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BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team continues to confound.
Just when the Falcons seem to be down for the count, they rise up off the mat and deliver a 74-68 haymaker to Buffalo at the Stroh Center Sunday.
Bowling Green improved to 10-11 overall and 4-4 in the Mid-American Conference by snapping a two-game losing streak that was the latest twist in a streaky start to league play.
“You can’t get caught up in that — you have to see the big picture,” BG coach Louis Orr said of the streaks. “We lost two in a row, but you have to remember we won three in a row before that.
“Just because you lose two games, that doesn’t make you a bad team. In life you’re not going to win every game or every battle. But if you keep getting up. …
“If you keep listening to the voices, it’s always about right now. But if you look around the country at the peaks and valleys every team goes through, it’s part of a season.”
PHOTO GALLERY: BG men beat Buffalo 74-68
Spencer Parker scored a career-high 23 points, 15 of which came in the second half, to lead the Falcons. Richaun Holmes posted his fourth double-double of the year with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Jehvon Clarke had his first career double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. Clarke also finished with nine assists.
Will Regan scored 17 points to lead Buffalo (11-7, 5-3), while Joshua Freelove had 16 and Javon McCrea posted a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards.
Clarke said he and his teammates didn’t let the team’s recent struggles affect Sunday’s game.
“I didn’t see any [head-hanging], and I thought that was a big factor [in this win],” he said. “I thought we kept our composure and our poise, and that took us a long way in this game.”
Bowling Green trailed most of the first half, falling behind by as many as 10 points. But a 7-2 rush in the final four minutes, including a layup by Clarke just before the halftime buzzer, cut the Falcons’ halftime deficit to 37-35.
“I thought that was a momentum-builder, a confidence- builder,” Orr said. “When we made a defensive stop and got a basket at the buzzer, I thought that was big.”
The early part of the second half included five ties before an 8-2 Bulls run gave them a 65-58 lead with 6:54 to play. But from that point the Falcons dominated, forcing eight consecutive missed shots by Buffalo while scoring on three straight possessions.
The key play came when the Bulls’ McCrea was called for his fifth foul with 2:28 left. Buffalo coach Bobby Hurley was hit with a technical after the foul call, and the Falcons made three-of-four free throws, corralled the miss, then sank two more free throws after another Buffalo foul.
That five-point possession gave Bowling Green a three-point lead that it never relinquished.
“I thought [that technical] was a game-changer,” Clarke said. “Our free throws down the stretch were big.
“It gave us a momentum boost. It gave us a few points at the free-throw line, and we got into a rhythm both offensively and defensively.”
Clarke said the Falcons’ goal is to use the win as the springboard for another winning streak.
“Coming off a two-game losing streak, you have to have a sense of motivation where you want to win,” he said. “You have to do whatever you can to win a game.
“We’re going to build off this game. We won three in a row before, so we don’t want to be satisfied. We want to continue to build and be better each day.”
NOTE: The technical foul on Hurley was one of three called in the game. Buffalo’s McCrea and the BG bench each were hit with a technical with 3:18 left in the first half.
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.