YPSILANTI, Mich. — The Bowling Green State University men’s basketball program began play within the Mid-American Conference with a 91-65 win over Eastern Michigan Tuesday in Ypsilanti, Mich.
The Falcons paired stingy defense with transition offense to create a double-digit lead at halftime and rolled the momentum into a 1-0 start in the MAC.
With the win, the Falcons have now scored 90 points or more in three consecutive games for the first time since the 1989-90 season.
BGSU has now won seven straight against Eastern Michigan, tying the program record for consecutive wins against the Eagles, and have won five straight in Ypsilanti.
Individually, the Falcons were paced by Leon Ayers III with 24 points, marking his third consecutive 20-point game. He also contributed two assists.
Chandler Turner added his second double-double of the season (14 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, two assists) while Rashaun Agee recorded a career-high five blocks and four rebounds in addition to 14 points.
Samari Curtis and Kaden Metheny each scored double digits points with 11 each while adding seven and six assists, respectively, to their stat lines. Curtis had five rebounds and Metheny had four caroms.
“It was the best game we played this year,” BGSU coach Michael Huger said.
“We had a really nice conversation leading up to today and the biggest thing we talked about was turning defense into offense and having pride in our defense, knowing it’s the best feeling when you can keep a team from scoring and then you’re able to score on the other end. There’s no better feeling than that.
“The bench was so involved in the game, cheering on their teammates. This is the best we’ve been all year. It seems like we’re putting it together. I’m just happy for the guys, so proud of the guys and what they did and how hard they played,” added Huger.
The Falcons have won three straight and even their overall record at 7-7, while Eastern falls to 3-11.
The Falcons opened by scoring the first six points, including a triple by Metheny on Bowling Green’s first possession. BGSU maintained the lead going into the first media break with an 8-7 score.
BGSU continued to turn defense into offense. Ayers snagged a steal that turned into a dunk on the offensive end to extend the score to 14-9 BGSU. Agee followed with a block later in the half that turned into an and-one layup to make it a 21-16 BGSU lead.
Agee continued to tally the hustle points with an offensive rebound and one-handed putback dunk to push the BGSU lead to 29-24.
The next possession saw Turner grab a missed free throw, finding Ayers down court for a layup under the basket.
BGSU followed up with Curtis threading the needle to Metheny for a transition three and then another Ayers outlet dunk the next time down to give BGSU a 36-27 lead going into the final media timeout of the first half.
The Falcons were able to maintain the advantage through the end of the first half, going into the halftime break up 45-34.
Early in the second half, Eastern Michigan put together a 7-0 run to cut the BGSU lead to single digits at 50-42, but the Falcons quickly responded.
The Falcons were able to get out in transition with Curtis going coast-to-coast for a layup to jump start an 8-0 BGSU run that increased the Bowling Green lead to 63-45 and forced a timeout from the EMU bench.
Bowling Green worked to sustain the lead, taking an 82-61 lead into the final media timeout of the game. A late 7-0 run for the Falcons sealed the victory.
For the third consecutive game, the Falcons made more than half of their shots, ending with a shooting percentage of 52.9%, including a mark of 43.5% from behind the three-point line.
As a team, BGSU logged 18 assists, continuing a streak of nine games for Bowling Green with double-digit assists.
Sam Towns hauled in seven rebounds for the Falcons, bringing his season total to 73. That mark sets a new career-high for rebounds in a single season for Towns.
Entering the game fourth in the nation for free throw percentage, Curtis went a perfect 4-of-4 at the free throw line for the Falcons.
The Falcons will return home on Saturday to host the Ohio Bobcats for the first home conference game of the season for Bowling Green. The game between the Falcons and Bobcats is set for a 5 p.m. tip inside the Stroh Center and will be Faith & Family Night.