Bowling Green’s Vitto Brown dunks against Findlay on Tuesday. He had 20 points and 15 rebounds.
BOWLING GREEN — In their basketball season opener, the Bowling Green Bobcats started well before experiencing a rather frosty second quarter Tuesday night against Findlay.
But they were able to regroup at halftime and, led by 6-foot-8 senior forward Vitto Brown, came away with a 43-32 victory over the undermanned Trojans.
The Wisconsin-bound Brown paced the Bobcats with 20 points and 15 rebounds, senior guard Andrew Herringshaw pitched in with 11 points, and sophomore point guard LaMonta’ Stone added seven points for BG.
“The second quarter was real shaky but we just got it back together at halftime, and I was ready to help my team win this game,” Brown said. “They were trying to slow down the ball, so we figured we had to throw in the press, and I think it really worked.
“I was standing around too much in the first half. You’ve got to keep moving when they’re playing zones and hit those dead [open] spots.”
Bowling Green showed no first-game jitters in the opening quarter, hitting 6 of 12 shots from the field while clamping down on Findlay defensively en route to a 16-5 lead after eight minutes.
But the Trojans (1-1), playing without injured starters Michael Clark and Adam Twining, tightened up their own defense, slowed the game’s tempo, and successfully took the Bobcats out of their early rhythm.
Findlay's Grant Niswander tries to block shot of Bowling Green's LaMonta' Stone.
The result was an eight-minute stretch when BG scored zero points, a drought broken 1 minute, 12 seconds before halftime when Stone’s 10-footer from the lane became the Bobcats’ only points in a 7-2 period edge for Findlay.
BG committed nine of its 17 total turnovers during the second quarter.
“We got the job done,” BG coach Von Graffin said. “[Coach] Jim Rucki has done a great job at Findlay in the last 10 years. He controls things a lot like Dave Boyce at Perrysburg.
“His kids are going to run what they need to run. When they get Twining and Clark back, that’s a darn nice basketball team.”
Stone ignited things for BG with a 3-pointer 50 seconds into the third quarter, and Brown dominated in the paint, scoring nine of his points in a span of 3:10 later in that period to help the Bobcats stretch their lead to 30-20 entering the fourth quarter.
“We threw some guys in who normally don’t have that much responsibility of having the ball in their hands that much,” Findlay coach Jim Rucki said of his shortened roster. “We started out shaky, but things got better. If can learn from that [experience], that’ll help us in the long run.”
Bowling Green's Mitchell Gardner sets to shoot during game against Findlay.
The Bobcats got three 3-pointers in the final period, including one from Brown, and Findlay got no closer than 10 in the closing eight minutes. BG’s lead grew to 41-25 when Herringshaw hit the third of his three 3-pointers with 3:53 remaining.
“Their game plan tonight obviously was to slow us way down, and we were trying to speed them way up,” Graffin said. “We were up 16-5 after the first quarter, then we get a deuce in the second quarter. They did slow us down.
“We didn’t want to chase them. We took that return pass [out high] away from them. Our bigs came out there, and we got some help inside. I thought our 1-3-1 three-quarter-court press got some things for us when we needed it.”
Findlay, which was led by 17 points from 6-3 forward Austin Gutting, was 11 for 33 from the field, 9 of 11 at the line, and commited 19 turnovers. “Defensively, we really battled them,” Graffin said. “We said, ‘no easy points,’ and we didn’t give up many.”
Bowling Green was 17-of-39 from the field, 3-for-3 at the line, outrebounded the Trojans 28-20, and committed 17 turnovers.
Brown is relieved to have his college recruiting choice completed, having signed with Wisconsin last month.
“It was very stressful, but a good process at the same time,” Brown said. “Now that it’s over with, I’m ready to keep working to help us go as far as we can go this season.
“I think we’ve got a lot of potential. We just need to keep working in practice to get better every day.”
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com, 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.