went on a run.”
Spencer Parker keeps the ball away from Western Kentucky's Brandon Price. Paker led BG with 20 points.
Sealey came off the bench to score 11 points in the first half as Bowling Green led 36-34 at the break.
“Craig was huge for us,” Parker said. “Coming off his surgery, he hasn’t been 100 percent, but he’s stepping it up a lot.
“That lift he gave us coming off the bench [in the first half], that was huge.”
Parker scored seven quick points to start the second half, and BG scored the first 15 points of the period to lead 51-34 with 14:03 to play.
“I just wanted to come in and be aggressive,” Parker said. “I knew we needed a lift, and I didn’t want us to get off to a slow start.”
By the 10:41 mark of the second half, each team had committed seven fouls, putting a premium on free-throw shooting. And the Falcons did a much better job of making their free throws as Holmes was 7-for-8 in the second half and Parker was 7-for-9, while Western Kentucky made just 6-of-16.
“When you get to the bonus, you have to keep attacking,” Orr said. “I thought we did a good job of getting the ball to Spencer, and he did a good job of attacking.
“And give Richaun Holmes credit for hitting free throws — and hitting a big 3-pointer — for us.”
NOTES: Holmes also finished with a season-high five blocked shots, and BG finished with a season-high 10 blocks. … Junior forward Chauncey Orr continues to have swelling on his injured right knee, and the injury will be re-evaluated this week. Orr has not played since the Falcons’ season opener. … Freshman guard Zack Denny still has not practiced with BG because of an injured knee. … Parker became the first player on the Falcons’ active roster to score 20 points in a game in his college career.