BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team found itself in a tough, gritty game against Detroit on Sunday.
But the Falcons found a way to make the difficult plays in the final moments and claim a 64-62 win at the Stroh Center.
Anthony Henderson’s rebound basket with 1:36 to play gave BG a three-point lead, and a fine defensive stand in the final seconds sealed the Falcons’ third straight win.
PHOTO GALLERY: BG men top Detroit 64-62
“I think our guys are showing a certain competitive spirit and toughness,” coach Louis Orr said. “And I think we’re doing it together.
“We have a good group of guys, and I think they are maturing, both as a group and individually.”
Henderson scored 15 points and added three steals to lead Bowling Green (6-5). Jehvon Clarke had 14 points and eight assists while Richaun Holmes added 13.
Juwan Howard, Jr., scored 17 and Anton Wilson 16 for Detroit (5-8).
It was a physical contest that came just a few days after finals — and a few days before Christmas. So Orr said he was worried about the Falcons’ focus, fears that were realized early as the Titans used a 10-3 run midway through the first half to take a 24-13 lead with 9:05 on the clock.
But Bowling Green put together a spurt late in the half that was fueled by its press break, getting several dunks that eventually led to a 32-32 tie with 3:24 to play.
Detroit led 36-35 at the half, thanks primarily to 17 points off 10 Falcon turnovers and the Titans’ 6-of-12 shooting on 3-pointers.
That led to a see-saw second half that included three ties and five lead changes. Bowling Green, which led by as many as seven points, eventually broke a 60-60 tie when Spencer Parker made the first of two free throws with 2:42 to play.
After the two teams traded empty possessions, Parker drove to the basket but missed — only to see Henderson grab the rebound and score with 1:36 left.
“I saw that Spencer was attacking the rim, and I knew he might miss,” the Start High School grad said. “So I went in and got the rebound.”
Howard scored for Detroit with 1:22 to play to cut the margin to one point, and both defenses made a stop before Holmes drew a foul and made the second of two free throws with 22 seconds to play.
In the Titans’ final possession Matthew Grant missed a 3-point shot with 11 seconds left, and Howard’s baseline jumper over three Falcons with six seconds to go was off the mark. Holmes grabbed the rebound of the Howard miss to close out the win.
“[Coach] wanted us to switch everything, and make sure they didn’t get any open looks,” Henderson said of BG’s final defensive stand. “Then Richaun got a great rebound.”
The key for the Falcons’ defense in the second half was to limit the damage caused by turnovers. It wasn’t bad enough BG coughed the ball up 10 times in the first half; those miscues led to 17 Detroit points in the second half.
While the Falcons had six turnovers in the second half, they led to just three points for the Titans.
“We were helping their offense with our turnovers,” Orr said. “So our biggest improvement [on offense] was not turning the ball over, and being more conscious of doing a better job with the ball.”
NOTES: Freshman guard Zack Denny was in uniform for the first time this season but did not play. Denny joined the Falcons for practice starting Wednesday, his first practices with the team this season. … Senior forward Craig Sealey was not in uniform as he recovers from an ankle sprain suffered in the Xavier loss. … Walk-on Brandon Busuttil, a sophomore from Kitchener, Ont., also was in uniform for the Falcons.