By all accounts, Bowling Green men’s basketball got outplayed by Southern Indiana as the Screaming Eagles ran away with a 69-57 victory over the Falcons Saturday at the Stroh Center.
“I wouldn’t say they were tough to handle from matchups,” BG 6-foot-7 forward Sam Towns said. “I think they played harder than us with their effort and continuously going after everything.
“I think they just outplayed us. It wasn’t any player, or the coaching, or anything we practiced, I think they played harder than us and they wanted it more.”
BG coach Michael Huger added, “Exactly that — they wanted it more, they played harder, they had more energy, they played with more effort, and they did all the things that we should have been doing.
“It’s frustrating because we’re capable. We’ve shown that, and we’re not consistent in doing it. It’s 100% right, they wanted it more than us and they took it.”
Southern Indiana is in its first year playing NCAA Division I basketball and was picked to finish seventh in its first season competing in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Huger said the effort he saw Saturday was night and day form the effort he saw against Notre Dame, where the Falcons lost 82-66, but the game was tied entering the final five minutes.
“We’ve got to play harder. If we play harder, that gives us the chance to win the game. It’s right there about playing with energy and effort,” Huger said.
“We got to Notre Dame, and we compete for the first 35 minutes and just didn’t hit shots at the end and lose the game,” Huger continued. “But the way we competed against these guys it was the name on the jersey is what they saw.
“Today, they saw the name on the jersey once again and it’s just that now it is in the reverse. We see ‘Southern Indiana’ and it’s like, ‘Who is this?’
“As much as you try to tell them that they can play, they know the game, they know how to play the game, and we must be prepared.
“It’s so frustrating,” Huger added. “We have to be consistent in bringing the energy no matter who we play.”
The Screaming Eagles, who shot 41% from the field (26-for-63), including hitting on nine three-point goals, got 44 points from two players who came off the bench.
Jelani Simmons, a 6-foot-5 senior guard from Columbus who transferred from Youngstown State, was 9-for-16 from the field, including 4-for-9 from downtown, in scoring a game-high 23 points.
Gary Solomon, a 6-6 guard from Detroit who transferred from Henry Ford College, had 21 points, two assists and two steals despite fouling out. He was 8-for-14 from the field.
“Those guys are good players,” Towns said. “They were two of the top players on the scout. I don’t know why they didn’t start this game, but they did come off the bench
“They can shoot the ball. They started hot, and you must put that fire out early if you want to win games.”
Meanwhile, BG senior forward Chandler Turner led the Falcons with 12 points, seven rebounds, and two assists, Towns had 10 points and five rebounds and senior guard Leon Ayers III had 10 points, four assists, and two steals.
However, the Falcons were a dismal 21-for-60 (35%) from the field, including 7-for-24 from (29%) from beyond the three-point arc. Towns said the Screaming Eagles’ defense caused all kinds of issues.
“They had a gameplan, they knew what we were running, and they took us out of a lot of our stuff,” Towns said. “They forced us to take a lot of contested shots.
“It got toward the end we tried to create a little more touch shots to try to cut the lead, and I think that forced us to take some bad shots that we need to work on. It is all stuff that needs to be cleaned up.”
The Screaming Eagles improve to 3-3. After opening with two wins, it was BG’s fourth straight loss.
“We can only go up from here,” Towns said. “A win can only help us. We’ve got five more home games out of the next seven, so we come out and practice how we need to be playing and we should be able to take care of business.
“We’ll get it back on the right track. The home crowd is everything. People being on break, that was a little tough today.”
Huger added, “We must want to change and not be pouting and pointing that, ‘It’s his fault and his fault.’
“It’s the offense, it’s the defense, and now we got to stick together and show what we’re made of and fight through adversity, which we have right now. We just can’t give up on each other in what we are doing.”
For the Falcons, sophomore guard Kaden Metheny had nine points and five assists, freshman guard Willie Lightfoot scored seven points, and senior guard Samari Curtis had four points and three assists.
Senior guard Brenton Mills had three points on a shot from behind the arc, senior forward Gabe O’Neal added two points, and 6-8 junior forward Rashaun Agee did not score, but had seven rebounds.