AKRON — The official record will show the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team lost Saturday at Akron because of a last-second shot.
But there were plenty of other contributors to the Falcons’ 80-78 loss to the Zips at James A. Rhodes Arena besides the 3-pointer by Virshon Cotton with just 3.7 seconds to go.
Perhaps the biggest came seconds before Cotton’s basket, when BG forced an Akron miss with about 25 seconds left. The Falcons didn’t grab the rebound, which led to a scrambled defense — and Cotton’s game-winning basket.
“We got them to miss a shot, and if we get the rebound we can draw up a play with 20 seconds left and get the last shot,” BG coach Michael Huger said. “Instead they got the rebound, and they got the last shot.
“And they hit a big 3.”
Justin Turner had 30 points to lead the Falcons (11-6, 2-2 MAC). Springfield High School graduate Demajeo Wiggins added 18 points and 12 rebounds for his fifth double-double this season and third in as many games, while Dylan Frye added 14 points.
Cotton led Akron (8-8, 1-3) with 23 points, Jimond Ivey had 19, and Malcolm Duvivier 13. Jaden Sayles had 14 until leaving the game after taking a terrible fall on a missed dunk midway through the second half.
The Zips took early command of the contest thanks to an 8-0 run that gave them a 13-6 lead with 14 minutes, 32 seconds to play. Later in the first half, the Falcons responded with an eight-point run of their own to tie the game at 22 with 6:10 left.
But BG never was able to take the lead, and a basket at the buzzer by Daeqwon Plowden still left the Falcons trailing 36-32 at halftime.
“Our defense wasn’t sharp today,” Huger admitted. “We’re starting to understand that defense is the key, not offense. …
“But we have to come ready to compete, and we didn’t do that. You can’t take a night off, and I thought we took the night off until the final eight minutes.”
In the second half, Akron started making 3s, hitting 7-of-12 to start the half to build a 70-56 advantage with 6:58 on the clock.
“They were just jacking them up. I thought a lot of them were not good shots,” Huger said. “But they made them. They made a lot of tough 3s.”
But the Falcons started clawing back. However, it was arduous work as it seemed Bowling Green never could string together baskets with defensive stops.
“It was frustrating because when one thing was clicking, something else wasn’t,” Turner said. “But you can’t control your offense every night. That’s why you have to make sure your defense is right every time.
“We can’t have it where we have lapses where we don’t get the stop or the defensive rebound.”
The Falcons put together a 12-0 run that featured 10 points by Turner to cut it to 70-68 with 3:52 left.
“We had to take advantage of them going small, and we did; we got 43 free throws out of it,” Huger said. “But we only made 29 of those free throws. …
“And we only outrebounded them by one. There were a lot of rebounds for us to get, and we didn’t get them.”
The Falcons did make eight consecutive free throws in the game’s final two minutes, but one rebound that got away came on a missed 3 by Ivey with 25 seconds left and the score tied at 77. The Zips’ Lucas Smith got the rebound, and in the ensuing scramble Cotton made a 3 from the left wing.
Turner was fouled with 3.2 seconds left; he made the first free throw and purposely missed the second, but although Frye grabbed the loose ball he was unable to make a difficult off-balance shot at the buzzer.
“We fought our way back, but we came away empty-handed,” Turner said. “We have to come out with that energy right away — we have to be ready to play.”
NOTES: Senior Matt Fox did not play for the Falcons. The Anthony Wayne graduate was not in uniform and was wearing a walk “boot” on his left foot. … Sayles missed a dunk, landed awkwardly on floor, and remained prone for about 10 minutes before walking off the floor gingerly. He suffered a wrist injury and also might be in concussion protocol.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.