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Falcons push past injury, win at home

02/26/2014, 9:12pm EST
By JOHN WAGNER BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Clarke scores 21, sinks late free throws to seal victory


BGSU's Richaun Holmes is surrounded by Kent State defenders .


BGSU's Jehvon Clarke steals against Kent State during the second half.

BOWLING GREEN — For the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team, Wednesday’s 73-66 win against Kent State was the equivalent of finding water in the middle of the desert.

“This was really a character win for our guys,” Falcons coach Louis Orr said. “I thought our guys fought through adversity.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Falcons win at home

Some of the adversity came from the team’s recent struggles, which include four losses by a combined eight points in the last five games. Earlier in the day, the team learned that Anthony Henderson would not play because of ankle troubles, and then the Falcons battled foul trouble throughout the contest.

“You know that you’re only one or two plays away [from winning],” Orr said. “It looks like it’s overwhelming if you don’t look at it objectively.

“You can say, ‘We’ve got this mountain to climb,’ but it’s really not a mountain. It’s really just a little bump because you’re only looking at one or two plays.”

Jehvon Clarke scored 21 points to lead the Falcons (12-16, 6-9 Mid-American Conference). Richaun Holmes posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Spencer Parker added 12 points.

Devareaux Manley scored 16 points to lead Kent State (15-13, 6-9), while Kris Brewer had 14 and Mark Henniger finished with 10.

It was apparent early in the contest that the Falcons were focused on getting the ball inside to Holmes and Cameron Black. Black had nine points in the first half and Holmes eight as BG lead 31-26 at the break.

“We knew that with Anthony out, everybody’s role had to increase,” Clarke said. “We needed to get perimeter shooting some way, and we needed to be more efficient inside.”

Bowling Green led by as many as 12 points midway through the second half before Kent State used a 14-5 run to cut the Falcons’ lead to 53-50 with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left.

“[At that point] we knew that whatever we needed to do, we just had to do it,” Clarke said. “Whether it was getting stops on defense, making baskets, we just had to do it. …

“Every game, our mindset is that we have to be mentally tough because we know we’re going to have to handle some adversity.”

Parker’s putback at 3:44 started a seven-point run that gave BG a 60-50 lead with 3:19 to play. And while the Golden Flashes were able to cut the deficit to three with 29.5 seconds left, BG made enough free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Clarke had a big game, adding eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals to his 21 points. He made 8 of 9 free throws.

“He was the glue,” Orr said. “He made some big shots that kept the scoreboard moving.

“I thought he kept his poise, and against the pressure he handled the ball well. And he made his free throws. He did the things a point guard needs to do.”

Holmes and Black combined for nine blocked shots (Black tied his career high with five), and they combined to help BG to a 44-31 rebounding advantage.

And several bench players made big contributions as Damarkeo Lyshe scored a career-high eight points while Craig Sealey had four points and six rebounds.

“I know Damarkeo Lyshe is a confident guy who is tough-minded,” Orr said. “And I thought Craig Sealey gave us good minutes. He rebounded, and he was assertive.”

NOTES: Orr said he hopes Henderson, the Start High School graduate who suffered an ankle injury that flared up during the second half of the loss at Miami, will be able to suit up and play in Saturday’s game at Akron. … Holmes’ double-double was his seventh this season.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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