Falcons play catch-up, lose to Huskies, 86-78


It’s been a reoccurring theme for Bowling Green State University men’s basketball — fall behind by double digits in the first half and play catch up in the second half.

The theme repeated itself during the Falcons’ 86-78 Mid-American Conference loss to Northern Illinois University at the Stroh Center during Saturday’s annual “Eracism Game” celebration, honoring a secretly played game between an all-white Duke University team and North Carolina College for Negroes in 1944.

BGSU fell behind by 14, 26-12, after Northern Illinois sophomore guard David Colt drove to the basket for two points nine minutes and 30 seconds into the first half.

The Falcons made several runs, including a 10-0 run in the second half, cutting the lead to one possession on multiple occasions, but the Huskies led the entire game.

“We just have to stop getting to that point where we are down so much that we have to fight back,” said BGSU senior guard Samari Curtis.

“We fight back, and then we get gassed or something — I don’t know. We just have to stop getting to that point. We are a better team than that.”

BGSU coach Michael Huger added, “It’s frustrating more than anything. We show that we are capable of doing it. Now we have to do it from start to finish instead of waiting.

“We just continually wait. We don’t compete from the start. We wait until we’re down and now we want to compete. That’s the frustrating part for me as a coach is trying to figure out how we can compete from the beginning,” Huger continued.

“I mean, it’s mind-boggling to me right now. I’m going to continue to work and find a way.”

The Falcons’ fight to get back into the game after the Huskies repeatedly put together a run of their own was a bright spot. Each team traded runs with the lead bouncing back and forth between double digits and one possession.

“It shows we are resilient, and we play together as a team, but we have to consistently do it all the time,” Curtis said.

“We can’t do it when we are down 15 or 20 and then try to fight back. We must do it from the jump.”

The Huskies got five players into double figures as they improved to 10-13 overall and 5-5 in the MAC. The Falcons fell to 10-13 and 4-6.

Colt had 21 points and four assists, sophomore guard Zarique Nutter had 18 points and four rebounds, and senior guard Darweshi Hunter scored 13 for Northern Illinois.

Six-foot-9, 225-pound junior forward Harvin Ibarguen was a beast in the paint, making 5-of-6 field goals, including several dunks, and scoring 10 points with seven rebounds.

Another presence making an impact in the paint was 6-9, 235-pound sophomore forward Oluwasegun Dorosinmi, who had 10 points and four rebounds.

Durosinmi fouled out after getting whistled for a technical foul with 9:29 remaining, and Nutter got his fifth personal with 1:28 on the clock, but the Falcons were unable to take advantage.

On top of that, a usually good-shooting BGSU team only made 14-of-24 free throws (58%), providing more than enough misses to make up for the losing margin.

“We just have to lock in during the game,” Curtis said. “We shoot free throws every day in practice so it’s not like we are not practicing them. We must encourage each other to make them and get up there and knock them down.”

Huger added, “The inconstancies are what drives me crazy. We have to be consistent from the free throw line, consistent rebounding — when you are so inconstant you don’t know what you are getting from night to night.

“Now, it’s starting to creep into the free throws. Free throws are mental more than anything. Free throws are not the physical aspect, it’s mental,” Huger continued.

“So once your mind starts telling your body that you stink, of course, you are going to stink on free throws. Anything that you do.

“So, we just have to get back to being positive and understanding that we have to take our time and be able to knock down our free throws and the same with shots and everything else.”

The Falcons were also cold from the arc, making 4-of-17 (24%) three-point shots. For example, usually hot-shooting sophomore guard Kaden Metheny was 0-for-6.

Senior forward Chandler Turner led the Falcons with 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals, and senior guard Leon Ayers III had 20 points, four rebounds and two assists.

Curtis had nine points, four rebounds, and five assists, Metheny had eight points, five assists and two steals, and junior forward Rashaun Agee and senior forward Gabe O’Neal scored seven points each.

Senior guard Brenton Mills had two points and six rebounds, and junior forward Sam Towns and locally grown Bowling Green High School product Isaac Elsasser, a senior guard, scored two points apiece.

There were bright spots for the Falcons besides hanging close most of the game — they had just eight turnovers to the Huskies’ 18, outscored the Huskies, 12-2, in fast breaks, and BGSU had 12 offensive rebounds to the Huskies’ six.

Plus, BGSU shot 49% from the field (30-for-61), but the Huskies were even better at 53% (32-for-60). NIU was 10-for-27 (37%) from downtown and 12-for-17 from the charity stripe.

One of the reasons shooting percentages were high is there were 82 combined points scored in the paint with the Falcons owning a 42-40 edge, and the Falcons also had a 35-34 edge off the glass.

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