BOWLING GREEN – The Bowling Green State University men’s basketball suffered a 91-76 loss to Evansville at the Stroh Center Tuesday.
And the Falcons got beat by a throwback style: The Purple Aces used a patient offense and a tenacious defense – not to mention red-hot shooting – to claim the victory.
“They gave us a little humble pie,” BG freshman Justin Turner admitted.
Evansville made a sizzling 60.7 percent of its shots, including an incendiary 80 percent of its 3-pointers, to hand the Falcons their most lopsided loss of the season.
“They shot the ball extremely well on 3’s,” Bowling Green coach Michael Huger said of the Purple Aces. “They don’t shoot a lot of 3’s, but they made them. …
“We tried to take away their drives – and we didn’t do that – so we didn’t stop their drives or take away their 3’s.
“They had their way with us.”
Turner scored 21 points to lead four in double figures for the Falcons (7-3). Dylan Frye finished with 14, Nelly Cummings 13 and Derek Koch 11 for BG.
Dru Smith made 11-of-13 shots from the floor, including 3-of-5 3-pointers, to score 25 points for Evansville (7-2). Blake Simmons was 6-of-7 from the field and connected on all but one of his five 3-point attempts to score 16, while Noah Frederking added 14.
Bowling Green used a quick six-point run to lead 10-9 with 15:09 still to play in the first half. But Simmons connected on a 3-pointer on the Purple Aces next possession, and a tone was set.
The tone? Whenever Bowling Green would make a run, Evansville would answer. And it seemed most of those answers came from behind the 3-point arc, as the Purple Aces made all five 3’s they attempted in the half.
“We would get close, and we would get good looks – and miss,” Huger said. “That was the difference between maybe taking a lead or not; and then they would go down and score and we’d be down more. …
“We couldn’t get that shot to get over the hump.”
Late in the half Evansville scored seven straight points to take a 42-33 lead, and the Falcons needed a 3-pointer by Turner at the halftime buzzer to cut the deficit to 46-40.
Bowling Green scored the first five points of the second half, but the Purple Aces responded with six points and spent the rest of the game pulling away.
Evansville made “only” 6-of-8 3-pointers to start the second half, and that sharp shooting befuddled the BG defense. If the Falcons guarded a shooter at the arc, that left a Purple Ace driving for a layup. And the moment the Falcons stopped penetration, Evansville seemed to sink a wide-open 3.
“They made us pay for bad rotations,” Turner said. “We really have a lot to clean up on the defensive end.
“Whenever we gave them an open shot, they knocked it in.”
By the 12:19 mark of the second half Evansville had built a double-digit lead; that margin reached as many as 18 points when a Frederking 3 with 5:45 to play made the score 81-63.
“They were so poised,” Turner said of the Aces. “We wouldn’t lock in, and they would get good shots at the end of the shot clock – and they would knock them in.”
Evansville had 18-of-26 shots in the second half (69.2 percent), including 7-of-10 3-pointers.
“They made it look easy,” Huger said. “But when you’re hitting shots, it looks like it’s easy. …
“Simmons hit a corner 3 before the shot clock ran out after a scramble [for a loose ball]. When you’re hitting shots like that, of course it doesn’t look tough – everything was going in.”
Evansville entered the game ranked third in Division in 3-point shooting, and Tuesday’s 12-of-15 effort will only improve upon that number.
“Once you start hitting shots, the rim becomes bigger and the shots are easier,” Huger said. “And it wasn’t just one guy – they had a lot of guys hit shots.
“Once you get it going, it’s hard to stop.”
The result was the fifth time in 10 games the Falcons surrendered at least 80 points, including all three of the team’s losses this season.
“What can you do?” Huger said. “It’s basketball. [Facing a hot-shooting opponent] happens.
“We have to move on. We can’t sulk about this game; we’ve got to get ready for our next game.”
NOTE: Antwon Lillard played in his first game for the Falcons and had six points in 11 minutes. Lillard missed the first eight games because of a suspension and did not play at Norfolk State.
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