There are a lot of ways that Joe Jakubowski can help his team win a basketball game, but more often than not it's the little things. You know, small ball. Lots of assists. Not a lot of turnovers.
But he can thread the needle, too, and it was his three 3-point shots, his only baskets of the game, that helped Bowling Green to an insurmountable lead last night at Savage Arena.
Of course, Toledo's Rockets will tell you Joe is quite the little thespian, too. It was Jakubowski's defensive play with 51 seconds remaining that nailed down BG's 59-54 win.
The Rockets trailed by 55-50, but Tyrone Kent was motoring towards an open lane to the hoop and what looked like a sure two points when Jakubowski came out of nowhere. After the ensuing collision, both players were left sprawling on the floor.
"We sort of got caught in transition and were messed up on our matchups," said Jakubowski, a sophomore point guard from St. John's Jesuit. "So I just slid in, closed my eyes, heard the whistle and hoped for the best. It was close."
The official signaled charge, and Kent slapped his hands on the court in disbelief.
UT may have felt like doing the same when Jakubowski turned small ball into big ball with back-to-back treys as BG stretched a 25-22 lead into a 33-24 edge at halftime. Darryl Clements and Jakubowski then hit back-to-back 3-pointers for BG's first two baskets of the second half, and the Falcons went on to lead by as many as 13 points after Jakubowski pitched an assist on a 3-pointer by Brian Moten.
Give credit to UT, which has lost six straight games and notched a 20-loss season for just the second time in school history, for not packing it in at that point. But it nonetheless proved to be too deep a hole from which to dig.
"They made plays when they needed to make plays, and we didn't," Toledo coach Gene Cross said.
The difference was beyond the arc. The Falcons made 7 of 21 tries from 3-point range while UT was 1 of 11.
The two made by Jakubowski late in the first half resulted from tremendous ball movement and penetration followed by perfect kick-out passes.
"My teammates did a good job of finding me," Jakubowski said. "Toledo plays the passing lanes, but we moved the ball well and I just happened to be the guy that was open."
BG shoots a pretty respectable 35 percent from 3-point range but has really dialed it in during the last four games, three coming on the road, with a total of 26 treys.
That's fine with coach Louis Orr, as long as they come in the flow of the offense.
"We're an inside-out team, so everything starts with getting in the lane and getting touches in the paint," said Orr, whose team has developed the look of a serious Mid-American Conference title contender.
"So as long as we're playing inside out and it's not too quick in the shot clock, I'm fine with 3-point shots. Both of those by Joe in the first half were on skip passes from the inside, and so was the one on the pass from Chris [Knight] to Moten at the end."
That was the one that drove the stake into the Rockets. Moten, with a defender in his face, beat the shot clock while falling backwards into the BG bench with 1:44 to play. That made it a two-possession game, and BG drew charges, the second courtesy of Jakubowski, on UT's next two possessions.
"We just keep improving, that's the main thing," Jakubowski said. "Our seniors are playing great, so I'm just trying to manage the game and do what I can."
Last night, he came up big with some big ball in a big win.
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