The Bowling Green State University men's basketball team had four players score in double figures on Wednesday night, yet saw the difference of a tight game play out at the free throw line where the Falcons were just 16-of-28 (57.1 percent) compared to Eastern Michigan's 21-of-30 (70 percent) in a 56-51 home loss in the two teams' Mid-American Conference opener at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio.
The Falcons fall to 6-8 overall and 0-1 in MAC play with the loss, while EMU improves to 9-5 overall and starts conference play at 1-0 with the win.
Junior Richaun Holmes led the Falcons offensively with a game-high 17 points, 12 of which came in the first half, while guard Jehvon Clarke added 11 points in 38 minutes of play. Fellow starters Spencer Parker and Anthony Henderson each chipped in with 10 points apiece, while senior Cameron Black hauled in a game-high nine rebounds in the loss.
For the Eagles, guard Mike Talley and forward Karrington Ward led the way with 14 and 13 points each, respectively, as eight different players scored for Eastern Michigan in the win.
The contest saw seven ties and seven lead changes during the forty minutes of action.
Both teams relied on their defenses throughout the contest, as BGSU shot just 30.8 percent (16-of-52) overall for the game and was only 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) from behind the three-point line. Eastern Michigan fared only one bucket better, as the Eagles shot 34.7 percent (17-of-49) overall and were only 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) from downtown.
However, the Eagles held a five point advantage at the free throw line over the Falcons, as EMU was 21-of-30 (70 percent) compared to BGSU's 16-of-28 (57.1 percent).
The tone of the game was set from the very start, as the two teams' struggled to put points on the board, combining for only 10 points over the first five minutes of the contest.
Down two at 6-4 on a Ward three-pointer at the 15:39 mark, the Falcons tied the score up two minutes later at 8-8 on a rebound and put back from Black, only to see the Eagles respond with a 7-3 run to remain out in front at 15-11 on a jumper from Da'Shonte Riley with 8:24 on the game clock.
The Falcons kept the first half score close, as a 9-4 run, capped off by a layup from Henderson gave the home team the lead at 20-19 with just under five minutes to go before the break.
After pushing its lead to three at 22-19 on back-to-back free throws from Holmes, who accounted for 12 of BGSU's 23 first half points, the Eagles ended the half out on a 4-1 run to take a 24-23 at the halftime break.
Fouls became an issue early in the second half for both teams, as the two teams combined for 18 whistles over the first eight minutes of the second period, which included three technical fouls.
Bowling Green got an early free throw from Holmes to tie the score up once more, this time at 24-24, as the two teams traded baskets until a jumper from EMU's Glenn Bryant kick started a 9-0 run by the visitors who soared out to a 35-27 lead with 16:15 to go in the contest.
BGSU refused to quit and answered back with a 9-1 surge of its own to tie the score up for the seventh time in the game at 36-36 on a three-pointer from Henderson at the 11:53 mark of the second half.
The game of runs continued, as EMU then ran off seven straight points to pull back out in front by seven at 43-36, before a jumper in the lane from BGSU's Parker ended the run and put the Falcons down five at 43-38 with just under eight minutes to go in regulation.
That would be as close as the Falcons would get, as BGSU missed four of its next six shots and coughed up the ball three times, which allowed the visiting EMU Eagles to extend its lead out to nine at 48-39 with less than four minutes to go in the game.
With time running out, BGSU got two quick layups from Parker and Clarke to cut the EMU lead back down to five at 48-43, yet saw the next six points go in favor of Eastern Michigan who held on down the stretch with free throws from Darell Combs and Olalekan Ajayi to defeat the Falcons 56-51.
EMU outscored the Falcons 28-24 in points in the paint and 12-6 in fast break points, while Bowling Green held a huge 14-5 advantage over the Eagles in second chance points for the contest.
BGSU (6-8, 0-1 MAC) will continue its current home stand on Sunday, Jan. 12, as the Falcons will host Northern Illinois at 4:30 p.m. as part of a doubleheader with the women's basketball team.
Courtesy: BGSU Athletics