BOWLING GREEN — A disappointing home season for the Bowling Green State University men’s basketball team came to a close with a 72-61 loss to Ohio at the Stroh Center Tuesday.
The Falcons’ eighth home loss this season cemented the team’s first-ever losing season at their three-year-old home, and the first losing home record since 2005-06.
Surprisingly, the culprit in BG’s fourth loss in the last five games was a defense that never did put the clamps on the visiting Bobcats.
“In order to play good defense, you have to have good energy,” Falcons coach Louis Orr said. “Our team defense, especially in the half-court, we just weren’t sharp. We weren’t on point.
“Our energy level wasn’t good enough to have good offense and good defense [in the first half]; it was better in the second half.”
Ohio shot 57.8 percent for the game, the second-best mark against the Falcons this season, including a 55.6 percent mark on 3-pointers. Both numbers were easily the best for a Mid-American Conference team against BG this season.
“Let me put it this way: Ohio seemed to be the higher energy team,” Orr said. “We just didn’t have the energy they had in the first half.
“Give them credit because they made shots. … But we couldn’t get enough stops to dig ourselves out of the hole.”
Richaun Holmes scored 20 points to lead Bowling Green (12-18, 6-11), which saw its hopes of a first-round home MAC tournament game officially dashed with the loss.
Anthony Henderson had 12 points and Spencer Parker 11.
Nick Kellogg finished with 25 points for Ohio (20-10, 10-7), while Javarez Willis scored 16 and Antonio Campbell 11.
The game got away from the Falcons midway through the first half. After a jumper from the right elbow by Josh Gomez gave BG a 15-14 lead with 10:04 to play in that period, Ohio scored the next nine points and never trailed again.
The Bobcats made three 3-pointers in the final three minutes and led 33-21 at the half.
“They shot the lights out,” senior Cameron Black said of the Bobcats. “Our ball pressure wasn’t very good, so they were blowing by us.
“And we weren’t closing out hard on the kick-outs.”
In the second half Bowling Green was much better offensively, scoring 40 points.
Ohio shot 68.4 percent from the field in the second half, and the Falcons never came closer than seven points.
“This was a game where we needed to score points because we couldn’t count on our defense,” Orr said. “If you don’t guard and you let a team shoot 57-58 percent, it’s tough [to win] because you’re just playing tag.”
It was a bittersweet ending to the home careers of senior Black and Craig Sealey, who were honored before the game.
“It’s been a really fun time here at BG,” said Black, who had six points and three rebounds. “I love my coaches and my teammates, and I’ll miss playing with them and being around them every day.
“I really appreciated the love from the crowd and from my teammates.”