Bowling Green 76, Northern Illinois 69
Basketball Falls 76-69 At Bowling Green
OH - Just four games into the Mid-American Conference season,
it is becoming apparent that road wins will be at a premium. More
so than in recent history, teams are successfully defending their
home court, as just Western Michigan, Toledo, Kent State and Miami
have locked up wins away from their friendly confines. Northern
Illinois' third shot at a road win came up short on Saturday, as
the Huskies fell 76-69 to Western Division rival Bowling Green,
Saturday afternoon in Bowling Green, OH.
With the loss,
NIU fell to 6-8 on the season, 1-3 in the MAC, while Bowling Green
improved to 6-8, 2-1 in MAC action.
It's hard to
say the outcome of a 40-minute game hinged on the result of one
call early in the second half. After all, more than 50 plays happened
before the call and close to 50 plays happened after it. But with
Northern Illinois trailing 35-33 after a lay-up by Marcus Smallwood
at the 18:22 mark of the second half, Anthony Maestranzi was called
for a foul while diving for a loose ball, stopping an eventual game-tying
dunk by P.J. Smith. That ensuing bucket would have brought the Huskies
all the way back from a 16-point deficit (30-14) which they faced
in the first half and gave the momentum to the Cardinal and Black
visitors from DeKalb, IL.
but I really liked the way Anthony (Maestranzi) hustled on the play,"
head coach Rob Judson said. "We had the momentum at that point
and we were going to get the game tied up with 18 minutes to play.
The guys fought hard after falling behind. I thought our run at
the end of the first half gave us some momentum and we carried it
over early in the second."
After that loose-ball
foul, Smith picked up his second and third fouls in a matter of
23 seconds and NIU's leading scorer from the first half (13 points)
was forced to sit the bench. During Smith's absence, the Falcons
went on an 11-2 run to build their lead back to 11 (46-35) and NIU
was never able to recover.
to the Falcons and senior center Kevin Netter for taking advantage
of their opportunities. Netter, who scored a game-high tying 19
points, poured in 16 points in the second half, including eight
consecutive following Smith's departure with foul trouble. While
Netter flourished, Smallwood kept the Huskies tight, as he fought
his way around double teams to drop in 18 second-half points and
22 for the game. Often a whirling dervish in the lane, the senior
all-MAC selection followed misses and created baskets off the dribble
to keep NIU alive. After scoring NIU's first nine points of the
second half, Smallwood had his best night of the season at the free
throw line, hitting 6-of-8 charity tosses. However with Smith on
the bench, the Falcons were able to turn their focus to Smallwood,
to keep the Huskies at bay.
continue to have stretches were we aren't making shots and that
is hurting us," Judson said. "We are getting good looks,
the shots just aren't falling. This team is improving. Before, we
would have those dry spells because of turnovers. We are starting
to limit our turnovers and now we just need to hit more shots. We
are getting there and we will get there."
started the game in impressive fashion, as Smith buried a trey from
the wing and hit a tough 15-foot jumper to give NIU a 5-0 lead.
Following an offensive rebound, Steven Wright started a 10-0 Falcon
run by hitting a three-point from the top of the key. Netter gave
BGSU a 6-5 lead on a three-point play as the 6-foot-10 senior christened
the Bowling Green free throw line, a popular place for the Falcons
on this day. The top free throw shooting team in the MAC, Bowling
Green hit all 15 free throw tosses in the first half to build up
that 30-14 lead.
30-second timeout by the Huskies, Marcus Smallwood gave NIU just
its second bucket in 8:07 as he keyed an 11-2 run with a tip in.
Smith hit a pair of free throws and Maestranzi, NIU's second leading
scorer with 14, hit a top-of-the key three to cut the lead to single
digits. A pair of Johnathan Byrd buckets sandwiched a Smallwood
lay-up to slice the lead to five. After two more BGSU free throws
by Ronald Lewis, Smith capped the first half with a foul-line jumper
to make the score 34-29 at the half.
After a pair
of road contests in Ohio, the Northern Illinois men's basketball
team returns to the Convocation Center on Jan. 14 to face Eastern
Michigan University. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Copy by Dave Reiter