BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The Bowling Green State Falcons held Ball State to only seven made field goals and forced the Cardinals to commit 10 turnovers in the second half alone as the Falcons outscored the Cardinals 35-19 over the final 20 minutes of play to pick up a 58-46 come-from-behind win in MAC play Saturday in the Stroh Center.
The Falcons erased a four-point halftime deficit with a 19-6 run over the first nine minutes of the second half to fly out to a double digit lead en route to victory.
BGSU shot just 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) in the first half, but it bounced back to go 11-of-26 (42.3 percent) overall from the floor in the second half. Ball State was 10-of-28 (35.7 percent) in the opening period and just 7-of-24 (29.2 percent) over the final 20 minutes of play in the game.
The win pushes Bowling Green to 11-4 overall, 7-1 at home and 3-1 in MAC play. Ball State drops to 7-8 overall and 2-2 in league play.
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"I thought we set the tone the first possession defensively (in the second half). We had three guys on the floor and to me they just had a little more edge to them. I was glad they responded to the four-point deficit the way they did and then we got on one of those runs."
Sophomore guard Zack Denny led the Falcons with a game-high 17 points and a career-high 10 rebounds as he posted his first career double-double. Senior Richaun Holmes and junior Spencer Parker each contributed 11 points apiece. Holmes added seven rebounds and three blocks, giving him 201 blocks for his career at BGSU.
Ball State was led by 2014 MAC Freshman of the Year in Zavier Turner and his 14 points, two assists and two steals, while Franko House had seven points and two rebounds before fouling out of the game in the second half.
The game started out as a back-and-fourth affair, as the two teams' traded the lead three times before a layup from the left block from Delvin Dickerson and a driving layup along the right baseline by Denny put the Falcons in front by three at 13-10 with 9:55 to go in the opening half.
Denny's layup, however, would be the last made field goal the Falcons would score for the next 9:20 as the home team went ice cold from the floor.
However, defense and the foul line, where BGSU was 8-of-8, kept the Falcons in the contest. Four straight foul shots from David Joseph and Parker over a two-minute stretch allowed the home team to take a 17-15 lead at the 6:11 mark of the first half.
After a three-pointer from Rocco Belcaster and a layup down low from House pushed the Cardinals out to a three-point lead at 20-17, the Falcons got to the charity stripe once more with two foul shots from Parker to pull within one of Ball State at 20-19.
Ball State and BGSU would trade another layup for another two free throws, this time by Denny, to keep the visitors lead at one until the Cardinals' Turner hit back-to-back foul shots to again put the team in red up by three at 24-21 with 1:07 to go before the halftime break.
A hard-fought layup by Parker with 35 seconds to go on the game clock ended the Falcons' field goal drought and again put the home team down just one, until a three-pointer from the left wing by Sean Sellers as time expired gave Ball State its largest lead of the game at 27-23 heading into intermission.
Out of the halftime break, the Falcons forced BSU into two early turnovers and got a blocked shot from Holmes on the defensive end while scoring seven unanswered points from the combination of Holmes and Denny offensively to take a 30-27 lead on an old-fashion three-point play from the 6-8 forward.
Ball State answered with a 6-3 surge to tie the score up at 33-33 on a layup down low from Matt Kamieniecki at the 14:25 mark, only to see the Falcons get an offensive stick back basket from Holmes to jump start a 10-0 run by Bowling Green.
BGSU did not look back, as a three-pointer from Ball State cut the Falcons' lead to seven at 43-36. It was the closest the Cardinals could get for the remainder of the game as the home team used another 8-0 offensive rush to push its lead back out to double digits at 51-36 on a free throw from Dickerson.
The Falcons would hold Ball State to just 10 points over the final nine minutes of the contest and knocked down 5-of-10 free throws, along with a midrange jump shot from Austin, to hold on for the 58-46 home conference win.
Bowling Green outscored the Cardinals 20-18 in points in the paint and 12-7 in second chance points, as the Orange and Brown out-rebounded Ball State 39-35 for the game. The Falcons also held a 15-6 advantage in points off turnovers, 7-4 in fast break points and 12-11 in bench points.
BGSU (11-4, 3-1 MAC) will return to the Stroh Center to host the Eagles of Eastern Michigan on Wednesday night, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. Ball State hosts Ohio (7 p.m. ET).