By EVAN MEYER
KENT, OHIO – The 12th seeded Bowling Green Falcons stunned the fifth seeded Kent State Golden Flashes 60-59 in a first round game of the 2016 Mid-American Conference Tournament presented by VisitMyrtleBeach.com Monday night at the MAC Center.
With the victory, Bowling Green (15-17) ended a three-game losing streak and became just the third team in MAC Men’s basketball tournament history to advance as a 12 seed (Central Michigan in 2002 and Northern Illinois in 2012 were the others).
“I am proud of our guys.” BGSU head coach Michael Huger said. “
Senior Spencer Parker led the Falcons with . . .
Kent State (19-13) bowed out after a season with considerable promise, losing four of its last five games.
“It was a tough night not to play very well.” KSU head man Rob Senderoff said. “Very disappointing tonight. A tough way to end the season.”
Junior Kellon Thomas and Senior Chris Ortiz led the Flashes with 18 points each. Thomas added five assists and three steals, while Ortiz added 12 rebounds and a pair of helpers.
KSU used a 12-2 run at the start of the game to open a 12-5 lead at the 14:47 mark on a hook shot in the lane by Ortiz. It held the advantage until the 4:05 mark when Parker scored on a driving layup to tie the game 27-27.
The Flashes ended the first half on a 12-5 spurt to gain a seven point lead at halftime, 39-32
At the start of the second half,
The momentum of the game, however, shifted in favor of the Falcons early in the second period. Bowling Green scored the first 11 points of the period to take a 43-39 advantage at the 16:43 mark on a pull-up jumper by Lillard, who contributed seven of those points in the run.
BGSU would hold the lead until the Flashes tied things 54-54 at the 9:10 mark on a three-pointer from the left arc by Ortiz. For the next six minutes, both teams would have the lead, and there were two ties.
Lilliard then scored four of the Falcons next five points to push them to victory. A free throw by Demajeo Wiggins at the 2:19 mark gave BGSU the lead for good, 65-63.
In the final moments, Parker and junior Wes Alcegaire made two free throws each to seal KSU’s fate. Even though Ortiz made a three-pointer from beyond half court at the buzzer, it was still one point short.
One big key to the game was Falcons defense on Jimmy Hall. Huger indicated that after Hall “had his way” with BG the first two games, the game plan would be to do what was necessary to keep him from dominating.
The first team All-MAC selection, who had 26 and 22 points respectively in the Flashes two regular season wins over BGSU, was held to just six points -- his lowest total of the season -- shooting just 2-of-10 from the field with just four rebounds and four turnovers.
The Falcons now advance to Quicken Loans Arena for the quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon against fourth-seeded Central Michigan, who handled them twice during the regular season.