BOWLING GREEN — No basketball team plays must-win games in January, but Bowling Green State University certainly wanted to win more than usual on Wednesday.
Not only did the Falcons get that win, they overcame some recent shooting woes to claim a 67-57 win over Central Michigan at the Stroh Center.
The win helped snap a four-game losing streak, including a three-game losing skid at home. The victory showed some life from an offense that produced its highest point total since winning at Morehead State one month earlier.
“This is not new,” BG coach Louis Orr said. “But consistency, in any sport, is what separates the great from the good, the good from the average, and the average from below average. …
“We’re capable of [playing this well]. It’s just a matter of doing it. To me, if you do this once, you can do it all the time.”
Richaun Holmes finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season to lead Bowling Green. Spencer Parker also had 20 points for the Falcons (7-9, 1-2 MAC) while Start High School grad Anthony Henderson added 13.
Chris Fowler had 19 points and Blake Hibbitts 14 for Central Michigan (7-8, 0-3).
The key for the Falcons was a 48.9 percent shooting day, the team’s best effort since matching that number at Morehead State. BG also made 16-of-22 free throws (72.7 percent).
“I never thought we were a bad-shooting team,” Orr said. “We had some games where we didn’t make shots, but we had other games where we did.
“We did a better job of sharing the ball. We did a better job of converting in transition. We did a better job at the free-throw line.”
The tone was set by Henderson, who made a 3-pointer on Bowling Green’s first possession. That shot seemed to lift a weight off all the Falcons’ shoulders.
“We all have been working on our shooting,” Holmes said. “I think when that first shot by [Henderson] went in, we all felt the hard work was about to pay off.
“When he made his next one, that loosened them up. You could see they were more worried about getting to the perimeter shooters. … And that made it that much easier to get the ball inside, and gave us more room to work around the basket.”
Still the Falcons found themselves down 26-19 with 5:59 left in the first half. At that point BG switched from man-to-man to a zone, and that discombobulated the Chippewas.
CMU had six turnovers in the final minutes, and BG used a 14-2 finish to lead 33-28 at the break.
“I thought Cam Black was covering ground [in corners] and we were able to trap,” Orr said. “He was active; our guards, especially Anthony, were active; and we were able to get our hands on a lot of balls.”
The Falcons switched back to man-to-man to start the second half and the Chippewas made just 2-of-10 shots to start.
That allowed BG to build a 44-30 lead with 14:39 left, only to see Central Michigan battle back with a full-court press and 3-point shooting.
A late 8-1 run brought CMU to within 61-53 with 1:35 left. But Holmes blocked a shot and was able to start a fast break that Parker finished with a layup.
“Actually, I got lost on defense,” Holmes said. “We were supposed to be switching, and I stayed with my guy — and left a wide-open guy.
“I just sprinted as fast as I could, and I was able to get the block, then get the ball to Spencer. He was able to convert, and that sealed it for us.”
NOTES: The 20 points by both Holmes and Parker marked the first time BG had two players reach 20 in a game since A’uston Calhoun and Jordon Crawford each had 21 at Miami exactly one year ago. … Craig Sealey missed his eighth straight game because of continued knee problems.
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